The organisation is a curatorial project in a continuous state of development. Our current site, Lawson Park, is run as a productive small holding and working farm house, with a multifaceted programme of events, projects, residencies and community activity. Central to our ethos is the aim of implementing a more valuable function for art through a unique, cross-disciplinary education programme with a range of activities - all of which function to develop contemporary art in new directions; working beyond the Romantic and Individualist frameworks that have dominated thinking of the past 200 years of art history. Underpinning this programme therefore, is a philosophy that emphasises a use value for art; promoting the potential for art and artists to experiment and affect change 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 environment. Rather than focusing on creating a finished art product we concentrate on the process, and the dissemination of ideas to a wider audience. In doing so, we typically work alongside the local community of a project to develop and realise work with artists - 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’s process; as something that 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 approaches to issues couched in the geographical context. The use value of art is always encouraged, with resident artists, architects, designers, crafts people and critics often working directly with the location and its inhabitants - holding events and activities that engender a 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 working farm land, the site is productive, confrontational and understood through its many interconnected facets.
Grizedale Arts has become a model for a new kind of art institution, one that works beyond the established structures of the classic contemporary art model and aims to rework the perceived notion of culture set against a 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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