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more artists on more

As the hugely ambitious and innovative 3 month long artist-led project 'more' begins to take-off, artcornwall interviewed Sovay Berriman, Alison Sharkey and Steven Paige, as members of the steering group, about its conception and realisation...


How did more come about? What was the idea and the organisational structure behind it?

SB - As soon as I understood that there was to be a launch of ProjectBase that was to tie in with the opening of the Exchange I thought "here's an opportunity!". I spoke to a few people about the idea who seemed keen too. Alison and I teamed up to bring together people that we had worked with in the past, for instance through eek and Wheal Art Weekend - it then just grew from there. A steering committee was developed and people who wanted to take part began to develop their projects.

AS - I'd gone on a trip to the Liverpool Biennial with a group of artists from Cornwall and became interested in how the Independents there were working alongside the main biennial. We started wondering about how artists down in Cornwall could make the most of the attention being drawn into Cornwall with Project Base and the Newlyn Exchange opening.  There seemed to be a few of us all having the same idea so we decided to invite artists we had worked with before, get them together and gauge whether the idea had enough support to work.  The gut feeling we all had was not to get bogged down with major funding applications. All of us involved were going to be doing our own projects and making work so the aim was to keep the funding and running of the project as simple as possible.

SP I had also visited the Liverpool Biennial 2004 & with colleagues in 2006, and was equally impressed with the independents section of the shows, existing as they did alongside the larger commissioned and curated shows at the Tate Liverpool and in the city itself. It seemed viable that this could take place in Cornwall.

SB - Given the national coverage that artist-led projects had in Cornwall last summer it totally made sense to build on that and do something else this year; by working together and pooling our skills hopefully we'll bring lots of attention to shows in Cornwall.


And the website and name? The word 'more' sounds very optimistic and generous, which I know was the intention.

AS - The website came about from a conversation I had with Jem Mackay. Jem was interested in observing how the project unfolded, as his PhD is around creative collaboration and so he wanted to interview members of the group and film meetings.  In return for this he offered to build us a website that would build in a capacity for the projects to manage their own pages, because of Jems' expertise we were able to describe what ideally we wanted and he could make it happen. 

The design of the graphics was down to Sovay's work who came up with the map design and the logo.  Right at the beginning the trashy celeb magazine 'More' had been looked at as a starting point but apart from the name I don't think you'd spot the connection now.

So it's a lot about sharing skills and duties - and I would think it's similar for most artist-led shows. Talking of which are there comparable events either in the UK or elsewhere that more might be compared with?
SB - There are lots of examples of artists working together to bring more attention to their practice. This can be seen in artist-led groups all over the country, for instance LOT or Plan9 in Bristol; Glasgow International, The Event that's just taken place in Birmingham...

SP And of course the Independents section at the Liverpool Biennial. I think the point here is artist are doing it for themselves, a natural reaction if there is not an outlet for their work. This process is by no means new.  

Another example of an artist-led event, I would guess, would be FRED: an art invasion in Cumbria - which was featured on the website a few months ago, and is an example of an event happening in a more rural location.

Is the work in more going to be in a range of media and styles?
SB - Yes there's a really broad range of work taking part in more and I think this is its strength.

AS - I think what's interesting is not only the range of work but the range of sites being used including a ferry, second World War bunker, chapel, a disused school, a library and a wood.

SP As well as work being shown in alternative spaces, a lot of the work is short lived, the temporal nature of this and the choice of venues says a lot about how the work will be perceived in as much as the work itself. I think because of this 'non-traditional' approach the artists involved have let the work stretch and grow, with the artists experimenting with creating wide range of work.

What are, hopefully, the benefits of artists showing together like this?
SB -  Obviously we want to raise the profile of our work, projects and draw attention to the fact that there's quality work being made here, accompanied by challenging and critically aware debate.

SP Also the artists' work does not need an institutional stamp to give it a quality mark, and the fact that a timetable has been created has galvanised individuals into making work, something that might not have happened without the structure and profile of more.

How are the public going to know about the shows, and where and when they are?
SB - Posters, cards and 'rip-off' maps will be popping up in shops, libraries and galleries across Cornwall from now on. Press keeps going out to draw attention to the website, which is where you'll find the most in-depth and up-to-date info on each project.

SP Word of mouth is doing its bit as well, with all the artists involved passing on the word, people are getting to know about the projects.


images top to bottom: Alessandra Ausenda (Embark), Mr Hubris (Anti-Swiftie Association CD cover), Andy Hughes (Tales of the Unexpected)



The more Cornwall website is at www.morecornwall.org. All the details are on the site which is regularly updated.

more already features 35 named artists - with more likely to be joining - and 13 separate events or projects. There are artist-led shows and events throughout June, July and August.


RW June 13th 2007