First Young Artist-in-Residence announced at Museum and Art Gallery

By Jamie Hill - 24 June 2020

Arts and Culture

Seventeen-year-old New College student James Keel is the inaugural Young Artist-in-Residence at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

The gallery, on Bath Road in Old Town, has launched a Young Artist-in-Residence programme to promote emerging creative talent in Swindon, and James is the first in the gallery’s 79 year history.

The Young Artist-in-Residence programme will celebrate the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art and provide a unique development opportunity for young artists in a professional arts environment.

While in post, James will interpret and produce creative responses to Swindon’s nationally significant collection. He will also act as a young ambassador for the gallery, looking to inspire other young people with an interest in art.

James said of art: “It helps me to relax when stressed or anxious and has helped me to express how I feel. I enjoy expressing myself artistically because it gives others an insight into how I’m feeling at a particular time.

“It is very important for young people to have access to art as a way of processing and dealing with thoughts and emotions.”

The ‘Young Artist-in-Residence’ programme is run in partnership with New College Swindon and forms part of the Art on Tour project from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

Supported by Swindon Borough Council, Art on Tour aims to bring Swindon’s impressive art collection to a wider audience throughout 2020, conferring cultural and educational benefits on people right across the town.

The programme is part of a wider initiative of free art engagement in Swindon schools.

Alongside his new role, James is studying A Levels in Fine Art, Photography and Media Studies, and spends much of his time creating. He has a particular interest in drawing and eventually hopes to use his skills in the creative industry. Much of his work is inspired by his surroundings and he enjoys capturing places from new perspectives.

James will be producing artwork in response to the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art to highlight the significance of this resource for schools.

The collection comprises over 600 artworks, including three Turner Prize winners, and is acknowledged to be one of the most nationally significant collections outside London.

It covers 140 years of Modern Art and includes household names like L.S Lowry, Lucian Freud, Grayson Perry, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Michael Craig-Martin, Howard Hodgkin, Frank Auerbach, and Richard Long.

It features work from most major movements and schools in Modern British Art, as well as an extensive collection of work by local artists like Desmond Morris.

New College Swindon, with its extensive arts offer, is a key local partner in the Art on Tour project. Its A Level Creative Arts Pathway offers a range of interlinking subjects, building a foundation for a career in the creative industries or supporting progression onto university courses.

Karen Pau, Assistant Curriculum Manager Art & Design/Photography, said: “New College is extremely proud of all their learners who are taking part in this amazing opportunity with Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and Art on Tour.  It is such an inspiring project and wonderful to see our amazingly talented young people play such a big part in it.”

While the Art on Tour project has recently turned its attention to online arts engagement and is supporting schools with an online Learning Library, it hopes to revive its schools outreach work later in the year. In the meantime, James’s impressive work will be displayed on social media and the Art on Tour blog.

Mags Parker, Art on Tour Learning Officer, said: “We are very excited to introduce James to the world. He is an immensely talented young man with a very bright future, who has overcome some significant challenges.

“The Young Artist-in-Residence programme is a key part of the Art on Tour mission to bring more art to more people. The inspiring effect of positive young role models cannot be over-stated and we hope that by promoting James’s development, his work will inspire other young people to get involved.”

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