The Cornwall Workshop is a weeklong intensive residential workshop for artists, curators and writers. It provides a space for discussion, debate and the sharing of ideas and encourages critical feedback and collaboration, with the aim of fostering continuing working relationships amongst participants.
Following The Falmouth Convention, a three-day international conference held in May 2010, Cornwall-based artists and curators emphasised the need for further critical activity to sustain momentum and contribute to the region’s international profile and connectedness. Some artists and curators also expressed a desire to talk specifically about their own work and projects in Cornwall.
The first Cornwall Workshop (15 to 21 October 2011) provided a space for discussion of a wide range of independent and artist-led initiatives in Cornwall and offered opportunities for a more focused and sustained debate than could be accommodated in the context of The Falmouth Convention.
The Workshop was developed in critical dialogue with artists and in discussion with visual arts organisations in the region, including all the partners in The Falmouth Convention, with the addition of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Plymouth Arts Centre. It aimed to address the specific needs of artists, curators and critics based in Cornwall and the South West and to expand the region’s capacity by connecting to national and international networks and debates.
Development of the Workshop programme was informed by Wysing Arts Centre’s Escalator programme, the ICI Curatorial Intensives in New York and workshops at the Banff Centre in Canada. The first workshop was organised in partnership with Tate St Ives and supported by Arts Council England South West, with additional support and help-in-kind from a range of overseas agencies and from organisations in Cornwall.
The Workshop led on to The Penzance Convention, May 2012, convened by Teresa Gleadowe and Hadrian Pigott in partnership with Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, which explored the theme of extraction.
The second Cornwall Workshop was held at Kestle Barton from 18 to 25 October 2013 and organised by CAST. The Workshop opened with communal walks led by Hamish Fulton on the weekend of 19 and 20 October to mark the 40th anniversary of his commitment to ‘only make art resulting from the experience of individual walks’. The walks were organised in partnership with Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and took place in the Penzance area. Simon Starling took the Fulton walks as a starting point for an exploration of relationships between action, experience and documentation.
The third Cornwall Workshop took place from 11 to 18 March 2016 at Kestle Barton. It was led by acclaimed British artist and filmmaker Ben Rivers and focused on artists’ moving image practices, with an emphasis on analogue technologies. It was organised by CAST, working in partnership with LUX, the national agency that supports and promotes artists working with moving image. Ben Rivers shared his concerns for the physical and conceptual borders of society in curated film screenings and workshops.
In 2017 artist Christina Mackie led the fourth Cornwall Workshop, which took place from 6 to 13 October at Kestle Barton. This workshop, which contributed to the development of the Groundwork programme, was shaped by Mackie’s interest in materials and processes, and in observing and activating the subtle chains of association through which things relate to one another – intuitively or formally.
The fifth Cornwall Workshop took place from 11 to 18 October 2019 at Kestle Barton. It was led by Andy Holden and offered a space in which to explore a range of ideas suggested by his interests and work. A selection of writings, films and musical works framed the week-long conversation, starting with works included in The Long Revolution, a curated project at Holden’s studio space in Bedford, which looked at walking and observation as methods of gently affecting change.
The programme also included contributions by ornithologist Peter Holden. Composer and artist Mira Calix led an intensive sound workshop that concluded the week.