Associates Programme

Open School East is an innovative model of a free artist development programme that interacts socially with its surroundings and with members of the public. We continually reinvent our approach, exploring new modes of engagement, forms of inhabitation and pedagogical formats.

We provide a unique environment for artist-led learning through:

  • Shared studio provision, accessible 24/7
  • Weekly tuition and mentorship from internationally renowned practitioners, theorists and curators
  • Critical, pastoral and practical support
  • Seed-funding to develop, research or initiate a project

The associates programme is run according to principles of collaboration, experimentation and openness, and welcomes practitioners who engage with these notions in different ways.

Open School East is a multi-use space and resource: as such its common areas are utilised by a range of individuals and groups on different days of the week. Working, learning and sharing experiences and space with others is key to OSE’s ethos.

Applications for 2018 will open on Monday 4 September 2017.

How does the Associates Programme function?

Free to attend and non-accredited, the associates programme runs across twelve months – from January to December – and is principally self-directed, creating platforms for the associate artists to develop their practice.

The associates come together two days a week (Thursdays and Fridays) to receive tuition, meet their mentors, work and collaborate on projects, and develop their own curriculum (in Term 2 and 3). Tuition is delivered through a combination of tutorials, group crits, presentations, workshops, seminars and excursions, a number of which are open to the public. Some of these activities may fall on other days, in the evenings or over the weekend. In addition to the two days of tuition and studio time, the associates are encouraged to engage with OSE’s varied programmes and public projects as an opportunity to develop additional skills and collaborative opportunities.

While at Open School East, the associates develop a specific project or line of enquiry. Their research is advanced and shared with the public via open studios taking place at different times throughout the year. In December, a few days of public activities and presentations are organised to mark the end of the year and showcase what the associates have worked on during their time at OSE.

Visit the Associates Projects page to find out about their projects while at OSE.



The associates programme is structured around three terms: the first one is programmed by a guest artist, working together with the OSE team, while the second and third terms are conceived and administered by the associates. In 2016, OSE invited artist Olivia Plender and filmmaker and researcher Ed Webb-Ingall to put together a curriculum revolving around models of collaboration, authorship, the politics of the voice, feminisms, and how artists approach history.

In 2017, we have invited artist Matthew Darbyshire to devise the curriculum for Term 1. An attempt to diffuse the customary specialisms of process, performance, conceptual, installation, critical, community and public art, Matthew Darbyshire’s 2017 first term programme, Le Chant du Rossignol, comprises a series of 12 practical weekly workshops run by those deemed most exciting and innovative within their various fields of writing, community-based art, contextual art, public art, film, painting, sculpture, sound, costume and choreography.

Using Hans Christian Andersons 1844 fairytale, The Nightingale, as its point of departure, it is hoped that the outcome of these themed workshops will in turn gradually accumulate into a collectively conceived “total artwork” that forgets distinctions and introduces the associates to a broader, more social and contextual way of working that they can take forward into both their solitary and collective activities.

Through its tongue in cheek appropriation of a theatre production’s constituents, Darbyshire’s proposed curriculum aims to untangle and decipher the complex physical and political relationships underlying each of the associates’ interests and attitudes, paying particular attention to experimentation, location, identity, environment, economy, technology and materiality. Guests include: Melissa Appleton, Yemi Awosile, Lucy Beech, Pablo Bronstein, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Nicolas Deshayes, Chris Jones, Milo van der Maaden, Sophie Mallet, Tom Morton, Eddie Peake, Trish Scott, and Jessica Warboys.

In term 2 and 3, the associates self-direct their learning around their practice and shared interests. Working in groups organised around themes or types of practices, the associates construct a series of public sessions that help advance their practice and engage with both formal and informal pedagogical methods. These have ranged from writing workshops geared towards film, performance and radio; artist, theorist and other specialist-led tours in unconventional locations identified by the associates; reading groups, crits, lecture series and short courses; and art-making workshops around a range of media.

