Aspex Gallery, The Vulcan, PO1 3BF
Monday 01 October 2018 – Thursday 31 October 2019
A region-wide programme connecting talented artists to arts professionals across organisations in the region. In partnership with Creative Skills & 14 organisations across the region, this programme sees 16 expert mentors supporting 18 practitioners across a 1-year period to develop their practice, make new connections & consider new ways of working. The programme includes: open call to our 50k+ network, selection process with partner Creative Skills, an introduction session; a social event bringing together the programme participants informally, at least 4 half-day mentoring sessions as well as email & telephone exchange, a mid-term review session & a final social exchange session.
In December 12 artists and 1 artist-led project were selected and paired with an appropriate mentor from a regionally-based visual arts organisation.
We received an excellent response to our call-out – 70 applications. It demonstrates the need for on-going professional support, but also a commitment from regional artists to developing high-quality practice. Selecting and matching the applicants and mentors was a challenge, but made considerably easier with the support of our partners Creative Skills, and in particular Jane Sutherland, its Director.
We anticipate that mentors will gain as much from the relationship as mentees; it is intended as a two-way learning experience rather than a teacher-learner one. Nurturing a partnership based upon mutual trust and respect will be key for the relationship to become an effective tool for career development.
Ros Carter, Head of Exhibitions at John Hansard Gallery who will mentor artist Chantal Powell said ‘Taking part in the VASW mentoring scheme continues to be a great experience. There is most definitely a sense that this is a learning process for both mentor and mentee.’
Commenting on last year’s programme, she added ‘on a personal level, mentoring was a new experience for me, so I’m very grateful for Katy Conner’s patience while we both found our way through the process! It’s a fantastic way for both mentor and mentee to make new connections which have the potential to be long lasting and hugely beneficial. Being a part of the wider membership of the scheme is incredibly useful and that network of support is invaluable. I am sure that over this coming year the experience will continue to be utterly fascinating and will stretch my own knowledge and experience as well as being helpful to Chantal at this exciting point in her practice.’
The programme kicked-off with an informal introductory session for all participants at Exeter Phoenix in January. It included talks from previous mentees who shared their experience and the benefits it had for their practices and wider career.
It was also the first opportunity for mentors and mentees to meet each other as well as the other participants on the programme. One of the aims is for the cohort to become a mutual support network for each other. This is supported through the initial gathering as well as a mid-term review in June and a final meet-up once the programme has come to an end.
Artist Trish Morrissey who is paired with Ali Roche from Spike Film and Video said ‘I think that the opportunity to have a mentor at any stage of your career is invaluable. Having somebody to bounce ideas off and to get feedback from, especially if that person is outside your normal network is very beneficial. They can be neutral and more honest. I am hoping to use moving image in my new project and have very limited experience so having Ali Roche as my mentor is very exciting and I hope it will take my ideas to places I have yet to imagine.‘
The mentees and their mentors are:
Graham Guy Robinson with Sara Matson (Curator, Tate St.Ives); Jessica Thorn with Erica Steer (Director, Devon Guild of Craftsmen); Trish Morrissey with Ali Roche (Producer, Spike Island); Preston St.Union with Jo Leahy (Director, SVA); Martyn Cross with Sarah Chapman (Director, Peninsula Arts); Laura Aish with Richard Tomlinson (Creative Technologist, Somerset Film); Chantal Powell with Ros Carter (Head of Exhibitions, John Hansard Gallery); Chantal Brooks with Sally Watkins (Curator, B-side); Melanie Young with Alexa De Ferranti (Director, Lower Hewood Farm); Jo Ball with Blair Todd (Curator, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange); Naomi Frears with Matt Burrows (Curator, Exeter Phoenix); Bram Arnold with Rob Bowman (Head of Programme, Arnolfini); Anna Pickering with Stephen Foster (Director, John Hansard Gallery).
Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.
Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network