RWA - Cube Space: New Wave

Fri, 23/02/2018 - Thu, 01/03/2018

New Wave is a touring exhibition initiated by Toni Davey RWA, supported by Contains Art and Somer- set Art Works to explore the value of arts education for our economy, society, and humanity.

Each of the artworks in this exhibition at The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, are the product of a creative professional, each a former student of Toni Davey at West Somerset Community College in Minehead, responding to Hokusai’s iconic woodcut, ‘The Great Wave of Kanagawa’, a piece that has held a personal fascination for Toni over several decades.

New Wave shows the thirst and talent for creativity with which just a few of the young people from that school emerged and headed out into the world. But the project’s impact is much more than this. It speaks to the value of art for young people at a time when it is being stripped from the school curricu- lum. In so doing it provides a vital but uncomfortable comment on the impact of arts education—demon- strating rather than bemoaning what will be lost if the current side-lining of creative subjects from our schools is not arrested.

The exhibition was motivated by a desire to reveal the consequences of recent changes to the school curriculum with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), and the implications of this change for the creative subjects. By highlighting the journeys of West Somerset alumni, we draw attention to the lifeline that an art education ofered these students; a lifeline that we believe has been unwittingly jeopardised. The exhibition includes the work of 30 young people—it could have been many more—who are successfully negotiating a path for themselves at various stages in their careers.

This exhibition was first held in September 2017 at Contains Art in Watchet and was supported by Somerset Art Works.

Contains Art CIC was established as a social enterprise in 2012 in an isolated, rural, deprived part of Somerset. West Somerset has the lowest social mobility in the whole of England, and Watchet, where we are based, is the most deprived ward in the district. We firmly believe art has a vital role in changing that.

Contains Art was founded in this context, on the firm belief that who you are, what you have, and where you live, should not restrict your opportunities to see, take part in, and create some of the best art in the world. This matters because art is a powerful force of change—it fires imaginations, challenges perceptions, creates connections, builds communities and makes people, especially young people, believe that they can do anything. The establishment of Contains Art by the local community responded to an almost complete lack of opportunities for community, families, and young people to access and engage with high quality art in what is a notable cold-spot in terms of cultural offer—con- strained by distance and cost. Our ambition is to fill this gap with maximum impact.

Contains Art has a dual role—to meet the needs of our community and to pursue artistic ambition. To do this we deliver a diverse and exciting programme of exhibitions and events that bring extraordi- nary practice to this small isolated part of the country. Our programming reflects a core focus on work that is accessible but still amazing.

On top of our exhibition programme, we run regular community events and workshops that are free to attend, and many community projects. Our studios do not have regular opening hours, but studio holders welcome vistors to come in and take an interest in their work.

Contains Art is now the lead cultural tenant in a wider and very significant community-led regenera- tion project in Watchet. In 2019, assuming everything goes to plan, our gallery will be scaled-up and expanded, in size and ambition, bringing the highest-quality artwork to a local audience who would otherwise never get such a chance.

This a touring exhibition facilitated by Contains Art. For further information about this touring show, please contact Jon Barrett at Contains Art.

Royal West of England Academy

Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1PX

Gallery hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10am–5.30pm Sunday 11am–5pm

Image ©Sarah Ward 2017


@ContainsArt @royalwestofenglandacademy

Twitter @Contains_Art @RWABristol

Instagram @containsart1


Event location: 
Royal West of England Academy
Queens Road
Bristol BS8 1PX
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