Celebrating Post War Architecture with photographer James Smith

A Brutal Wilderness copyright James Smith
A Brutal Wilderness copyright James Smith

On the the 5th March 2014 AHA-MK welcomed documentary photographer James Smith to speak at our Forum, below are a few highlights and thinking points from James’ talk.  You can see more of James’ work on his website: http://j-smith.co.uk

With an encyclopaedic knowledge of New Towns and their development, James has completed signature projects in communities such as Corby, Milton Keynes, Hatfield, Luton, and most recently Harlow. Picking out often unnoticed or overlooked architectural detail; James’ photography looks at the cityscape in a brand new way.

James describes himself as a documentary photographer who carries out reconnaissance and research in the urban landscape.  He is particularly interested in the period before regeneration takes place.

By exploring new places from an outsider’s point of view, James feels that he can provide a new perspective on a town or area – being a foreigner in a community or landscape allows an artist to take an objective point of view and to identify stories or aspects that are less obvious, and can be more effective, or moving.

James prefers to shoot on overcast days – providing an anti-subjective viewpoint with neither shadows, nor illumination from sunlight.

James has worked with councils and developers on projects to document change as it happens, to understand communities better and to look at how spaces are designed and used.  These projects have helped communities to come together and aided developers in understanding the social and design challenges of their regeneration projects.

In many cases James has found that his work provides an opportunity for the parties involved in regeneration to take stock and perhaps to realise that although urban landscapes that are deteriorating need to be refurbished, by completely clearing and re-building our heritage is being destroyed.

James’ interest in post-war architecture and design principles has led him to work in new towns and his work clearly shows the different stages of construction and phases of new town buildings.  It is now possible to see several generations of new town in the urban landscape of one area, providing interesting documentation of how these different architectural styles interact.

The image above is from Milton Keynes, and shows the ongoing fight of nature to exist and thrive in urban areas.  With the continuous growth and development planned for Milton Keynes, James’ work suggests that the city might benefit from a process of documentation to collect and collate the changes that are being implemented now.  There is a wealth of information relating to Milton Keynes’ early development, but how much is being captured now?

Highlights from Chairs Note March 2014

Arts Council Grant awarded

It was great to be able to announce at this week’s Forum that AHA has been awarded just under £30,000 by the Arts Council for our “MK Audiences” project. This is part of the Arts Council’s “Audience Finder” initiative launched over a year ago, which Adrienne Pye of the Audience Agency told us about at an AHA meeting in November 2012, with a view to creating an “MK cluster” within this national initiative.

New AHA website

Thanks to all of you who commented on the pilot version of the new AHA website recently circulated. The response was generally very positive, thanks to the enormous amount of work that has been put in. Suggestions have been taken on board wherever possible, and the new website will hopefully go live next week. The address is unchanged: http://www.aha-mk.org.

Discussions with thecentre:MK

Thanks to all those who sent in ideas of eventsexhibitions/activities AHA members might wish to mount in thecentre:MK. We took the whole list for discussion with the centre last week. They seemed impressed with many of the ideas and very positive about offering opportunities in the centre, and are due to get back to us next week.

Registering AHA as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

Following the preparation of a draft for the Charities Commission, and discussion of this at our January AHA meeting, we have now made the formal submission to the CC. The process thereafter may take as little as a month, but it might be significantly longer.

Guardian profile for MK

In case it hasn’t reached you by other routes, Monica Ferguson did an interview with The Guardian earlier this week: see http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/2014/mar/04/monica-ferguson-stables-milton-keynes-festival.

Midsummer Boulevard workshop

Many thanks to our Vice-Chair, who participated, on AHA’s behalf, in a 3-day workshop at the beginning of February, the aim of which was to produce a blueprint for developing the eastern end of Midsummer Boulevard. No doubt there’ll be a report on the outcomes in due course: we’ll keep you posted.

Lobbying MK Council on their 2014/15 budget

Thanks to those AHA members who commented in response to my request for responses to MKC’s budget proposals, and especially to those who took the trouble to write to the Council.

Member News/Opportunities

Voluntary work wanted: Raihana Sohrabi is looking for voluntary work as a junior accountant to gain experience. Currently studying AAT level 3. E-mail raihana.ahmad03@gmail.com.

First artist call-out for 2014 Festival Fringe: Information is attached. Please feel free to share this with friends, contacts, networks, etc. Contact Anita Allen anita@mkfestivalfringe.com or on 07952 237421 for an application form. http://mkfestivalfringe.com/callouts/ 

Join us on the 5th March…

…for ‘Celebrating our Post-War Architectural Heritage’ with James Smith and ‘Learning About Commissioning’ with Richard Hollinshead at City Discovery Centre (MK13 9AP) on 5th March.

Download the AHA Flyer 05 03 14 for full details.

