Thanks to everyone who came along to the initial meeting of the Artists at Work project yesterday at the Willow – and here’s what we talked about for those of you who couldn’t make it:

  • The general object of the project is to establish links between individual Inside Out artists at local Oswestry businesses, creating a way for artists to explore the unique heritage of the market town, and to demonstrate how art can complement a working business by exploring various aspects of it.
  • The project should also emphasise how art can promote something like a business in a completely different way from simple advertising.
  • We’re going to work towards an exhibition of Artists at Work artworks in Oswestry in spring/summer 2012
  • We’re also going to look at creating a trail around Oswestry – similar to the one we’ve done for the Way – with artworks exhibited in the businesses we’ve linked with.
  • Shropshire Council’s Community Working team are very interested in our project, and we’re going to be exploring some other exhibition/presentation ideas such as:
    • An exhibition of the Artists at Work project at Shire Hall in Shrewsbury, as part of a programme of promoting Oswestry within the county
    • A small touring exhibition about the project to villages and communities in the area, again, as part of a programme of promoting Oswestry within the county
    • Taking part in regional and national initiatives by Shropshire Council to promote its market towns
  • Oswestry Footfall – the group who help organise community art exhibitions in empty shop-windows in Oswestry – are also interested in the project. Not quite sure how they would be involved, but they might be able to organise schools, etc. to do site-specific art projects about the history of various premises, etc.
We also discussed some of the practical issues involved in taking part in this project, and came up with some ideas to help those who would like to take part but are unsure how to start:
  • We’ll produce a general “cover letter” describing the project that artists can send or email to potential businesses/partners to introduce themselves and their involvement in the project.
  • Oswestry Chamber of Commerce already know about the project, and we’ll make arrangements to make a presentation or have a meeting with the Chamber to describe the project and find out whether they know of any businesses who might be interested in partnering up with an artist.
  • Frank Triggs will contact the West Midlands and Mid-Wales Manufacturing groups to see if they might be interested in this project. If there are artists interested in exploring more formal artist-in-residence arrangements, we can help point towards existing national and regional schemes that can provide funding, advice, support, etc.
  • We’ll continue to schedule regular Inside Out get-togethers for all artists involved/interested in the project to talk through problems, experiences, etc., etc. Eventually, as various work gets underway, it would be good to invite some of the business people involved to come along as well and tell us how they think the project is going.
  • We’ll also post a rolling list on this blog of which artists are linking up with which businesses and how they’re getting on – hopefully this will encourage and inspire people who are a bit tentative about getting started.
Finally, it was generally agreed that we didn’t want this project to end quickly – people were interested in it being a long-term or rolling project, so any exhibition or trail that we do in spring/summer 2011 won’t be the end of this project, but simply something to initially work towards.
And as a kind of general point, several people confessed they had problems talking about themselves and their art, particularly when it came to promoting or “selling” themselves and what they did. We discussed the possibility of some kind of workshop or round-table session to talk about “how to talk about your art”. Who else would be interested in this? Maybe we can organise something for later in the summer.
Okay, so that’s about it. We’ll keep everyone posted about what’s going on and how the project is progressing – this blog’s the best way to keep up to date, so make sure you check back here often!