The duo became Artists in Residence at the Chocolate Factory on Siddals Road for four weeks to breathe new life into the empty space and further their quest to make art accessible to all.
They devoted their time throughout July to exploring, engaging with, reacting to and exploiting the empty unit, using their provocative, critical and at times humorous approach.
Smith & Hersey focus their activities on reactivating disused or redundant spaces in both rural and urban environments, and knowing this QUAD’s artistic director Louise Clements offered the pair the venue to undertake a project.
QUAD has access to the factory until 2018 as part of its arts development partnership with Compendium Living which is regenerating the Castleward area of Derby.
The plan for July was that the artists would develop new site-specific art works and document the results via podcasts, films and updates on their website.
The whole project was to culminate in a one-night only exhibition that will be open to the public this evening (Saturday July 27).
It will definitely be worth going along to the exhibition which is open from 6pm to midnight, as it will be an unforgettable experience.
“At the end of the evening everything we have created will be taken down and some of the work will even be smashed. By the Sunday morning it will be gone. Everything goes back to zero,” explained Nick.
For the project to work there has to be an element of surprise to what people find when they arrive at the factory but we can reveal that Ivan has created a metropolis – a giant wooden city out of scrap he has found in Derby. Nick has worked on a series of portraits of people who had engaged in some way with the project and mounted them on glass.
The raw materials for the project have come from traders from Castleward and Nick said that they felt the project had had a positive impact on the local area.
“People have been curious and interested and coming over to see what is going on. They have been willing to participate in the project,” he said, adding that their contribution, whether it was by supplying materials or by expressing themselves would be part of the final show.
“We set out to make this art accessible. It may be based on fairly sophisticated principles but that doesn’t make it prohibitive. We want people to come and have a look. We want to reach out to everyone and make art less elitist.
“It is a reality that many people think art is not for them but we want to reach out to the everyday Joe and show them that art is for all.”
The artists also hope this reactivation of the building for the production of art will be the catalyst for change.
“This is a perfect opportunity to test the appetite of artists in Derby. Artists locally have for years argued loudly about the lack of studio provisions in the city – now, at the Chocolate Factory there is the chance to push for their voices to be heard by activating this space by and for themselves.
“There will never be a better opportunity for Derby artists to forge their own future.”
You can see progress of Smith & Hersey’s residency on their website, http://www.smithandhersey.com
QUAD is looking for other proposals from promoters, artists and creatives with ideas for exciting and innovative projects and activities that could take place Chocolate Factory.
There is no specific funding or resources to support any projects but they suggest they could range from live music gigs and theatre events to club nights and art exhibitions.
If you are interested go to http://www.derbyquad.co.uk to download an application form.