Leading artists and UK manufacturers unite for National Festival of Making

Posted on 12 Jun 2023 by The Manufacturer

Now in its fifth year, ‘Art in Manufacturing’ is the competitive headline commissioning programme that places artists in residence with some of the UK’s leading manufacturers as part of the National Festival of Making.

Conceived as a unique platform for artists to develop their practice and an opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue between artists and the industrial workforce, the commissioning programme explores the social and cultural fabric of place.

Bold spectacle, social engagement and creative excellence are threads that run through the collaborations and the resulting contemporary artworks which will form a central part of the Festival programme.

Festival of Making Community Interest Company (CIC) has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2017, with the Festival weekend attracting audiences of more than 30,000. In the most recent funding round from Arts Council England, the CIC was awarded National Portfolio Organisation status, recognising its contribution to the cultural regeneration of Blackburn and wider Lancashire, achieving an economic impact of approximately £1m annually and supporting the development of a strong, place-based cultural ecology.

Elena Jackson, Curator of the Art in Manufacturing Programme and Co-Director of the National Festival of Making, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have welcomed each of the artists and manufacturers to this year’s National Festival of Making programme, our first as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

“Partnerships with our manufacturing stakeholders are integral to the unique nature of these artist residencies; 2023 sees a third residency with the exceptional design team at the Cardboard Box Company; a new relationship with Herbert Parkinson, a worker-owned John Lewis factory that celebrates its 70th Anniversary during the Festival of Making week; the return of Cookson & Clegg who are pioneering new ways to work on the production line; technical experts Panaz who are at a pivotal and exciting time for their expanding design portfolio and brand new partner SWS UK based in Lancaster who have welcomed an artist onto their garage door and roller shutter production line for the first time.

“2023’s commissioned artists have hugely ambitious practices with individual focus on audience experience, access and imagination. We can’t wait to see the ideas that have been crafted by artists emerging from these residencies – ideas that will be at the heart of a packed programme of thought-provoking exhibitions, workshops and interventions for our audiences to experience.”

The National Festival of Making is a unique celebration of making and manufacturing – from the kitchen table to the factory floor. Presenting a programme of work that combines art, manufacturing, making and communities, the Festival commissions artists to create outstanding works and curates a programme of making activity, including – workshops; food, craft and design makers markets; industry talks; street food; live performance and music and artistic commissions – expressed in a participatory free festival weekend and programme of year round work for all to enjoy.

National Festival of Making is supported by Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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