- Alex Hartley
- Tom James
- Heritage Lottery Fund
- Historic England
A&H supported the development of the brief and selection of artists on this ambitions project at Compton Verney.
This was an opportunity to develop a new work in the parkland at Compton Verney as part of a Landscape Restoration Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aimed to be significant, high profile and impactful.
The team at Compton Verney wanted a work that attracted attention – hence the term ‘eye-catcher’ and where possible for it to be participatory, surprising or inventive and respond to the history/heritage of the landscape. Through this commission we also hoped to deepen historic understanding and enjoyment of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park and to prompt enquiry and new ways of looking at the site, via a 21st century response to its history, building upon its unique architectural, art and design led identity.
- To attract more people to site and help drive ambitious visitor targets.
- To engage our existing audiences
- Engage new audiences to visit
- To increase awareness of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.
- To respond to the impact of ‘Capability’ Brown on Compton Verney’s landscape.
- To make a lasting impression on long after visitors have gone.
- To increase the reach of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park’s distinctive/ innovative programme.
- To stimulate debate about contemporary public art in a historic rural environment.
- To respond sensitively and imaginatively to Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park’s site/historic setting.
Arts&Heritage supported Compton Verney’s Curator to develop a brief which was subsequently sent out to all contacts; artists and organisations; press, social media and advertising in the UK.
We asked for artists to submit an expression of interest to the Curator. The expression of interest was a very short proposal outlining ideas and how the brief could be met together with a CV and artist statement and up 6 images of previous work.
Approximately 120 artists applied for the opportunity. The Curator then worked with Arts&Heritage, Compton Verney’s Head of Grounds and Head of Programming to shortlist from the artists’ submissions.
Once the shortlist was drawn up we asked the shortlisted artists (paying them a fee) to work up a more detailed proposal to include sketch designs, visualisations and explanation of the concept for the project. This included how it related/connected directly to the location; how the artist would approach its design, fabrication and installation and a detailed budget for realising the commission.
We also asked for details where possible of maintenance requirements and lifespan expectations; how the work could engage with the audiences (new and current); and detail of the anticipated duration of the project and where possible a timescale broken down into research, production and delivery. We also invited artists to visit should they want to.
Artists had just under a month to draw up the proposal and submit it to the Curator. Once submitted, all artists were invited to interview and the interview panel included the Curator, Arts&Heritage, Head of Programming and the Deputy Director, along with a representative from Historic England who was also a representative for the HLF.
Following the interviews Alex Hartley and Tom James were chosen for their proposal The Clearing.
Following the appointment of the artists, the site of the work was chosen with Head of Grounds and advised by Compton Verney’s landscape advisors and planners.
Impact & Budget
This project was funded as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Restoration Project. A budget of £45,000 was offered to the artists, but in addition we included additional budget for the participatory elements (initially to be taken on by Compton Verney’s programming team) for the artists, as that was element they included in their project.
The total budget to the artists for the project ended up being £49,000. This included the design, making, activating/participation element, installing of the work. There was an additional budget for administration, planning and marketing.
Alex Hartley is a contemporary artist, who has exhibited widely throughout the world since leaving the RCA in the early 1990’s. His ten-year project Nowhereisland was one of the signature projects for the London 2012 Olympics, bringing a newly discovered Arctic island to the UK. More than 23,000 people signed up as citizens of this new country. He was part of the 2014 Folkestone Triennial, and in 2015, he won the Arts Foundation award for Art in the Elements, and the COAL prix for Art in the Environment. In recent years, Alex has increasingly made post-studio works outside of the gallery, often involving occupation and participation. Current projects include a major commission for Somerset House’s Utopia season, a modernist ruin for Kentucky, and an occupied bunker for Victoria Miro Gallery London.
Tom James is a writer, self-publisher and artist. He has ten years experience of creating innovative publishing projects to help people reimagine structures, communities and ideas. Tom’s work has been featured across the national media; his campaign to reuse two abandoned cooling towers as art was the focus of a Channel 4 documentary; and his fanzine, Go, is part of the permanent collection of the V&A. Tom is also part of Spacemakers, an arts and regeneration agency based in Brighton. Tom led the Cricklewood Town Square project for Spacemakers, a public space project in North-West London that engaged and worked with various community groups to bring disused ground to life. Recently, Tom’s practice has headed in a new direction. He’s currently producing A Future Manual: a DIY guide that aims to explore the skills we’ll need in a future depleted by climate change. He has run fire-making workshops at g39 in Cardiff, and distributed the manual at the London Art Book Fair, at Whitechapel Gallery.