Young artists rally together to highlight the need for more support

By Claire Dukes - 25 September 2018

Arts and CultureCommunityPolitics

A group of artists working in Swindon are hosting an exhibition to put the spotlight on cuts to arts funding.

This weekend, 28 and 29 September, a group of artists in Swindon are putting together an exhibition hosting an array of art, live music and poetry - ‘I Can’t Buy a House, and Yet I Decorate Yours’.

Home to many young artists, Swindon is not alone in being struck by the backlash of cuts to arts funding across the UK. As a response, ‘I Can’t Buy a House, and Yet I Decorate Yours’ looks to highlight the need for more support and recognition of Swindon’s young artists.

One of the organisers of the event said: “Right now is a really crucial time for artists living in Swindon, and across the UK - art can often overlooked which means so are the artists themselves.

“Making art is a really powerful and important outlet for people to express themselves – often used as a coping mechanism. We want to show people just how many young and talented artists are living, and working, in Swindon - we hope people attend on Friday and Saturday to show their support.”

Artsite, Swindon's original community art hub, will be co-hosting the event. Artsite Trustees, Vicky Silver and Sally Taylor, have been supporting working artists in Swindon for the last 18 years and opened Artsite and The Post Modern at Theatre Square 10 years ago.

With on and off talks with Swindon Borough Council, Vicky and Sally have been making constant efforts to expand Artsite in order to provide artists with more studio spaces in Swindon. Artsite currently has provided Swindon with a theatre space and 13 studios - after 18 years the trustees are still determined to fight the corner of the arts.

Vicky said: "During this past month, the run-up to Swindon Open Studios has shown how rich and diverse the Swindon art scene is, but it stays mainly hidden for the rest of the year and many artists find themselves working in virtual Isolation. So, when our young students leave college or university where do they go to for support or peer mentoring to further their ambitions to continue their Journey as professional artists.

"Artsite's resident artists researched art spaces by visiting studios like Phoenix Art Space in Brighton. Artsite knew they wanted to develop studio spaces on a similar model. One of the most essential ingredients for them was to not only practice their own art, but also to mentor and develop young artists who found themselves without direction after leaving college or university. A moto from the Arnolfini in Bristol "Don't target communities build one" and that is exactly what Artsite set out to do.

"Creating a community is not an easy concept for councils or funders, but it is important we get this message across.

"It is essential studios are affordable and have 24-hour access as most young artists still need to go to work. How else do they live? And it's important we offer our students these facilities otherwise they go to where it all happens in another town.

"‘I Can’t Buy a House, and Yet I Decorate Yours’ is a perfect example of giving young people the ability to speak for themselves. We have a business plan ready to take Theatre Square forward - this would give more artists’ studios which would then help to pay for some key rolls to develop the future of visual arts in the town centre. Whilst we make no real distinction between different styles of creativity, the visual arts are always left in the cold. So perhaps that should be our target next year."

Speaking about the importance of the arts, James Osborn - one of the artists exhibiting this weekend - added: "Art is how humans cope with a culture of stress and bullying.

“Artists are the medicine that can heal the damage done by governments and corrupt entities that damage the planet. Galleries and art spaces are the lighthouses in the storm. Art makes us examine our beliefs and ideologies to make sure we are on the right path."

‘I Can’t Buy a House, and Yet I Decorate Yours’ will take place at Artsite's Number Nine Gallery Friday 28 September and Saturday 29 September. Friday will exhibit a private view, and Saturday will be open to the general public from 7pm.

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