Chiara Tammaro, Tom Dijkstra and Sijas de Groot stayed with us over the past two weeks at Convention House, and in their time discovered Leeds, studios in the city, and local communities.
Chiara Tammaro (originally from Leeds) and Tom Dijkstra are part of Moshpit of Creation, an artist collective based in Groningen, and were investigating the similarities and differences between artist studios in the UK and in the Netherlands.
Through creating 3D scans and sound recordings of the studios in Leeds that they visited, they are creating a system for mapping what artist spaces look like, and what resources (in terms of space, support and facilities) artists in different places and regions have access to. During their time, they visited Open Source Arts, Aire Place Studios, Fabrication2, Invisible Flock, Keighley Creative, CLAY, and, of course, spent their stay with us at Convention House, meeting various studio holders from East Street Arts.
This research was especially focused on the sustainability of studios, especially artist-led, and how property types, business plans, and health and safety regulations would change the feasibility of the studios and what the artists in them were able to do. In the Netherlands, as well as some other countries in Europe, city councils have standing policies for studios for artists, in order to create a minimum provision within the area for those creating studio spaces. Groningen doesn’t currently have one of these policies, but Chiara and Tom point out that there is a movement from some towards creating one, to further support the sustainability of the arts within the city.
Sijas de Groot, also from Groningen, was joined by collaborator and writer Eise Ivo Smit partway through his residency. His work focuses heavily on communities and the space they inhabit. Originally Sijas was part of a group visiting as part of LEEDS 2023 earlier this year, and his return has focused on the communities closest to Patrick Studios. Through his time in Leeds, he has worked with Mafwa Theatre to examine gentrification in the area, and how the area is affected by the changes it is surrounded by. Much of this work touches on themes around inclusivity, immigration, segregation and the inequality of opportunity.
Through long days walking through the area as well as engaging with community members and stakeholders through Mafwa Theatre, Sijas developed an in-depth understanding of the area. Throughout, it is his constantly enigmatic personality and ability to talk to anyone which allowed him to get a tour of ex-Burton’s Factory in Burmantofts from Nick, a supervisor there, and gives him a direct route into exploring the community and how their neighbourhood is changing. Through his work, there is a recognition that the ways in which many of these places change parallel changes in Groningen and other places where he has conducted similar work i.e. people pushed out in favour of capital.
Though all four artists are in Groningen, Chiara and Tom hadn’t met Sijas and Eise Ivo Smit until they were in residency in Leeds. Despite working in different fields and manners, there are some interesting and inspiring parallels in their thinking around space, policy and what the arts can deliver where other sectors might not. We’re excited to see where these relationships might develop through further conversations in Groningen, as well as the possibility of Leeds-based artists being able to travel there to further develop the exchange of ideas. One of the predominant themes to come from these conversations was how artists can create communities to be resilient – like the possibilities of ‘cooperative’ childcare amongst artists and communities.
The overall ambition for the residencies is to develop lasting connections between LEEDS 2023, the Netherlands Embassy and East Street Arts, in order to create future learning and residency opportunities.