I was recently invited to a weekend of 'future planning' in a remote North Yorkshire location. This event was hosted by the Poly-Technic, artists Steve Pool & Kate Genever. For them an opportunity to bring some people together who they’ve worked with and a culmination of their recent artist-led project located at SOAR Works which amongst other things led them to setting up The Poly-Technic. I worked with them on a Yorkshire Artspace residency project in Parson Cross.
On first reading the email invite (and list of others invitees) I was intrigued and intimidated in equal measure. Was this work or pleasure or a work related jolly? Could I really possibly allow myself a whole weekend away from family commitments? In the end I decided to take a leap of faith and to go – to join in this joint venture and “to look to the Future with action” I’m so glad I did.
Lots of good food, some drink, good walks in remote and beautiful landscape, good company, some awkward silences-some not, some light chat and some thoughtful conversation. There was even an archaeological discovery!
Collectively we responded to Francois Mattarasso quote “Art is vast, more or less equivalent in scale, nature and diversity to the human population of earth, and mostly informal, nonprofessional, unstructured, unregulated and unfunded. That world is not in crisis, except in so far as human lives and our future on the planet may be in crisis. The world, as we privileged Westerners have known it, is indeed ending. What will follow, in the arts, in welfare, in global security or in environmental change is uncertain. But we won’t begin to think well about where we are and what might be coming unless we realise how misleading is the view of the world from our own windows.” We also talked a bit about the concept of a Wider World Artist - those who work within non-arts institutions to interrogate thinking and challenge givens. And we have been asked to respond to the question “What is the moment we are living in?” for the next Poly –Technic publication.
Personally it was an opportunity to think deeply, share in a generous collective spirit and walk at pace faster than a 6 year olds! It has left a deep impression.
They plan to hold other events like this – it is not an exclusive club – so visit their site and join the collective spirit.
The Poly-Techinc was established in 2012 by artists Steve Pool and Kate Genever. It is a new model arts organisation, grown from a set of key principles, that is not buildings based or funding reliant. It aims to provide a melting pot for ideas, exploring how knowledge is found in places and people as well as books and the internet. The ambition is to bring people together to think around the intersection between art, places, research and in doing so build what they call an “Engaged Space”. They offer a mentoring service and have also offered opportunities such as bursaries, a summer school, residencies and a commissions scheme.
Rachael Dodd, Programme Manager Yorkshire Artspace