Planning the first exhibition workshops

I’m organising some workshops for young people to run alongside the the spring exhibition at Fabrica, which is On Balance by Jacob Dahlgren.

I’ve led lots of workshops myself, but I have less experience of commissioning them from other artists, so my approach is to think what I would wish to know and what support I would need, and to try and provide this.

When I started thinking about these workshops I needed to identify an artist to lead them, and one person’s name came to mind – Jane Henderson, an artist I have exhibited with in the past and also worked alongside on education projects at the Towner in Eastbourne.
There is something about her approach to materials and the performative aspect of her work that links well with Jacob Dahlgren, I think. Her work looks nothing like his, but then I’m not looking for an artist to mimic his work. I want an artist who will do something meaningful in relation to it.

Luckily she was up for getting involved and we met in January to discuss the workshops. Straight away she asked some really direct questions that I hadn’t actually thought much about, like what is the aim of the workshops. Yes, good question! Well, I think one aim is to do something that is not possible in school, that will not be marked and does not have to fit a curriculum requirement. Also for the young people participating to make something that they feel is really their work. And to learn a bit about Jacob Dahlgren’s work and have fun. To exploit the environment of Fabrica – we have a particular context to offer young people, a contemporary art space (whatever that may encompass), specific skills, knowledge and values, and artists to work with and in relation to.

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