A few months ago I was walking through Plymouth thinking how nice it would be to work with students to brighten up specific run-down and unloved areas. A few days later I stumbled across a Facebook group called Plymouth Artists Together doing just that!
I recently caught up with Mike Vosper who created the group to find out more about the group. On our call, Mike explained to me that his job within Plymouth City Council is within the Young Offenders Team, so the group was a creative way for them to make amends for their crimes. He explained they initially began by covering areas targeted with graffiti with daisies but that this soon developed in to wider opportunities for the community, focused on brightening up the city.
As Mike works for Plymouth City Council, he's easily able to find spaces within the city by asking permission from them, landlords, businesses and homeowners to find opportunities in all areas of the city, not just the city centre. Not only are there these community collaborative projects but also the chance of paid commission work too. He encourages any member of the group to reach out about opportunities they'd like to see and engage with, as well as if there are any spaces they've spotted which they think could use a little love from the group.
Mike said "Plymouth's Artists Together is a Facebook group that's been set up with people who are frustrated with how neglected some buildings are and how dull places look, it's just a way for like minded people to support people."
Projects so far have included the Random Art Corner on Union Street, the Lockdown Gallery in Millbay, mural boards at the Civic Centre, art and daisies on the bridge in Stoke, street art and murals at the substation by Millbay Academy, BT Boxes in Stonehouse, Reel Cinema, a derelict Georgian house in Devonport, and many more. Mike is the process of turning Plymouth Artists Together into a Community Interest Community so that they are able to apply for funding and grants for future projects too.
The Plymouth Artists Together Facebook group includes local councillors and the head of Plymouth City Council as well as lots of other creatives in the city, so it's a great place to network as well as find opportunities. The group has been featured in local news, Plymouth Live, here too. Plymouth Artists Together also works with local independent art shop The Art Side for advice and supplies for the ongoing projects.
Plymouth Artists Together gives you the opportunity to engage with other artists within the city, helps with your networking and curator skills, as well as having the exciting opportunity to see your work and showcase yourself to the wider local community.
Some Plymouth College of Art students have already been making the most of the opportunities available. Lots of students have submitted designs for an exciting brief to paint their own BT box in North Stonehouse, each receiving £100 for their work. I also caught up with students Eleanor and Abby about their involvement with the Random Art Corner exhibition on Union Street. Here's what they had to say:
"The Random Art Corner has been set up to try and bring some colour and life to Union Street by asking people of all ages and abilities to donate artwork to be displayed on the wall. We each did a painting of scenes from the game Animal Crossing as this was something colourful and something we played a lot during lockdown. The organiser of the group let us make our own frames and put the paintings up ourselves which was a cool experience. Whilst doing that we had members of the public come up to us and ask about the artwork and the project- it's been a really good way of getting our work out there. Since then, we've had a radio interview and have been in The Herald thanks to the project."
Student Union President