Sunday, 12 September 2010

Update on the First Week of the "Free Univ*** of Castleford"

This is a brief up date on the first week of the Free Univ****** of Castleford on Aire

The opening was a spectacular success. We think that +70 people attended and by the end of the evening 50 were committed to sending in original works of art for the 70 Reasons exhibition. We have now 20 framed or on the walls and 40 promised by the deadline 1 October. Lee and David painted for three days and created (and recorded) two very original canvases. The first print workshop was full (Wednesday)and two books of prints have already been begun.

Initiatives are taken up and because there is no very obvious major censorship structure works of great originality appear within a day. It took Rachel Knowles a about six hours to compile and print in colour on a variety of printers the book of artist's statements which was distributed at the First Exhibition launch. This proto book will be developed in the next six weeks by an extended team.

All through the week we have seen people coming forward with interesting ideas. A very beautiful hanging is being made by Janice and Ann Rounds and a group of local women. This will stretch the length of the gallery. This work is a wonderful example of the Univ****** being joined by an existing group of local people. The support we have received from John Cowan the picture framer and Amanda Williams from next door (Bookings and Publishing) has been more than helpful. Thanks also have to go to the Castleford Heritage team May R, Lorna Malkin, Alison Drake and the rest of the Heritage board.

In the window we have a Bust of Barbara Hepworth by the Castleford ceramicist John Hawkins and this is attracting a lot of attention. Several paintings have already been sold. Hopefully Harry Malkin's Castleford Lasses will be bought by the Council/ At £5000 it is a snip.

Bob Clayden is anxious to point out that the Bee Homes are not simple boxes but art works which will be buried on the other side of the river, The initial session where we experimented with several types of clay produced very interesting prototypes. Next Saturday more people have promised to attend but there are places.

Today (Saturday) we received an offer from a published Iranian poet to read his poems in praise of the earth. We expect to extend the creative writing programme in the next couple of weeks as the publishing information programme takes shape.

If our budget is £350 we are creating a quality exhibition for 100,000th of the cost of building the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Not bad. Our success is a product of our knowledge of local networks, our use of local people and our avoidance of committees.


Brian Lewis (Pontefract Press) and Amanda Williams (Bohemian Books- Sagar Street, Castleford ,01977 556741)

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