The Space - training and mentoring for artists

"Working with GMV reinvigorated our enthusiasm in what is a tough project. We got to see afresh the value to audiences and sponsors in their experiences across social media, film and physical installation." Cath Le Couteur and Nick Ryan, artists, Adrift

Funded jointly by the BBC and Arts Council England, The Space commissions innovative and diverse digital art projects. It also offers training and mentoring to its artists – this is where GMV comes in.

We were asked to provide support to artists on two projects:

  • And: displaced Syrian artists using a range of different media
  • Adrift: exploring the hidden world of space junk

We took an experience design approach: what sort of impact were artists aiming to create? What did they want people to think, feel and do as a result of seeing their artwork? How could the different digital – and in some cases physical – experiences of their artwork interconnect to make a meaningful whole?

‘And’ was a joint programme between The Space and the British Council. We helped displaced Syrian artists – many of whom were inexperienced with digital – to design the online life of their work around who they wanted to reach and how they wanted them to engage with it. This naturally led to choices of platforms and the subject matter that would cause people to discover the works. Finally, the ‘format’ of each work on its different platforms could be worked out.

Our work with Adrift focused on funding strategy but started by defining the experience created and questions raised by the artwork. From this we mapped the wider appeal that the project might have to potential sponsors beyond the niche world of space debris. We then looked at the kinds of audience data and venue and media partners that were needed to create an appealing package for sponsors.

"Patrick and Mandy were skilled at questioning the artists in a way that inspired new ideas yet allowed the artists to keep ownership of the process. There was no set script, no easy answers – they gave them the tools to do it themselves. In each conversation I saw a clear shift change in capabilities and understanding." Caitlin Griffiths, training and mentoring manager, The Space