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Post Date

17 August 2012


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We are delighted to announce that Artichoke co-Director Helen Marriage has been awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The prestigeous Loeb Fellowship is awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Helen's appointment is an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged.

Founded in 1970 with a gift from John L. Loeb, the Loeb Fellowship was set up to encourage reinvigorated thinking about how our cities and natural environment are designed and planned. The only requirement for Fellows at the end of the award is that they return to their positions and make a real impact on the way that a city or culture is thinking about itself and its purpose.

Starting in September Helen will use the opportunity offered by the Fellowship to explore public perceptions of risk, and the processes of negotiating with several different agencies to deliver complex productions in the public realm.

Helen Marriage, Artichoke co-Director said:
“We have allowed ourselves to become frightened of what is possible by the over-regulation of public space. I want to look at ways in which we can take away people’s anxieties, and show them that temporarily closing a road or digging it up in the pursuit of art is okay. It’s about challenging the consensus that our public spaces are places just for shopping or traffic. I am extremely honoured to have received this award. It is a recognition of the work Artichoke already does, and I want to take some time to explore the intellectual framework around our work and ideas in more depth”.

Helen is now busy programming Artichoke’s 2013 projects before she leaves for her sabbatical.

Nicky Webb, Artichoke co-Director said:
“We are so thrilled about Helen’s Fellowship. It is a tremendous accolade for all that Artichoke has achieved since 2005. It has been an extraordinary time, during which we have grown from a three-person team to an organisation employing 12 full-time people.  With two forthcoming projects in 2013, one following hard on the heels of the other, everyone will be kept busy and we’ll try not to bother Helen too much whilst she’s away! Every project we take on challenges us in new directions and we are looking forward to the insight and ideas for the future that Helen will bring back with her”.

We wish Helen all the very best and look forward to her return next Spring. We'll send you updates of how she is getting on over the pond so stay tuned for news of Helen's adventures.

Post Date

13 September 2010


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Join us in pledging your support for the arts

Visit www.ivaluethearts.org.uk to pledge your support for the arts in the UK as a valued public service.

A new campaign, I Value the Arts, has been launched today urging the public to voice their support for the arts. Anyone who values the arts in their community is being asked to register their details on a new website: www.ivaluethearts.org.uk.

All those who register will be kept in touch with plans that could affect arts provision nationally and in their local neighbourhood, with practical suggestions on what they can do to strengthen the arts in their area.

I Value the Arts is led by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA), the independent umbrella body for all the arts in the UK. Industry bodies are lining up to support the promotion of the campaign and the campaign website and associated technology has been made possible thanks to generous donations of skills, time and resources by industry suppliers. No public money is being used to fund the campaign.

Louise de Winter, Director of the NCA commented: “Three quarters of the adult population attend or participate in arts activities every year and an even higher proportion of young people. At a time of recession, more and more people are turning to the arts and culture. Reduced opportunities to take part in the arts could have a major impact on the quality of people’s lives and the vibrancy of their communities. As the Government is encouraging us all to get engaged and create a ‘Big Society’, we believe it is important for those people who care about the arts to get involved in the decision- making about what their communities will look like. This campaign gives everyone who cares a chance to have their voice heard and collectively show that the arts provide a valued public service.

Visit the www.ivaluethearts.org.uk website to register your email address and postcode, and be kept up to date with information about plans for your local area.

Organisations like Artichoke couldn’t exist if it weren't for funding received from our Government. As well as visiting the I Value The Arts website, please sign a petition to show your support for publically funded arts. The petition is not a way of the arts being exempt from cuts, but it is about asking that the sector is treated fairly in the coming spending review in October and to avoid ‘front-loading’ cuts.

The sector is bracing itself for 25% - 50% reduction in government funding. This would see an enormous shift in the cultural landscape, which is inevitable under the economy we have at the moment, but will cost jobs, livelihoods, and access to arts and culture in many areas of the UK – particularly at a local level. Those who can least afford it will feel the knock-on effects.

With 100,000 signatures on the petition, the Government has agreed to debate the value of the arts as a public service. Please take two minutes to advocate the importance of arts in the UK by signing the petition and forwading the information to anyone you think might be interested.

Post Date

09 September 2010


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One & Other might get an award!

We were delighted to learn that Antony Gormley's One & Other, which Artichoke produced last year, has been nominated for a Visit London award.

We're delighted the project has made the shortlist. Gormley's epic commission for Trafalgar Square's 'empty' fourth plinth involved 2,400 people from all over Britain and was witnessed by millions of people all over the world.

