Home Music artist ‘It’s manic!’ Turner winner Mark Leckey’s dream comes true as he opens art school in Cornwall | Art

‘It’s manic!’ Turner winner Mark Leckey’s dream comes true as he opens art school in Cornwall | Art

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IIt’s a beautiful summer Saturday in the former Cornish mining town of Redruth. White clouds glide picturesquely over Carn Brea, the hilltop landmark that overlooks the town, but Liam Jolly has no time to take in the view.

“It’s manic!” said the artist as he plunged into the darkness of auction house, its ramshackle little gallery just off the main street. Inside, it’s buzzing with activity. Amplifiers and mixers are stacked along the walls. Gallery owners in headphones shake their heads. Projections dance across the walls, showing distorted fractals, psychedelic Cornish landscapes and street signs that have taken on an animated life of their own. Ambient beeps and drones drift down the street, causing shoppers to stop. Perplexed, they look inside to determine the source of the noise.

“Not the sort of thing you usually see in Redruth on a Saturday,” laughs Jolly. “Most people are just shopping. But it’s so exciting for the city, especially for young artists showing their work for the first time. And all thanks to Mark. Without him, this would never have happened. »

The Mark is Mark Leckey, the Turner Prize-winning artist best known for his video work, from Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore in 1999 to O’ Magic Power of Bleakness, at Tate Britain 20 years later. Throughout June, Leckey worked with 10 young people taking part in his Music & Video Lab, a month-long program developed in partnership with Auction House and the West Cornwall Arts Organization. Castfunded by £15,000 from Arts Council England.

Gathering place… young people experiment at the Music & Video Lab. Photography: Perran Tremewan

It is the realization of a long-held ambition for Leckey: to create his own art school, a school that provides opportunities for young people excluded from traditional institutions due to an unaffordable cost of living and tuition fees. exorbitant. “If you’re not middle class,” he says, “art school is always seen as something beyond you. I came out of art school thinking that I was not intellectually equipped to be an artist. I felt like I lacked knowledge, intellectual reasoning – simply put. I’m not quite sure I’m done now. I always thought there had to be other ways to learn to be an artist than art school. That’s what it’s about.

After an open call, students were selected from locations around Cornwall, with an emphasis on “young people who wouldn’t normally even consider the idea of ​​an art school”. Throughout June they worked three days a week alongside Leckey, Jolly and producer Stuart Blackmore, experimenting with video software and editing tools to create work, with guest talks by artists such as twin gazelle, Lee Gamble and Pattern.

“We deliberately didn’t mention the art,” says Leckey. “We talked about it like a music and video lesson. The biggest obstacle to creativity is the feeling that it’s not for you. We were trying to circumvent the criticality and encourage them to be as free to do as they could be.

Inspiring… a teaching session.
Inspiring… a teaching session. Photography: Perran Tremewan

The fact that the project took place in Redruth has an additional significance. Once one of the wealthiest towns in Cornwall, thanks to the mining boom of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Redruth area is now one of the most deprived in the county, a world away from the sanitized vision of Cornwall perpetuated by fluffy TV shows and glossy real estate brochures.

“Visually and symbolically, this was the right place to do it,” says Teresa Gleadowe, Cast president and driving force behind the project. “The young people of Cornwall are quite isolated, but Redruth is a good gathering place. Part of it was just bringing them together in one space and letting artists like Mark and Liam take the lead. For me, the strength of the project is that Mark doesn’t look like a teacher: he’s just someone who talks about why he does work, what it’s for, how it makes you feel. It’s very inspiring.

The success of the lab has inspired the team to think about future projects, perhaps more workshops in London, Manchester or Liverpool. Leckey will also feature music from the Lab on his weekly radio show on NTS. “I was hoping for something amazing and new,” says Leckey. “It was the dream. And it’s absolutely fulfilled that. I would like to do it again.

For the students, it was a life-changing process. Among them is Kittie Smith, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Helston. After dropping out of a music degree at Brighton due to soaring costs and the demands of caring for three young children, she was able to reconnect with her songwriting and rediscover the confidence to perform.

“Working with Mark and Liam,” Smith says, “gave me the freedom to be who I am without being afraid of someone telling me I wasn’t good enough, which I constantly heard back home. music school. Everyone was supporting each other: we were just Cornish kids who wanted to do something creative. That’s what the education system lacks. Creativity can’t be categorized, everything is subjective No one can create what you create.

Work produced at Auction House will be exhibited at Cast, Helston, Cornwall on August 5-3 September.