International Artists Head to Blackpool

Abingdon Studios, Blackpool’s newest contemporary art studio space recently acknowledged as ‘best venue’ in the Guardian’s insider’s guide to the town, is set to host a series of visiting artists from as far as Berlin and Canada in a new programme this month entitled WORK/LEISURE. The programme, which sees artists taking up residency in the town for up to one month, attracted applications from sixty six artists from across the UK and Europe, will be an exciting one for the town. It gives new opportunities for art production in the town and supports the development of skills for artists already based here.

The programme gives artists who are having some success developing their careers in very different towns and cities the opportunity to work alongside the existing community of six Fylde Coast resident artists already based in Abingdon Studios alongside visual art students from Blackpool & the Fylde College who use the space as part of their course. The residencies are designed to enable artists to research and develop new work in the historically and culturally unique location of Blackpool and have been brought together by co-ordinator Tom Ireland of the long standing and respected Supercollider Contemporary Art Projects. It is being financially supported by Arts Council England who are increasingly investing in the arts and cultural scene in Blackpool and Wyre.

The five artists who will be in residence are Benjamin Orlow (London), Ralph Dorey (London), John Lawrence (London), Nina Koennamann (Berlin) and Katharina Ludwig (Berlin) and all are extremely intrigued and inspired by the richness of the Blackpool landscape. The first, Benjamin Orlow, will arrive early this month and be in town, based at Abingdon studios above Abingdon St Market, developing his work and sharing experiences with artists based in Blackpool and the surrounding areas.

The studios are also working in partnership with Blackpool’s Other Worlds Festival (an international festival of experimental music and sound taking place in April) to add an additional 6th residency to the programme. Sound artist Adam Bassanta (Canada) will arrive this month to make new work for an exhibition which will run at the studios from 7-10 April during the festival.

Garth Gratrix, Places for Art Project Manager, said:

“We’re really pleased to have such a strong line-up of artists coming to take up residence in the studios. The programme has been in development since early 2015 and securing investment from Arts Council England in order to make it a reality is a real vote of confidence in our vision of Blackpool being a home for the production of more contemporary art.

“Not only is this an opportunity to bring international artists to the town but it is also a chance for Blackpool based artists to interact, share skills and develop their own practice alongside them.”

Cllr Vikki Singleton, Lead Member for the Arts on Blackpool Council, said: “Blackpool is really developing a name for itself in the arts sector.

“Our projects with LeftCoast, including the Abingdon Studios, are starting to put the town on the map as a place where top artists want to come and develop their work.

“Not only is that good for art enthusiasts but it helps to inspire our student artists who can learn and be encouraged by the experts. It also helps to bring a different type of visitor to the Blackpool and widens our appeal as the UK’s number one seaside town.”

The WORK/LEISURE residency programme is initiated by Abingdon Studios and delivered in partnership with LeftCoast and the Grundy Art Gallery. Abingdon Studios has been made possible through the support of Arts Council England, LeftCoast and Blackpool Council.

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