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 are now closed. The next call out will be in September 2018.
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 plan activities. Tuition is delivered through a combination of workshops, seminars, group crits and excursions, a number of which are open to the public. Some of these activities may fall on other days, as well as in the evenings or over the weekend. In addition to the two days of tuition, the associates are encouraged to participate in public projects led by guest artists to develop further skills. While at OSE, the associates share their practice via open studios at different times in the year, and develop new work to be presented at a final group exhibition and events series. Additionally, opportunities to respond to invitations from external organisations are offered to the associates throughout the year.
Term 1: Artist-led curriculum
The associates programme is structured around three terms. Term 1 is about immersion and the realisation of a project through collective learning. For this, we invite an artist to conceive the curriculum. In contrast, Term 2 and 3 are shaped by the associates who self-direct their learning around their practice and shared interests, and formulate a programme of public workshops and events.
In 2018, the curriculum for Term 1 was led by Marguerite Humeau. The artist devised ‘Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum‘, a 3 month-long collective project on the quest for eternal life. The project took as its starting point the hedonistic mausoleum that China’s first Emperor Qin (259-210 BC) commissioned for his afterlife. Marguerite Humeau and her guests Maki Suzuki, Owen Watson, Lucia Stuart, Sophie Mallett and Dr. Philip Gore – who work in the fields of art, design, architecture, botany and embalming – led a series of skills-based workshops, talks and excursions open to the Associates and members of the public. Those informed the collective making of a public project, which took the form of a 45-min scripted walk in Botany Bay, during which one encountered sounds, spoken words, sculptures, short performances and objects of uncertain nature.
In 2017, we invited artist Matthew Darbyshire to conceive a curriculum attempting to diffuse the customary specialisms of process, performance, conceptual, installation, critical, community and public art. A series of weekly workshops, whose outcome gradually accumulated into a collectively conceived “total artwork”, were run by practitioners from the fields of writing, community-based art, contextual art, public art, film, painting, sculpture, sound, costume and choreography including: 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. Through its tongue in cheek appropriation of a theatre production’s constituents, Darbyshire’s curriculum paid particular attention to experimentation, location, identity, environment, economy, technology and materiality.
In 2016, we asked 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. Practitioners from the fields of theatre, film, visual art, sound, community organising, activism and radical pedagogy were invited to deliver workshops and seminars alongside with Olivia Plender and Ed Webb-Ingall. Those were: Barby Asante, Oreet Ashery, Sonia Boyce, Carry Gorney, Janna Graham, Ciara Phillips, Frances Rifkin, Ultra Red and Rehanna Zaman.
Term 2 & 3: Self-directed public learning
Working in groups organised around themes or types of practices, the associates construct and oversee the organisation of a series of public sessions that help advance their practice. Engaging with both formal and informal pedagogical methods, these sessions have ranged from writing workshops geared towards film, performance and radio; artist, theorist and other specialist-led tours in unconventional locations; reading groups, crits, lecture series and short courses; and art-making workshops in a range of media.
Since the opening of OSE in 2013, guest tutors, lecturers, workshop leaders and mentors have included: John Akomfrah, AND Publishing, Ed Atkins, Ed Baxter, Eric Baudelaire, Kathrin Böhm, Polly Brannan, Adam Broomberg, Pablo Bronstein and Ellis Woodman, James Bridle, Sam Causer, 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, Benedict Drew, Tim Etchells, Mark Fisher, Julie Freeman, Rose Hall, Marguerite Humeau, Paul Goodwin, Leah Gordon, Melissa Gronlund, Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, Owen Hatherley, Chris Jones, Andrew Kerton, Clair Le Couteur, Hannah Lees, Franck Leibovici, Lawrence Lek, Myriam Lefkowitz, Marysia Lewandowska, Maria Lind, Sean Lynch, Sarah McCrory, Hamish Macphearson, Francesco Manacorda, Simon Martin, Anna Minton, Phil Minton, Fred Moten, Sofia Niazi, Rose Nordin and Heiba Lamara (OOMK), Ahmet Ögüt, Eileen Simpson and Ben White (Open Music Archive), Flora Parrott, Holly Pester, Ruth Potts, Michael Rakowitz, Jerszy Seymour, Daniel Sinsel, John Smith, Simon Starling, Maki Suzuki and Philippe Ciompi, Sally Tallant, Mabel Tapia, Jack Tan, Sam Thorne, Fatos Üstek, Richard Wentworth, Catherine Wood and Martin Hargreaves, Ken Worpole and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.
Each year, we invite 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, on average once a term.
The mentors are: Matthew Darbyshire, Benedict Drew, Marguerite Humeau, Paul Maheke, Sophie Mallett, Sally O’Reilly, Trish Scott and Maki Suzuki.
Previous mentors include: Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar (The Otolith Group), Janna Graham,John Douglas Millar, Tom Morton, Olivia Plender, Marijke Steedman, Ed Webb-Ingall.
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.
Collaboration with external organisations
The OSE associates are invited by institutions on a regular basis to show work and curate events. Host venues have included Turner Contemporary in Margate, Guest Projects in London and the William Morris Gallery in London on invitation by Create London. The associates have also taken part in festivals such as Art Licks Weekend, the Margate Festival and Antiuniversity Now.
In 2018, OSE will start a new collaboration with Limbo in Margate, which will host four week-long residencies for up to three OSE associates at a time. The Limbo-OSE Residencies will take place between May and September and will each culminate in an open crit, a public launch and a weekend-long presentation. The residencies will enable the associates to experiment with ideas, research and forms, and to present their work in a professional setting.
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 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 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.
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 learning opportunities outside the formal structures of school, college or university; the ability and willingness to work collaboratively, be self-directed and to enter into a meaningful dialogue with various types of audiences.
We aim to constitute a group of artists from a diverse range of backgrounds and practices. Please note 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 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.