Artist Brief – The Workhouse
Background and Context
The Workhouse is an imposing utilitarian 19th century building on the edge of Southwell. Based on architectural plans for an 18thcentury prison, its aim was to intimidate, encouraging people to see it as a place of last resort when they were not able to work or support themselves. The system was punitive and a deterrent to what was seen as idle and profligate behaviour. It is thought that without these first harsh steps to support the poor and vulnerable, the welfare state and NHS might not have been established.
Janet Overfield Shaw, Project Lead, refers to the philosopher Foucault’s ‘Machines of oppression’ to illustrate how the architecture of the 19th century Workhouse with its physical segregation and categorisation of need, encouraged the dehumanising of individuals. At the Workhouse we examine care and social support from the nineteenth to the late twentieth century through the Workhouse archive, where we have access to research and testimonies through oral histories, letters, records of the staff and residents of the institution and wider society. We welcome 50,000 visitors per annum and we want to build this and our virtual audiences.
We are looking for an artist based in the UK with:
• Experience of delivering large scale site-specific commissions.
• An interest in working with people of diverse backgrounds and with an empathy for the groups outlined above.
• Previous experience of successfully developing and delivering project through participation or co-creation.
• Create a new collaborative, site responsive work which is experimental and playful and evokes empathy. The final commission will have a significant presence and legacy at the Workhouse from Spring 2020.
• Work co-creatively with our partner groups (adults and young people), volunteers and staff, involving them in the process and creation of the work.
• Present work in progress (in particular the co-created work) to our visitors in an engaging way in the new spaces.
• Develop a final concept which will reflect express the artist’s responses to the history of the site, the buildings and the contemporary voices of our partners.
• Provide an opportunity for people with learning difficulties and autistic people to express and connect with their history
• Create a framework around the themes of institutionalisation & care across time, encouraging our partners and visitors to participate in this wider conversation.
Budget & timeline
The total budget for the artist’s costs of commission is £40,000 (inc. VAT), which we suggest is allocated as above. This includes artists fees, expenses, travel and commission costs: equipment, materials, installation. It includes time for workshops, public events, input into marketing and project meetings. There are additional funds for curatorial support and interpretation, documentation, project delivery, groups support costs, marketing and production/site costs. We are open to the artist inviting artists and other specialists into the project to support the engagement or delivery of the work, providing any fees come from the artists budget. There is some flexibility within the timeframe, but we would like the commission to open in Spring/Summer 2020.
Please click here for the full artist brief: Artist Brief