The Artists’ International Development Fund is a joint partnership between the British Council and the Arts Councils in England and Northern Ireland which opens up international perspectives for artists to expand their horizons.
The Artists’ International Development Fund is more than just a way to put on an exhibition in another country. It gives artists the chance to share their passion with others and get their names out there. Artists build valuable connections and strong networks during their time abroad, as well as immersing yourself in a completely different culture.
Mark Devereux Projects and the Finnish Art Agency
Art director Mark Devereux, founder of Mark Devereux Projects (MDP), has been developing a project in Finland with the Finnish Art Agency (FAA), including the establishment of a long-term collaboration with FAA Director Laura Köönikkä to facilitate research residencies, professional development programmes and presentation opportunities for artists from the North of England and Finland supported by MDP and FAA. This partnership will allow artists to build networks and relationships that can have an important impact on their future careers.
Mark's activities in Finland have included speaking at FAA’s inaugural SHIFT artist development programme in 2015, during which Mark met with 15 artists working in the region and was given the opportunity to find out about their practices, as well as more about the Finnish art scene.
In September 2016 the AIDF allowed Mark to spend five days in Helsinki, thus further developing the programme and meeting artists, galleries and funders that will potentially be part of the full programme. The Finnish Art Agency also visited Manchester to discuss ways of working together in a structured and in-depth manner, and to develop more concrete plans for partnership.
Borders: Lou Gilbert Scott and Anne Brodie
Lou Gilbert Scott and Anne Brodie completed a two week collaborative project which involved researching and navigating the literal and metaphorical border areas of Sápmi, homeland to the semi-nomadic Sami people of the Arctic. Their aim was to use clay and conversation to explore how borders inform, define and challenge our cultural and individual identities.
By building links with artists and significant art and cultural institutions in Northern Finland and Norway facilitated by the Finnish Institute in London, the Art Producer Kaisa Kerätär, and the AIDF, the project allowed the artists a greater understanding of the Sami Culture.
Lou and Anne travelled to the Arctic to meet artists and establish new introductions to cultural and visual art organisations in the North of Finland and Norway. Their journey started with meetings and connections made in Helsinki, after which they travelled to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. The trip included visits to Kemijärvi and Sodankylä and across the Norwegian border into Karasjok where they visited the Sami Centre of Contemporary Art. They visited the Sami University College in Kautokeinowas and the University of Helsinki’s Biological station at Kilpisjarvi.
Libby Scarlett in Collaboration with Ahvaland Print Workshop
June – September 2016
Libby Scarlett’s project took her to the Åland Islands in Finland, where she was invited to complete a residency at the printmaking studio, Ahvaland. She was offered support in kind to learn new printmaking skills that she was unfamiliar with through the founder of the studio, Edward Johansson, who proved to be an inspiring host. In addition, Libby’s aim was to create a new body of work that responded to the remote landscape of the immediate area. This seemed the ideal time to make it happen.
The print making workshop of Ahvaland on the Åland Islands was visited over two trips between June and September of 2016 in order to create a professional connection with a studio in a completely unfamiliar country. The project was inspired by notable aspects of the surrounding nature, such as the moss and seaweed which grows and moulds to the islands in abundance. It was whilst exploring the islands by bicycle that Libby noticed this phenomenon but also started to connect it to notions of home. For instance, what is home when one feels no sense of belonging anywhere, when one is always happy to leave and to fit oneself into another new place, or when one is completely alone. But by connecting to the earth can one begin to alleviate a sense of turmoil that often comes with such reshaping, transient exercises?
During the month of June, Libby started to make prints and wrote a series of texts to accompany each which mainly centred on the theme of fitting to place. The early summer also allowed her to assist a curator hang the summer show, Crossings at Ahvaland, of which Libby was a part, and connect with other visiting artists. In September 2016 Libby printed and made an edition of 10 books, titled Temporary Fittings, which brought together her prints and text. The text was letterpress printed at the studio, after which Libby was inducted and taught how to etch.
The work Libby produced at Ahvaland was covered in the local newspaper in Åland. Both the work and the concepts that were developed have led to the planning of a workshop based around the experience to be held at The Whitworth Gallery in Manchester in February 2017.