Art gallery's new way to find and show work

One art gallery has found a new way to commission and display new work during the coronavirus close-down.

It has launched a series of new digital commissions from leading artists across the UK.

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Artists commissioned include Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Kirsty Harris, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Jane Poulton and Feral Practice.

They have been asked to create digital artworks, to be released online over the next four months.

The artworks, which will appear across a range of social media platforms, are part of a response to the coronavirus crisis.

Scarborough Museums Trust, in association with Flow Associates, is behind the project.

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Chief executive of the Trust Andrew Clay said: “We want our work to make an impact.

“Defining that impact before we plan our exhibitions and wider programme means we can ensure we are relevant and responsive to our communities all the time.”

Andrew Claypic Richard PonterAndrew Claypic Richard Ponter
Andrew Claypic Richard Ponter

“It’s so important at the moment to have access to the arts and culture at this difficult time: for many people, they’re a thought-provoking lifeline, and have a proven positive effect on our mental health.”

Head of curation, collections and exhibitions at the Trust Simon Hedges said: “Museums and galleries have a social responsibility to support communities, now more than ever before.

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“We can provide a platform for creative expression that enables artists to share their messages to communities in lockdown.

“Their artworks can support personal wellbeing or become an opportunity to consider some of these wider issues.”

As part of its commitment to access, the Trust has been working with artistic producer Sophie Drury-Bradey and disability activists Touretteshero to ensure people with diverse minds and bodies can become more engaged in its work.

“Before the lockdown, we started to explore how access can be a creative stimulus for our projects and how to extend a warm welcome to our disabled communities,” said Simon.

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“We’re now looking at the lockdown as an opportunity to continue this work and find creative and imaginative ways of ensuring people can access our digital content.”

A range of access ‘tools’ will accompany the digital content to support as many people as possible to connect, including visual guides or ‘social stories’ by Scarborough-based illustrator Savannah Storm that will provide audiences with downloadable information about what to expect before accessing digital content.

Alongside this, subtitles will be used wherever possible, with audio descriptions to follow.

Supporting children and families to access content is important and the Trust’s learning manager Christine Rostron: “We’re looking at a range of ways to help families engage with the learning activities we’re about to launch online in fun, age-appropriate ways.

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The intention is to continue this work for the long term. “Being inclusive and accessible is not an add-on: it’s becoming part of our DNA,” said Andrew.

The artists involved in the new digital commissions will all be participating in exhibitions at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda next year.

The artists taking part and their work:Lucy Carruthers will explore how we forge connections at a time of distancing.She’s interested in the relationship between inside and outside, all the more pertinent during lockdown, and asks how social isolation affects museum objects.

Work by Lucy CarruthersWork by Lucy Carruthers
Work by Lucy Carruthers

Estabrak’s Homecoming is a multi-layered touring and participatory project using community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges around home, identity, and displacement.

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Estabrak and Jade Montserrat who will be amongst the artists taking part in Scarborough Museums Trust New Digital Commissions.Picture: Tony BartholomewEstabrak and Jade Montserrat who will be amongst the artists taking part in Scarborough Museums Trust New Digital Commissions.Picture: Tony Bartholomew
Estabrak and Jade Montserrat who will be amongst the artists taking part in Scarborough Museums Trust New Digital Commissions.Picture: Tony Bartholomew

It started last year in Brighton and Hull and will now see the social experiment Homecoming: A Placeless Place, which invites honest expression and participation through UV light, invisible ink and dark spaces, introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.

Kirsty Harris is creating a new digital project for children and families during social distancing.

It will imaginatively bring to life some of the objects in the collection to connect with children who are also struggling with social isolation.

Wanja Kimani will be creating walking journeys from a child’s eye view as she spends more time noticing the world around her and sensory experiences become amplified.

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Work by Wanja KimaniWork by Wanja Kimani
Work by Wanja Kimani

Jade Montserrat will consider the socio-political impact of lockdown and encourage us to discover new ways of being based on mutual support, rather than a model that exacerbates existing social inequalities.

Jane Poulton is creating a series of photographs and text that focus on personal objects she owns and considers whether those that mean the most to us are often acquired at times of crisis, and what comfort they bring.

Feral Practice will develop a digital artwork leading to a major commission on the theme of extinction.