Leading Artist-Curator Speaks To Art Students

Ormiston Forge Academy was visited recently by the director of a not-for-profit arts organisation in Birmingham involved in the successful bid for the £1.5 billion Smithfield regeneration.

Ormiston Forge Academy hosted Gavin Wade from Eastside Projects in Birmingham as part of the Speakers For Schools programme. Over 400 students were invited to his talk where he discussed working in the creative arts sector. He encouraged students to share their ideas, explained what artists do, where they can make art, how to make a gallery and how to invent your own future. His talk inspired a number of questions from the audience made up from students who were currently choosing options and students currently studying art at A level and GCSE.

As well as being artist-curator and a director of Eastside Projects, Gavin is also Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University. In 2008 he proposed a new artist-run space as public gallery and Eastside Projects was launched. Since then the organisation has grown from strength to strength and in 2010 Gavin received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund Award for exceptional cultural entrepreneurs.

Gavin visited Forge as part of the Speakers for Schools programme which brings together eminent figures of today, from FTSE 100s and arts leaders to CEOs and tenured professors, creating a dynamic network of thousands of school talks and esteemed work experience placements – all for free. They have reached over 800,000 students nationwide through their school talks and work experience programme.

Emma Porter, head of art at Forge, said: “Art is an important part of life at Forge and we work hard to encourage students to make the most of every opportunity. Giving students a line of sight for a particular career is vitally important and having Gavin speak to so many students certainly opened their eyes to the potential of working in the creative sector.

In the near future we will be taking our students on an art walk using the Birmingham Art Map, published by Eastside Projects, to explore more of the concepts and themes from his talk – it’s so exciting to bring art to life.

We were delighted to hear that Eastside Projects had been part of the successful bid for the Birmingham Smithfield regeneration and we let the students know that Gavin was an important part of that process.

A team led by David Kohn Architects was recently hosen by Lendlease to design a mixed-use market building at the heart of its £1.5 billion Birmingham Smithfield regeneration. The David Kohn Architects-led collaboration, which includes local arts organisation Eastside Projects led by Gavin Wade was chosen from an eclectic, global, five-strong shortlist for the landmark job. The Smithfield market project, planned to complete in 2025, will be one of the first schemes delivered under Lendlease’s wider 300,000m² Birmingham Smithfield masterplan.

Gavin said: “I’m proud to be a part of the Speakers For Schools initiative and was delighted to be invited to Forge to speak. The school and the art department have a great vibe and I’ve invited everyone down to Eastside Projects.

“We need our young people to imagine and shape all of our futures. Art is a vital job in doing this, inventing your own way of working, and shaping the world and I hope my hard work can inspire and support the next generation of talented, creative people.”

Gavin has made art and curated exhibitions around the world including Guangzhou, Johannesburg, New York, San Francisco, Bergen, Amsterdam, Sharjah, Dublin, Berlin and Venice. He is publisher and author of many books including ‘Strategic Questions’ founded in 2002 – an ongoing series of artworks as publications that answer the 40 questions you need to know the answers to in order to solve all the worlds problems!

A level student, Harley, with Gavin Wade.
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