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Centre's Heritage set to Inspire Contemporary Artists

The Centre is one of six museums and heritage sites have been selected to work in partnership with artists to commission a new work of art inspired by each venue.

Didcot Railway Centre; the National Paralympic Heritage Centre in Aylesbury; Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology in Reading; Furzey Gardens in the New Forest National Park; and ‘a space’ arts and The Brickworks Museum in Southampton will all take part in the Meeting Point programme.

Steph Allen is Executive Director at contemporary arts agency Arts&Heritage, which leads the programme. “Arts&Heritage works with museums and heritage sites which have little previous experience of commissioning contemporary art.

“We’ll be working with these six venues to pair each with an artist who will create a brand new piece of work – which could be anything from sculpture to a sound installation – created especially for the venue and inspired by its history and collections,” said Steph.

The Meeting Point programme has previously worked with venues in the North East, North West and the midlands, partnering more than 20 museums with artists from across the UK.

As well as commissioning a new artwork which responds to their collection, each venue also receives training in best practice for working with artists.

Mia Delve, Creative Programme Officer at ‘a space’ arts, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to work with an acclaimed and experienced visual artist on a new commission at God's House Tower. I'm really looking forward to working with the artist to uncover and interpret some of our lesser-known, marginalised histories. It will also be great to meet representatives from the other participating museums and hugely beneficial to exchange advice and discuss the challenges we face in the heritage sector, especially in these unprecedented times."

Paul West, Treasurer, Bursledon Brickworks Museum Trust, said: "This is a great opportunity for us to show the world that we are a modern, outward looking museum. We are relishing the chance to share our fantastic collections with an artist, who will respond, we hope, with something beautiful, unique and inspiring whilst celebrating our industrial heritage."

Emma Jhita, CEO of Didcot Railway Centre, said: “I am delighted Didcot Railway Centre has been selected to take part in Meeting Point. Commissioning an artist through the programme will enable new audiences to explore the incredible railway heritage we care for and social histories we share. Gaining a fresh perspective on our collection will provide an exciting opportunity for our passionate volunteers and audiences of all ages to discover new connections with this important industrial heritage.”

Dawn Wood, Director of Development at Furzey Gardens, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with contemporary artists on this project and the timing couldn’t be better as we hope to be able to unveil the work as part of our centenary celebrations of Furzey Gardens in 2022.

“The gardens exist to support people with learning disabilities to learn new skills that help them live more independent, happier and healthier lives. Furzey is also a tranquil place for thousands of people to escape the stresses of modern life each year.

“Exploring what the gardens mean to people through art will help us explore the essence of the gardens while producing a fitting tribute to all it has achieved in its 100 years.”

Amy C. Smith, Curator of the Ure Museum and Head of the Classics Department at University of Reading, said: “Meeting Point is a great way to keep museums at the forefront of cultural activity, that is, to help ever wider audiences see the connection between contemporary creative arts and the collections of historical, archaeological and sociological information encapsulated in our museums. We are really looking forward to discover how artists might respond to different aspects of our collection.”

Vicky Hope-Walker, CEO of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, said: “The National Paralympic Heritage Trust are delighted to have been selected to be part of this imaginative public art commissioning programme. It will enrich the skills set and broaden the views of our small Trust and enable us to explore creative interpretations of our disability sport collections through the eyes of a contemporary artist. Bringing together art, sport and disability will be an exciting journey for us all.”

Meeting Point is led by contemporary art specialists Arts&Heritage ( Meeting Point presents artworks in unexpected places and supports small and medium scale museums to commission artists, forging new relationships between the contemporary arts and heritage sectors.

Arts&Heritage is funded as a Sector Support Organisation by Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Organisation funding.

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