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“The gallery is the artistic layout for the imagination and mind.” 
Ahmed, age 11, Chandos School.

‘When setting out a new allotment you should always think first about where you will sit.”
Vanley Burke, artist, Birmingham.

Artists are catalysts. We are the dreamers and doers, collaborators and supporters, guests and hosts who work alongside communities to imagine and co-evolve our civic infrastructure.

In the mid-1960s the Artist Placement Group (APG) proposed and made strenuous efforts to radically transform artists’ relation to society. Adopting the role of the incidental person, the group proposed getting involved in the processes of other organisations, from steel factories to government offices. APG considered artists a hugely underused human creative resource that offered a potential benefit of tangential thinking and making. We are interested in both this function of artists ‘to watch the doings and listen to the noises’ and APG’s concept of the open brief. 

We are further exploring these approaches by inviting Incidental Artists to work with us as allies, collaborators, agents of wider change, and attention magnets in a variety of contexts over an extended period of time. We have reworked Eastside Projects’ organisational resources to pay larger artist fees (£10,000 fee + £10,000 production) and create the flexibility to synchronise with and respond to the Incidental Artists’ goals and choose the best way, place and time to make art together in a period of potential global change.

We know that unlikely combinations produce discovery and we plan to be a catalyst for change here in the gallery, in the school, over dinner, in a village in North India, in many places, to find a way to connect, ways to think, and fathom the right place to sit.

We believe that context is more than half the work and that artists and organisations have to adapt as times and value systems change. After the end of continual growth,  the end of freedom to continue colonial practices, but still amongst the cultural contradictions of capitalism, we are heading beyond the multi-modernism of post-information smart societies into a contested new emergent society, or emergency societies, of degrowth, rebalance, reparations and re-attentiveness. 

Things must change and so must we.

Incidental Artists 2022–26

Alice Theobald, Sahjan Kooner, Abbas Zahedi, melissandre varin, Verity-Jane Keefe