A sunny day can make you feel like anything is possible. Perhaps it was such a day when my nonchalant ‘Yes dear’ became a more attentive response to my husband’s idea of turning our basement into an art-space.
We live in South Leeds, in a fair sized, ramshackle, through terrace. At the bottom of our house is a fair size basement. Rounding up our accurate measurements by a few centimetres it is 3.5 metres by 9 meters. At the moment if has a few spiders, a little damp, art plinths and general basement debris. The vision is to provide this space with its own door, smooth walls, a sink and practical things like a toilet and cloakroom. Alongside these physical attributes will be two curators, a residency and exhibition programme and various events and community happenings. The idea is to have 4 residencies a year, selected by Bruce Davies and the first guest curator, artist and writer Derek Horton. These curators would select artists from an open submission process whereby the only stipulated criteria are that those applying are resident of Leeds. Bruce would like to see art graduates being able to develop their practice by providing them with free work-space and exhibition opportunities.
That’s the vision but by now you may be asking why? Right now I can only speak for myself:
I am sometimes a little confused by a culture which seems to devalue creativity. That creativity is somehow an attribute belonging only to those embedded in the Arts is not a viewpoint I subscribe to. My creativity is tantamount to my happiness and although this has taken me a long time to recognise and accept, I am glad I have arrived, finally at that conclusion. With this is mind and my personal beliefs of how creativity can affect mental wellbeing, I feel compelled to give the basement arts project a go.
I use the term ‘give a go’ both lightly and deliberately. In any venture, especially one as unlikely as turning a domestic environment into an art-space I feel it is important to dream big, but expect a hard slog. Whilst we endeavour to reach our visualisation of a well finished art and community space, we are aware of the pitfalls of funding. At this point we are booking events and happenings in our basement, in its current state, relying on likeminded people with the same work ethic as ourselves.
I also want; if it is at all possible, to give something back to the community that I feel has given something to me. The Leeds suburb of Beeston is now the place I have lived in the longest out of all the little places I have been, and say what you want about it, I have a pretty good life here. I have met some good people. I would like to somehow include this community in our venture.
If you are at all interested in the above and would like to find out more: Our first event: Performance Art on April 2nd http://basementarts.eventbrite.com/
We also have Unravel in May.
And a Poetry event in June.
For uptodate information follow @naughtyneigh