Aspex, in partnership with Strong Island, the University of Portsmouth, at Victorious Festival, commissioned three artists to generate new artwork, supported by students from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University.
These artworks were located at Victorious Festival in Summer 2017, inspired by and made using recycled materials. A trail map directed visitors to each artwork and encouraged interaction either physically, through encouraging participation in an arts activity, or digitally by uploading photographs and comments to social media.
In September 2017 the works returned to Aspex where they were showcased in a final exhibition, a venue that is recognised internationally for showcasing the best of contemporary visual arts.
The artworks were a response to the themes of recycling, re-purposing and the natural environment, inspired by Aspex’s Everything comes from the Egg exhibition, which comprised of reused and re-purposed work made by artist Stephen Turner whilst living in a wooden egg-shaped vessel for one year.
The commissioned artists were: Paul Gonella and Tristan Savage (Strong Island); Rainatu Habib (University of Portsmouth, Illustration Graduate) – who will act as Aspex’s artist-in-residence for the August period; Megan Humphries – who created a community artwork, engaging the people of Portsmouth through participatory workshops in the lead up to the Festival.
Artist Megan Humphries said:
“I am delighted to be part of SURFACE TENSION, working alongside the local community – children and families to produce an artwork in response to a very pertinent theme. I can’t wait to see the final outcomes!”
SURFACE TENSION also saw the professional development of six creative industries students from the University.
Faculty Promotions Manager of the Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries, Denise Callender said:
“This is a really exciting opportunity for our students to work directly with the commissioned artists and to be involved in making work that responds to a sustainability theme. Students that have taken part in previous collaborative projects with Aspex have all gained valuable professional experience that has led to creative industries employment locally and further afield.”
The University of Portsmouth students, who were selected to be ambassadors were:
- Laura Quelch, a 2nd year studying Graphic Design
- Toni Atanasova, a 3rd year studying Digital Media
- Joanna Szycewska, a placement student studying Film and Television Studies
- Josie Keable, a 2nd year studying Illustration
- Emily Rutherfield, a Masters student
The volunteers participated for various reasons, including “to learn about arts education”, and “to make new connections”, each enjoyed their experience and walked away with a new skill or experience, one participating ambassadors said:
“It was interesting to learn how everyone developed as a creative to be where they are now. Learning more about Aspex has made me feel more confident to talk about the gallery with other people”
Since Surface Tension ended, three Ambassadors have become regular volunteers at Aspex, assisting with exhibition install, participation, and front of house. Whilst volunteering, they will continue to receive creative development and further opportunities, and Aspex Gallery are looking forward to continuing to support students from the Creative and Cultural Faculty in the future.
The project directly engaged with 1,650 people through workshops and events, as well as the 150,000 people who viewed the artworks at Victorious Festival in August 2017.
The project was kindly supported by the Centric Group, Gibson Whitter, Gunwharf Quays and the Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth.
You can re-live and experience the project by using the hashtag #SurfaceTensionUK on social media or by following @aspex_takepart on Twitter and Instagram.