A series of artists commissions,
talks and workshops taking place
in Luton from
January — June 2016
Sunridge Avenue is a suburban street with trees and parked cars. It's the street in which artist, Dominic Allan grew up, in which his ageing parents still live. It's a street that is both inoffensive and undemanding, save for the nightmare neighbours at no. 34. It's also the name of this project because it is a place from which all things can grow. It's close to town; it's walk–able from the train station. Easyjet planes flyover and you can hear the football.
A newly commissioned Martin Creed sculpture will sit in the front garden of no. 32. It is un–steal–able. It is the name for this project because the gallery space in the town is used as a crèche and for business meetings. And they charge artists to use it. There's no art programme either. Sunridge Avenue is the name for this project because it shows that anyone can sit at their Mum's dining table and write an arts council application, ask loads of great people to join in and achieve both. It's the name for this project because we don't need a formal gallery space. The accepted mode of art presentation is now outdated and bores the artist Dominic Allan. It's the home for the project because you are assured a very warm welcome (if you call first).
More why not. Why? Because Luton has earned the right to be considered as an (alternative) site for contemporary visual practice – with outcomes really not considered too much at this stage. Why? Because Allan's address book has expanded. Why? Because the heritage is strong. We are proudly post–industrial, proudly culturally diverse but also little Englanders. Our home is our castle but we know it. Why? Because being the underdog is empowering. Why? Because there is a growing feeling in the town that a new wave is emerging. Why? Because the generation of doers within the town are successfully rubbing against the young ones. All are doing it on their own but for each other.
Why? The timing is right. Sunridge Avenue Projects builds on 2013's Init, an Arts Council supported three month research and development residency which was based at Departure Lounge in Luton town centre. Init's aims were also to suggest Luton as a site for visual art practice, a context in which no formal artists studios exist nor does any framework to support artists generally. Artwork was created in a huge space over a top floor within an old building society. Artists, musicians and playwrights were afforded time to respond to this idea of a town like Luton being a blank canvas. Emphasis was placed on the process of making and resultant conversations.
Arts Council England and a patron called Stephen Weber have injected enough funds into this dream to enable artists to be commissioned to work in Luton; some who know the town and some who don't. Plus Grizedale Arts. Between January and April 2016. The ambition is to present Luton as a context in which artists can actually work, outside of the gallery system, to consider Luton as a site of research. This project is not about commodified outcomes. It is about taking a postindustrial, much derided town and responding to its actual ingredients. No showboating. Serious hard work and a vat–full of humour. Art does not need to be that serious, does it?
We are honoured to have the privilege to work on Sunridge Avenue Projects with Eddie Chambers, who will be writing an essay in the publication... of the project... Waledemar Januszack will be taking time out from film making and his Sunday Times column to write a text about Sunridge Avenue. Bedwyr Williams will appear unannounced, unleashed quite possibly at Grizedale Arts House of Ferment day in February. The wild card. S Mark Gubb... the history of Luton's post–punk brilliance will be re–imagined collaboratively with UK Decay... Sarfraz Manzoor... commissioned to make a film about the Asian community within Luton, set against a backdrop of Luton's ageing white British community... a street level rhetoric chit–chatting to those in care homes... Damien Good. He's the visuals man. Public identity. Bulls–eye every time. Since 2006. Think Job Centre think Gob Centre. Kerry and Emily, a re–considering of Lutons youth unemployment. Immersive, relational, direct, relevant. Mark Titchner will be Mark Titchner. At Sunridge Avenue itself. Re–imagining the iconic British net curtain as public art facing you facing Mr & Mrs Allan. Jasleen Kaur will be giving a talk. Martin Creed is going metre by metre, all different bricks, site for sculpture; the Allan family (since 75') front garden. Doyle & Mallinson will be at SNAP (Social Needs Awareness Project) collaborating with teenagers and whoever else wants to drop in. Luton riots, a town hall burnt down, a radical, an in your face three weeks of cross–collaboration with outcomes unknown. Films, go–pros. Fires will be lit... watch this space for dates. Joe Fletcher Orr will be talking (19/1/16) about Birkenhead market, his gallery: Cactus, Merseyside & doing it on your own. University of Bedfordshire are hosting monthly artists talks (we thank you). January to April. SNAP are our new best mates and hosts. Paul and Linda (also known as Muddy). Local legends; providers, facilitators and all–round pillars of the creative community since the 70's. SNAP is 1 minute from the train station, 22 minutes from St. Pancras, cough). Get your crayons ready. Barnfield College Art & Design students will be our extended friends, collaborators, eyes and ears – can't wait. And finally, School of The Damned are a radical, unaccredited, free MA fine art course. The future of the British Art School. Critical discourse and no fees. They'll be giving away free artwork at Sunridge Avenue.
Justin Hammond – curator
Luton Open Arts Group
Alan Kane – artist
Eddie Chambers – writer
Waldemar Januszack – writer
Bedwyr Williams – artist
S Mark Gubb – artist
Sarfraz Manzoor – writer & broadcaster
Damien Good – designer
Kerry Campbell & Emily Pope – artists
Mark Titchner – artist
Jasleen Kaur – artist
Martin Creed – artist
Shaun Doyle & Mally Mallinson – artists
Grizedale Arts – arts organisation
Joe Fletcher Orr – artist
University of Bedfordshire
School of The Damned