I’ve been ruminating on the idea of providing domestic space for artists for a while… and in Spring 2017 I will launch a new initiative – Avenue – that supports artists/ curators/ academics visiting Belfast, from my own home.
My proposal is to offer affordable accommodation to individuals and groups in a supportive, artistic environment, equipped with 4 large work/ sleep spaces just 10 minutes’ walk or 5 minutes by bus from Belfast city centre.
Whether visiting the city to undertake research, install exhibitions, deliver lectures or participate in residencies, this will be a site for ideas generation and exchange, local/ national/ international networking and relaxation. Guests will be encouraged to come and go as they please, engage with others or seek space and time for reflection. Collaboration with galleries, universities and networks will support activity at Avenue.
Four comfortable double bedrooms, one single bedroom, a well-stocked (art and fiction) library, projector, on-street parking, an outdoor courtyard working space, and excellent connections to the city centre and elsewhere in Northern Ireland (by foot, car, bus or train) make this an excellent base from which to work. There are parks, reservoirs, bars, cafes, restaurants, large supermarkets, bakeries, takeaways and off-licences within a 30-second to 10-minute radius, before reaching the city centre.
For me, this will allow me to embed my artist development and network interests, as well as earn a small amount on the side to support the projects that I generate. I think it will bring together my formal and informal approaches and social skills in a way that is beneficial to artists, to me and to the visual arts infrastructure in the city.
I am currently undertaking research into existing spaces, ranging from the East Street Art Hotel in Leeds, pictured above, to Enough Room for Space in Brussels, run by artists Maarten Vanden Eynde and Marjolijn Dijkman, to Clarke Gallery, which was run by my good friend Elly Clarke in Berlin from 2008 -2011. I will also draw on my experiences at Hospitalfield – itself a multifunctional space operating variously, since 1260, as a hospital, art college and home – to consider how this initiative could operate.
I will update details of this new venture on here in the coming months.