Grizedale Arts is a curatorial project in a continuous state of development, based in the historic site of Lawson Park farm above the Coniston valley in the lake district. The site is run as a productive small holding and working farm house, with an ongoing programme of events, projects, residencies and community activity which develop the contemporary arts in new directions, away from the romantic and Contemporary mindsets that have dominated the last 200 years of art history. Underpinning this programme is a philosophy that emphasises the use value of art, and promotes the functions of art and artists in practical and effective roles, as a central tenet of wider culture and society.
The Grizedale Arts programme actively engages with the complexities of the rural situation. Rather than aiming to create a finished art product we concentrate on process and the dissemination of ideas to a wider audience. In doing so we work alongside the local community to develop and realise the work with artists, and consequently the projects often challenge the artists as much as the local (participatory) audience. The activities are often fed into a major annual project or event that allows public access to the Grizedale process, introduces artists’ thinking into everyday life, situating active contemporary arts alongside the culture of the rural environment.
Lawson Park acts as a connecting nexus, working with the cultures of the area, such as agriculture and livestock farming, to develop dynamic and creative methods of approaching specific issues of the geographical context. The use value of art is encouraged, with resident artists, architects, designers, crafts people, critics and sociologists often working directly with the location and its inhabitants, holding events and activity which engenders collision between arts, community, political and economic thinking and practice. Everything at Lawson Park is seen as a project, with the ever augmented collections of design, library, and lands, the site is productive, confrontational and accessed through its many interconnected facets.
Grizedale has become a model for a new kind of art institution, one which works beyond the established structures of the art world and aims to rework the idea of culture against the backdrop of emerging issues. From its unique site the organisation positions itself as a national centre for the development of the arts, working with its local context to address global cultural change.
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