Since the opening of OSE in 2013, guest tutors, lecturers, workshop leaders and mentors have included: John Akomfrah, AND Publishing, Barby Asante, Oreet Ashery, Ed Atkins, Ed Baxter, Eric Baudelaire, Kathrin Böhm, Sonia Boyce, Polly Brannan, Adam Broomberg, Pablo Bronstein and Ellis Woodman, James Bridle, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Celine Condorelli, Neil Cummings, Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr (Echo Park Film Center), Jeremy Deller, Guillaume Désanges, T.J. Demos, Nicolas Deshayes, Tim Etchells, Mark Fisher, Julie Freeman, Carry Gorney, Rose Hall, Paul Goodwin, Leah Gordon, Melissa Gronlund, Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, Owen Hatherley, Franck Leibovici, Myriam Lefkowitz, Marysia Lewandowska, Maria Lind, Sean Lynch, Hamish Macphearson, Francesco Manacorda, Simon Martin, Anna Minton, Phil Minton, Fred Moten, Sofia Niazi, Rose Nordin and Heiba Lamara (OOMK), Ahmet Ögüt, Holly Pester, Ciara Phillips, Michael Rakowitz, Frances Rifkin, Jerszy Seymour, Daniel Sinsel, John Smith, Simon Starling, Maki Suzuki and Philippe Ciompi, Sally Tallant, Mabel Tapia, Jack Tan, Fatos Üstek, Ultra Red, Richard Wentworth, Catherine Wood and Martin Hargreaves, Ken Worpole, Rehanna Zaman, and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.

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The mentors

Each year, we invite six mentors to provide one-to-one support in the development of the associates’ practice and projects, as well as to lead theoretical and practical group sessions. The mentors come at regular intervals, between once and twice a term.

The mentors for 2017 are: Matthew Darbyshire, Paul Maheke, Sophie Mallett, Tom Morton, Sally O’Reilly, Trish Scott and Maki Suzuki.

Previous mentors include: John Douglas Millar, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar (The Otolith Group), Janna Graham, Olivia Plender, Marijke Steedman, Ed Webb-Ingall.

The associates

Associates at Open School East are early-career practitioners with or without a BA, MA or formal artistic qualification, who are seeking a critical and informal environment in which to develop their practice.

Former associates continue to work collaboratively and programme events and projects at OSE, engaging in dialogue with the current associates and forming a growing alumni community.

Visit the People page to find out more about the associates.

Application, selection and requirements

Open School East associates are selected following a yearly open call advertised locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The call leads to shortlisting and interviews, where prospective applicants are selected on the following criteria: artistic quality; a recognised need to access free and non-conventional education; the ability to work collaboratively, be self-directed and to enter into a meaningful dialogue with local audiences and publics from further afield.

We aim to constitute a group of artists from a diverse range of backgrounds and practices. We take applications from individuals only.

By joining OSE, the associates commit to take an active role in making Open School East a site for social, cultural and intellectual exchanges, with particular relevance to our neighbourhood. In lieu of paying fees, each associate gives the equivalent of one day every month to devise, run or assist with public events and activities.



In March 2014, we undertook a three-day workshop at Performing Arts Forum (PAF), St Erme, France, in the context of the project ‘Composing Differences‘ curated by Virginie Bobin. We invited practitioners Esther Salmona and Guillaume Fayard to lead the workshop and the retreat was made possible through funding by Fluxus.

In July 2014, July 2015 and September 2016, we were invited by Teresa Gleadowe for a residency at CAST in Helston, Cornwall. The week-long programme of discussions and workshops allowed the associates time to reflect on their projects at OSE, and develop new events and works in an entirely different context, together with practitioners, thinkers and many residents of Cornwall. In exchange, OSE was happy to welcome CAST to the Rose Lipman building here in London, for a week in October 2014. The week was centred around another talks and events programme, including a talk by artist Paul Chaney on his ‘lizard exit plan’.

You can view images of the associates at CAST in 2014 here, and read associate Jonathan Hoskins’s reflections on the first residency here.

In June 2016, we were hosted by the Merz Barn in the Lake District. During the week-long artist retreat, the associates explored the local area and possible future collaboration with Merz Barn, leading a reading group and excursions to places including the neolithic axe factory and the cathedral cave pictured below.



In 2014, the Year 1 associates worked with AND publishing to develop a reader that reflected on their time at Open School East and the models of learning experienced there. This project which included several sessions on collaborative editing and publishing was supported by ArtQuest and Hato Press.

The publication was released in August 2014.

A PDF of the final publication is available here.