press release

Grizedale Arts is a new kind of art organisation, which is looking to make art and artists useful again. Rethinking ways to work with, and as a part of society. Moving on from the museum gallery space and the 20th century idea of art as critique, art as reflection, art as questioner and art about art and the art space. It’s time art started coming up with some answers, if you have no answers then just stop.

Grizedale is not a gallery, not even a single entity with a single brand and a single purpose. To fit our de-essentialised world, Grizedale is a moving, evolving constellation of activity, local and global, with many objectives and many ideas, connected through the programme and through the web. It is a process and it is the process which is visible and which is the form itself.

The organisation is based on the historic hill farms of Lawson Park and Low Parkamoor, in a dramatic and romantic setting, in the centre of the English Lake District. This region, now a national park, was the birthplace of English romanticism and developed in parallel with rise of Alpine tourism in the 18th and 19th centuries, in response to the encroaching industrial revolution.

Over the last 200 years the region has become increasingly complicated by the multiple users and ideologies that impose themselves upon the landscape. This scenario, a sort of microcosm of the wider world, forms the backdrop for Grizedale’s unique residency programme, which builds an evolving community of artists and an international network of projects, addressing social situations at points of heightened cultural change.

In July 2006 Grizedale Arts sent a team of seven artists and curators to live in the mountain village of Toge, Japan, for one month. This project formed part of the Echigo-Tsumari triennial, a contemporary art festival designed to regenerate this rural area through the introduction of site specific art works. As we believed this approach to be flawed, the artists were simply briefed to help the village with the problems that concerned them, to be of use. With reference to Kurosawa’s film, one changing culture, the artists, were asked to help another, the farmers, in their struggle with change. The projects that came out of this residency all attempted to encourage the village to make decisions about their future, to take control of their culture weather that might be ending their way of life or changing it to better fit with the forces being applied to them.

This exhibition at Galerie Lucy Mackintosh shows some of the work produced by the Seven in the village and selected work from other projects which we are currently developing – our new headquarters at Lawson Park, our project space at Low Parkamoor farm, a public art strategy for the rural town of Egremont and the beginnings of a project with the Chinese village of Nanling. These are ambitious projects with long term aims; so this presentation shows a half way house, a camp along the way and a chance to make contact with another region of the world which has much in common with these other local and global stories.

All the work in this space has not been made for consumption as art product, it has been made with a constructive purpose in mind; to have a dialogue with the people we work with and to effect change in real situations. The form of this gallery installation reflects an alternative to traditional aesthetic values. The aesthetic of Grizedale is not formal, but moral, political and driven by necessity and practicality. What you see here is a series of rooms, positions or approaches in occupation, a kind of shanty town: where everything has its use, where even the pictures can be used to make a wall. The works of folk art from Egremont are promoting the town way beyond its normal sphere of infl uence and playing a valuable role in changing the ambition of the town. The artist and architect schemes for Low Parkamoor re-vision how rural life might be.

After this exhibition closes, seven of the Toge farmers are to come to Grizedale to work on our farm and to demonstrate new approaches to the villagers and farmers of the Lake District. This continuing dialogue and exchange of ideas, follows on from the cultural dialogue that films such as The Seven Samurai personify, both in content and in construction.

Curated by Alistair Hudson and Adam Sutherland

The Return of the Seven Samurai
Low Parkamoor
Project Space:
Kuratoren: Alistair Hudson, Adam Sutherland

mit Olaf Breuning, Pablo Bronstein, Marcus Coates, Lucienne Cole, Jamie & Aiko Goodenough, Grizedale Arts , Karen Guthrie, Nina Pope, Barnaby Hosking, juneau/projects/, Jen Liu, Nathaniel Mellors, Tim Olden, Olivia Plender, Jesse Rae, Dan Robinson, Bedwyr Williams, Artist House