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Future Collect Conference: Handle with Care 

25 Nov 2021

A hybrid live and digital event at Manchester Art Gallery

  • Venue

    Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL

  • Time

    10:30 – 17:00

  • Admission

    Free, booking required

Handle with Care will reflect on the groundbreaking partnership commission undertaken by iniva and Manchester Art Gallery as part of iniva’s legacy project Future Collect 

Future Collect is a dynamic programme of contemporary art commissions designed to transform the national conversation around contemporary art collecting.  

Taking inspiration and guidance from inaugural Future Collect artist Jade Montserrat, the Handle with Care conference will be an interdisciplinary ‘fairground of ideas’ exploring manifestations of care in artistic, curatorial and collecting practices.  

The conference will revisit the urgent call made by Professor Stuart Hall, founding chair of iniva, in his keynote speech at the national conference, Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain’s Living Heritage, held in Manchester in November 1999. Professor Hall called for a re-imagined Britain, reinvented for all who refuse to become othered in order to belong. Handle with Care will suggest that this call to action remains as relevant and urgent when thinking about our national collections within visual arts museums and galleries today. 

Handle with Care will reimagine what a conference offers us as a site for collaboration, connection and dialogue. Through a series of themed round table discussions inspired by Lois Weaver’s ‘Long Table’ performance, we hope to create a space where all those attending the conference can take a seat at the table and be a part of the conversation.  

The conference will include three roundtable discussions based around the following questions and themes:  

  • Creative Critique as Care: How can artists embed institutional critique in creative practice? 
    A conversation initiated by Jade Montserrat (artist), Jack Ky Tan (artist) & Paul Hughes (artist).
  • Tenderness and Decolonial Repair: How can we embed care in our work with archives and collections? How can artists help collections heal? 
    A conversation initiated by Tobias Barnett (researcher) & Holly Graham (artist).
  •  Care is a Collective Responsibility: Talking through access to cultural spaces, care for carers, and civic responsibility. 
    A conversation initiated by The Women’s Art Activation System (WAAS, artist collective), Agency of Visible Women (artist collective) & others.

The day will also include a performance by Paul Hughes and a workshop. We look forward to welcoming you to the conversation!

Contributor Biographies

We are the Agency of Visible Women. We are an intersectional group of people who coalesce strategically to encourage care, support and opportunity for women (and other marginalised gender) artists. We operate in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, and more broadly with other communities of women. We embody varied experience across the arts and believe in ring fencing our energies, care, rest and championing one another. We fund raise to deliver projects necessary for our community that are necessary, engaging, high quality and free to attend.

Holly Graham is a London-based artist, working predominantly with print and audio. Much of her work looks at ways in which memory and narrative shape collective histories. Holly holds a BFA from Oxford University and an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art. Recent solo projects include commissions with TACO!, London (2021); Robert Young Antiques, London (2021); Gaada, Shetland (2020); Goldsmiths CCA, Online (2020); and Southwark Park Galleries, London (2020). Holly is a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London; is Co-Director and Programme & Artist Development Lead at Turf Projects, Croydon; and is Co-Founder of Cypher BILLBOARD, London. hollygraham.co.uk  

Enni-Kukka Tuomala is a Finnish Empathy Artist and Designer based in London. Her vision is to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective and radical power for positive social change through public interventions, installations, environments, processes and tools. Enni-Kukka’s collaborative and research-based practice investigates the delicate relationships between empathy, culture, space and systems. She has a joint MA and MSc in Global Innovation Design from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, as well as an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from the University of Oxford. Enni-Kukka recently opened the world’s first Empathy HQ: an art studio and creative community space dedicated to empathy in Bow, London, and represented Finland at the London Design Biennale 2021 with her installation the Empathy Echo Chamber, inviting over 1,000 visitors to share an intimate moment with a stranger. Other recent exhibitions include: Care (2021, online) at The Design Museum, London; Empathy Objects (2021) at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; and Is There Space for Empathy? (2021) at the Nunnery Gallery, London. www.ennikukka.com | Instagram: @akin.kollektiv | Twitter: @ennikukka

Jack Ky Tan uses law, policy, social norms and customs as a medium of making art. He creates performances, sculpture and participatory projects that highlight the rules that guide human behaviour. In Jack’s social practice, he blurs the boundaries between art, governance and consultancy in order to help organisations reform and revision themselves using artistic thinking. jackkytan.github.io 

Jade Montserrat’s research-led practice excavates shared histories, alongside delving into her personal narrative. Jade interrogates multiple mediums with the aim to expose gaps in our visual and linguistic habits. She was the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship, supporting her PhD (via MPhil) at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at the University of Central Lancaster, (Race and Representation in Northern Britain in the context of the Black Atlantic: A Creative Practice Project) and the development of her work from her Black diasporic perspective in the North of England. In 2020, iniva and Manchester Art Gallery commissioned Jade as the first artist for the project Future Collectjademontserrat.com 

Paul Hughes is an artist and dramaturg living in Nottingham, mostly working in collaboration with Rohanne Udall as Chatting Tanum. Paul’s PhD research at the University of Roehampton and Sadler’s Wells Theatre explores artist-institutional relations, with a particular focus on temporary curatorial or governance roles. Their current fascinations include: cruising, demons, ghosts, intimacy, moral rhetorics, note-taking, and wounds. 

The Women’s Art Activation System (WAAS) is an artist collective that aims to activate women’s art. Principal artists Sharon Bennett and Sarah Dixon collaborate to make live art, performance and socially engaged works. The WAAS makes artworks that question established structures that inhibit and marginalise people, particularly female-identified people and those experiencing pregnancy, childbirth and mothering.  Working with humour to address serious issues The WAAS makes rituals and processes that enquire into, and shift, widely-established social power dynamics. Sharon and Sarah are representatives for Pregnancy and Mothering on the Disconnected Bodies Arts Advisory Board and are currently working with Axisweb, Social Art Network and Manchester Metropolitan University on a commission called Social Art for Equity Diversity and Inclusion (SAFEDI) funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council. thewaas.org  

Tobias Barnett is a writer and researcher based in Cambridge, UK. Working at the intersection of Francophone visual cultures, politics, and contemporary philosophy and critical theory, Tobias is particularly interested in the role played by images and material cultures in the mediation of colonial and postcolonial dynamics.

Image credits: Collected, collective, communal, cultural object through ritual, Jade Montserrat, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist. The Long Table on Live Art and Feminism with Lois Weaver, 2013. Live Art Development Agency, Restock, Rethink, Reflect Three: on Live Art and Feminism. Image: Alex Eisenberg.

Future Collect is generously supported by Art Fund, Arts Council England and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.