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  • Writer's pictureSacha Gray

Developments so far in the ArtBomb lab

ArtBomb is more than a festival, and is deeper and wider than an artist presenting their work. It’s about process, development and a strong emphasis on collaboration and experimentation. I am the ArtBomb lab developer and I have been engaging with artists and environmental scientists and enabling them to explore new ideas together through the residencies, and development programmes that we, ArtBomb, are currently running.

A ‘lab is not traditionally associated with art and certainly not familiar in my home town of Doncaster. This is a more contemporary art space set up where boundaries between practices and media can be blurred, deconstructed, played with through experimentation forming new ideas and questions.

I have been working with artist, lecturer and prolific space designer/maker, Micky Bunn to construct the ArtBomb lab with a focus on an easily adaptable and fluid use of the space for our resident artists/scientists to use including making the most of a double window frontage to showcase ongoing developments to the public. The space is an exciting formation of workbenches, tool kits and resources such as video projectors, raspberry pi’s, green screen, retort stands, audio recorders and art materials and mini library, courtesy of ArtBombs’ Creative Director Mike Stubbs. The library contains catalogues of contemporary artists, artworks and theories that inspire.

Over the past few weeks I've been very lucky to hang out and work with some super interesting people already doing exciting work. David Bramwel, Carolin Sinders, Rebecca Smith, Angela Robson and Brigitte Perenyi are the artists in residence at the ArtBomb lab. The concoction of ideas and interests within this cohort of artists/scientists/activists is intoxicating at times. ArtBomb lab is currently hosting a 3 week residency with Wild Weed Kitchens’ Monika Dutta and Jake Harries, who are working in collaboration with artist Janet Wallace and myself. This residency is a predominantly public facing and public engaging project bringing the idea and reality of wild food to the fore with drop in events and workshops. In terms of public interest and willingness to get involved and chat to Monika and Jake, the residency has been very successful, evidenced by the public being very curious of these goings on and particularly intrigued and even keen to try a dandelion burger and stir fried weeds.

The last half of this residency crosses over with the first Re-Wilding the System lab-based residency scheme in which artists research experimental work alongside ecologists and environmental scientists. This is the first of 3 rounds of lab activity where the four artists and special guests have been undertaking a get together of various events and activities to assist them in developing their work. This has included a field trip out to Hatfield Moors which I took part in. Mick Oliver, our expert tour guide brimming with not just knowledge but immense wisdom and lots of humour took us on a journey through the peatlands that he is evidently, acutely familiar with. We looked and learned deeply through Mick’s relentless and meticulous work to ‘re wet’ and assist restoration of the species of plants and insects that have been lost through human ignorance and are so vitally important to that particular land and consequentially important to the whole health of the environment. This experience will inform the rewilding artists work they develop for the the upcoming ArtBomb festival. The works that come from this will be mixed, and range from written pieces, to films, projections and performance with the emphasis experimental, collaborative and deep thinking using new media, new ways of making art that connects to people and provokes inquiry from its viewers.

This experience and gathering of artists sees the beginning of a development of work that will continue with more sharing and learning on the themes of environmental issues, hyper local and global. With input form scientist Simon Pickles and a number of amazing environmental organisations and individuals. The work has only just begun and the process is proving exciting and surprising.

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