With an encyclopaedic knowledge of New Towns and their development, James has completed signature projects in communities such as Corby, Milton Keynes, Hatfield, Luton, and most recently Harlow. Picking out often unnoticed or overlooked architectural detail; James’ photography looks at the cityscape in a brand new way. 

Richard currently acts as Public Art Officer for Milton Keynes Council (during Louise Izod’s maternity leave), and is Senior Lecturer in Sculpture and Spatial Practice at the University of Northampton. His talk will focus on the use a small number of case studies to open a discussion about the commissioning of public art for heritage sites.

Members meeting starts at 10am, for non-members James will begin at 11.15am.  Lunch is included.

Please RSVP to: aha-mk@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Made in MK 2013 Highlights

Black Feathers MK Arts Centre

  • Made in MK took place between 28th June and 15th September 2013.
  • Through this project the Arts and Heritage Alliance – Milton Keynes (AHA-MK) provided the collective marketing umbrella for 150 events across the Borough of Milton Keynes – these included workshops and courses, exhibitions, dance, heritage activities, performance and fringe activity in the public realm.
  • Activities were delivered by over 40 organisations from AHA-MK and Milton Keynes Heritage Association (MKHA) membership and beyond.
  • Over this three-month period Made in MK attracted nearly 50,000 attendees.
  • MK Festival Fringe, Proms in the Park and the Arts and Culture Festival (in Campbell Park) all recorded increased audiences in comparison to last year
  • AHA-MK commissioned five new artworks, designed to celebrate Milton Keynes, which were displayed in and around the city centre during the summer
  • Through working with media partners MKFM and MK Citizen we ensured that Made in MK received significant press coverage and Destination Milton Keynes hosted all our listings online.

The level of collaboration and co-operation shown by our members and partners continues to impress us – we are working hard to make this process as easy as possible.  SoC 2012 was a pioneering year, which proved to the sectors the value of working together on a large-scale joint venture and Made in MK has allowed these relationships to develop even further.  By pulling together in this way, MK arts and heritage organisations are able to achieve a critical mass, and promote a cultural offer that spans the Borough.

Drawing Machine

Funding for this project came from four sources:

  • Arts Council England with match funding from the MK Collection
  • We secured £5,000 from MK Community Foundation to allow us to offer 5 commissions to artists (and further commissions were offered by MK Festival Fringe), with a brief to celebrate Milton Keynes and engage members of the public.
  • MK Council also provided funding for the production and distribution of marketing materials, in recognition that we were continuing the legacy of SoC on a significantly smaller budget.

Organisations involved in AHA-MK have told us that they were very pleased to be involved in this project:

Made in MK’ provided a strong legacy for the 2012 Summer of Culture programme, contributing to Milton Keynes’ aspiration to be distinctive and World Class.  (David Hill, MK Council) 

The Gallery was delighted to support the ‘Made in MK’ campaign.  Thematically, it linked perfectly with our summer exhibition and events programme ‘MK Calling’ (Katharine Sorensen, MK Gallery)

‘Made in MK’ played an important role in helping to bring many of the disparate creative programmes across MK together into one cohesive audience offer. (Jessica Rost, MK Festival Fringe)

Annual Report 2012 -13

Godiva Awakes

AHA-MK exists to promote, develop and represent the arts and heritage of Milton Keynes.

How do we do it?

We promote, lobby and represent… We support, develop and train… We network, share and inform… Above all we collaborate.

This year our members have contributed to:

  • Over 5,000 inspiring events in Milton Keynes
  • 1,241,370 visits made to them
  • £18,250,000 of turnover
  • 1,600 workshops for participants of all ages
  • 1,700 volunteering opportunities

With a mission to bring together organisations that create exciting experiences in art and heritage, AHA-MK promotes Milton Keynes’  unique identity to local,regional and national audiences.

Achievements 2012 – 13
  • Contributed to a successful Summer of Culture, which drew in 161,000 attendees and produced a total economic impact of £6.4m gross.
  • Supported MK Festival Fringe in delivering their biggest festival yet, including street performance, theatre, dance, music, workshops and the first ever MK Walking with Giants Parade.
  • Advocated on behalf of members, e.g. by contributing to MK Council’s consultations on assessing the community’s health and well-being, business rate relief, and the development of a Local Infrastructure Plan.
  • Celebrated members’ work and their venues through Heritage Open Days and Arts and Heritage Open Places.
  • Secured Arts Council England funding to develop a Summer of Culture legacy project to encourage cross-programming and cross-marketing.
  • Delivered CPD sessions addressing the interface between museums and the arts, digital engagement, audience segmentation, how arts and heritage organisations can best work with schools, the Summer of Culture legacy, and the joys and sorrows of governance.

 

AHA-MK Annual Report 2012 – 2013
www.aha-mk.org / chair@aha-mk.org
All information relates to the accounting year April 2012 – March 2013