Over the last decade international artist group myvillages.org and the UK’s leading rural arts organisation Grizedale Arts have proven their ambition to understand and act upon the particular conditions and character of rural social and public spaces, including implementing the concept of a particular rural art space through a number of initiatives, projects, conferences and publications. Both organisations have produced a significant number of projects and prototypes, which suggest new spatial and architectural constructs grounded in the their rural context.
For their project in The AF Project Space myvillages.org and Grizedale Arts presented an exhibition showcasing current projects and an accompanying events programme exploring new spatial concepts for the rural. Taking the form of a live project Good News From Nowhere: Building in the Countryside combined debate, workshops, food and trade in a dynamic public forum for the discussion of rural architectural strategies.
With our relationship to the countryside and its future being a pressing a societal concern, the project presented a timely focus on rural development, advocating for the importance of traditional rural typologies, while also developing new concepts that emerge from the socio-spatial, cultural and economic realties of rural communities today.
Each week of the project was organised around one of the three thematic blocks: Farms (farming and land-use), Shops (local production and trade), and Halls (buildings and public use), all of which are relevant across both urbanand rural realms. The installation in the AF Project Space combined a rotating themed display, presented alongside a permanent collection of live projects from both organisations.
Alongside the exhibition, visitors were be able to enjoy a number of live daily activities including:
- shopping at myvillages.org ’s International Village Shop and Grizedale Arts’ Honest Shop from Coniston;
- tasting one of the daily lunchtime dishes served from the special London Larder;
- browsing through the Bibliobox library of international rural cultural projects.
Throughout December, an extensive public events programme explored existing typologies of rural buildings and investigate their contemporary rural and rural-urban versions through a range of evening panel discussions and Saturday lunchtime workshops.
Good News From Nowhere: Building in the Countryside was selected through the 2013 AF Project Space Open Call.
The artist group Myvillages.org sits within a tradition of rural art communities, but instead of occupying a “Künstlerdorf” (artists’ village), the group represents a dispersed cultural space for production and dissemination, with its projects spanning across a vast trans-local network of rural places, communities and initiatives.
The collective’s interest is the rural as a space for and of cultural production. The collective aims of Myvillages.org are informed by the contextual nature of our individual practices and the autobiographical fact that all founding members come from small villages.
Myvillages’ activities range from long-term collaborative research projects to small-scale informal presentations, from work in private spaces to public conferences, from exhibitions to publications and from personal questions to public debate.
Myvillages.org was founded by artists Kathrin Böhm (Germany/UK), Wapke Feenstra (Netherlands) and Antje Schiffers (Germany) in 2003.
About Grizedale Arts
Grizedale arts is based in the Crake Valley in England's Lake District. The organisation is truly rural being based on a hill farm which it runs as a small-holding, residency base and open garden. Despite its location the collective sees itself primarily as a social enterprise with it's principal objects being to place creative activity back into it's central role in social and economic activity. This extends to working with artists to change how they work, how their input can be useful and consequently valued by a wide demographic - informing the ordinary. The approach does not attempt to deliver the spectacular or innovative, rather it delivers an enhanced normality. Artists are integrated and authorship shared or ideally ignored. To this end the organisation is involved in building, commerce and social structures establishing working, self supporting and sustainable models for both the immediate community but also in a wider art world both nationally and internationally.
An evening exploring future visions for agricultural land use, in discussion with a select panel of speakers.
An evening panel discussion exploring shops and trade, local production and trans-local economies.
An informal afternoon session to present and brainstorm ideas and ambitions for the development of places in the countryside that visitors have, have a link to, or might want to develop.
The Palestinian Centre for Architectural Conservation in Palestine present a project in Birzeit village by Yara Sharif and Nasser Golzari for Riwaq.
An afternoon session exploring the reality of running a farm, husbandry and conservation policies.
An evening panel discussion exploring village halls and other rural public buildings, featuring the current development of the Coniston Cricket Pavilion.