See the Evening Standard's article here for a full list of all award nominees.

The legacy of One & Other lives on. We say, "hurrah"!

Post Date

17 August 2010


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Flash, bang, wallop! What a picture!

At Artichoke, we’re very fortunate to be able to work with the most talented professionals within the walls of our office as well as without. Matthew Andrews is one of the inspired photographers that we have worked with over the last 5 years. We love his skill for communication and documenting the work we produce. Along with some other very gifted photographers, Matthew has helped us capture the incredible artistry and magic that comes out of all our events.

Read on for the story of how Matthew began working with Artichoke and how he does what he does so brilliantly.

“I first met Helen when I photographed her after a Brighton Festival literary event. I think she had on DM's and her hair was wild as ever! It was at Brighton Festival that I first met Nicky, too. I wanted to move away from studio photography and my agent fixed up a meeting with the Festival. Nicky ran the marketing department and I shot my first assignment for her about ten years ago. I'd photographed some theatre before but nothing like the kind of site specific work that the Festival were showing. I fell in love with it. I learned how to become invisible and blend in with audiences and performers shooting during shows rather than setting things up, which I can't stand.

After Artichoke was formed Nicky asked if I'd like to shoot The Sultan’s Elephant. I bit her arm off! I began at Royal de Luxe’s base at Battersea Power Station, shooting rehearsals and the crew. A day or so before the show, the company ran a converted Routemaster bus through London with the ‘little’ girl aboard. I photographed that from the back of a very quick motorbike and seem to remember doing double the speed limit around Parliament Square. Totally exhilarating! The morning the rocket crashed I was there in the early hours photographing passers by. A woman in a long summer frock was totally entranced wandering in and out of drifting smoke. I remember turning away after photographing her to see a group of sheepish press photographers who'd been shooting over my shoulder - they'd all thought she was a model working for me!

I guess it was for La Machine when we really began to explore the idea of shooting back-stories to the projects. I was with Artichoke and Unusual, the company who rigged the show, for ten days during La Machine. I'm impatient and usually start shooting as soon as I'm off the train. Rehearsals and engineering work went on at a redundant shipyard on Merseyside and the transfer of the spider to Liverpool was wild; hundreds of vehicles, everything from cherry pickers, rusty bicycles, articulated lorries and a low loaded lorry carrying La Princesse, her legs pulled protectively around her. They drove in convoy through the Mersey Tunnel in the dead of night like survivors of the apocalypse. I ran the length of the tunnel and into the City to capture everything. There's always the temptation to cadge a lift in a situation like that but there aren't any short cuts to good pictures. After a few hours sleep, I was out again shooting commuters and passers by mesmerised by a giant mechanical spider now curled asleep on the side of the concourse tower. The show had begun! The crowds in Liverpool were awesome and I got some pictures I was very pleased with. It is probably my best reportage project yet, undoubtedly helped by having the time to build rapport with the company before the show itself began.

After that, I shot Antony Gormley’s One & Other and more recently shot Lumiére in Durham and The Magical Menagerie in Milton Keynes. To my mind, the key to Artichoke's success is quality: the shows, marketing, stewarding etc. Everything is always top notch and consequently every aspect of an Artichoke project is visually very rich. Speed is always the key and I tend to make two edits. The second edit is an opportunity to look over the pictures more carefully and put together sets of pictures and create little narratives. I also spend a lot of time on post-production on that second phase to make the final pictures look ‘just so’.

If I can make a set of honest pictures that I feel have integrity as well as enough emotive power that the viewer gets a sense of what it was like to be there, I think I've succeeded. If the pictures are really working they might even convert would be audience members into actual ones!

You can see my own cut of some Artichoke projects on my website matthewandrews.co.uk. “

Image: Matthew Andrews ©

Post Date

07 July 2010


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Welcome to Artichoke’s new blog! If you’ve found your way here you may already know what we do, but for those of you who don’t: we work with artists to produce rather extra-ordinary events across the UK. We are a small team working in a bustling office, and this blog is our way of inviting you behind the scenes.

This is where will talk about our past events, or about what we’re up to next. We might post photos, facts, interviews or any manner of things in between. We’ll even include some guest posts from AVIPS (Artichoke’s Very Important People): our directors, the artists we work with, and the wonderful people on the ground who make the projects happen.

If you would like to find out about something in particular, just let us know: we’ll always try to oblige. This is also the place to come if you want to tell us what you thought about our events, or to discuss them with like-minded people. Let your comments run free, like a herd of giant mechanical elephants…

So, let's kick off the discussion - have you seen one of Artichoke's projects, and what did you think of it?