ISLINGTON M I L L
I N T R OD U C T IO N Islington Mill (IM) is a leading independent UK arts organisation based in Salford, in England, structured around an organic network of independent artists, Islington Mill runs innovative inter-disciplinary public arts programmes and artists residencies alongside studio spaces and artistsâ€™ B&B. Drawing on the radical and subversive creative energy running through its arts activities, Islington Mill also has a reputation for putting on legendary experimental gatherings, events and parties. Based in the evocative buildings and courtyard of a former Victorian Mill, IM is a unique and inspiring environment where the architecture of Industrial Britain is fused with the creative energy of industrious artists at work and play. Founded by Bill Campbell in 2000, who bought it after spending four years developing the project and raising the initial finance, IM is the product of a singular dream to form a network of artists around the shared goal of living and working as freely and creatively as possible. Like the Hacienda before it, IM is organised along similar principles inspired by the Situationist movement, an avant-garde European art movement formed in the fifties and sixties that became a prototype of punk. Picking up where the former left off, Islington Mill has a similar focus of creating an open-source environment outside of conventional structures and art traditions that can act as a catalyst for â€˜the creative actâ€™ in all its many forms, and unlock the inner artist in almost anyone. Currently run by designer Bill Campbell, musician Mark Carlin and visual artist Maurice Carlin, IM is a non-hierarchical organisation that makes no distinction between work and play, outcome and process, chaos and control. Operating outside a commercial, profit-led agenda, it is a genuinely independent arts organisation that puts nurturing, supporting and inspiring creativity, especially new and emerging talent, at the heart of everything it does.
Forged in the spirit of D-I-Y, it recognises risk-taking and experimentation in a non-judgemental, non-pressured environment as integral to art practice and is able to offer artists an unusual level of creative freedom in an increasingly market-led cultural landscape. Although IM is predominantly focused around the physical space in Salford, it recently organised its first â€˜mass residencyâ€™ with thirty artists in Ibiza, and an artist and organisational residency with Flux Factory, NYC. Not content with stopping at these achievements, IM is continuously seeking to progress in its mission to inspire, educate and develop artists in their careers. Earlier in 2013 IM was very pleased to have received its first ever ACE programme funding in its history, which will be used towards testing new strategies for residencies and developing its marketing and organisational structure. As part of this forward-looking strategy, IM is excited about the opportunity to develop its existing residency scheme to host even more artists. It hopes to convert its 6th floor space into further B&B style bedrooms and its 5th floor into a dedicated artist residency space. However, further funding is still needed for IM to realise its full potential and so it is constantly exploring funding sources and income streams that will allow it to maintain its unique vision for the arts into the future. To this end, IM has also secured Arts Council Catalyst funding, in consortium with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), this fund helps arts organisations access private funding by exploring how relationships can be formed with patrons and other independent income sources. IM is now looking to an exciting future that is global and ambitious. With the right funding in place, it hopes to be responsible for sending local artists out into international residencies, while receiving incoming international artists in order to fully realise its potential as a dynamic international arts hub and creative interchange.
O U R V I S IO N Everyone should be able to live and work as freely and creatively as possible. A strong independent arts organisation, built on principles of inclusion, originality and empowerment. A value-led organisation focused on people and partnerships. Nurturing the conditions where excellence can flourish and potential is realised, by allowing the time and space for people to experiment, take risks and grow. Internationally recognised as a centre of creative freedom, where anyone can produce work that challenges our accepted notions of what art and culture can do and who can be involved.
O U R M I S S IO N Independence is the cornerstone of Islington Mill; it’s fundamental to who we are, what we do and the way we do it. Operating as an independent arts organisation enables us to develop an enterprising, responsive space, which inspires the exploration of new ideas, ventures, artworks and collaborations. Our key stakeholders are the people working and living in The Mill; a vibrant, diverse and fluid community generating a unique creative ecology. Structures and spaces emerge in response to the needs of our key stakeholders. The ability to respond to evolving needs, embrace the unexpected, and to say ‘Yes’ are hallmarks of an independent organisation. Our unique ecology and independence are inseparable, creating an arts organisation with a sustainable momentum that is driven by need. Visiting international artists form an important part of The Mill’s fluid community of stakeholders. We meet the needs of visiting artists by providing accommodation within a vibrant arts space. Sharing space with international colleagues enables local artists to build relationships and opportunities for reciprocal exchanges. Facilitating this constant interchange of creative people and ideas from across the globe enriches our ecology and the wider cultural landscape of the North West. The value of what we do is evidenced by the creation of a flourishing community that supports wellbeing and ambition; and by our strong record of collaborations, events and creative outputs which gain regional, national and international recognition. Our reputation rests on our ability to innovate, experiment and thrive as an independent creative community that challenges accepted notions of what art can be.
DOCUMENT MAP Islington Mill is a thing of wonder. Unpacking what we do and why it works is a challenging task. This document map seeks to meet that challenge by drawing out the threads, overlaps and multiple outcomes which characterise our unique creative ecology.
S U S TA I N A BI L I T Y INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM AN ECONOMY OF TRUST & BELIEF A M BI T IO N I N T E R N AT IO N A L I S M C O L L A B O R AT IO N E D U CAT IO N , PE E R - L E A R N I N G & AC C E S S I B L E PR AC T IC E
COMMUNITY & WELLBEING E N R IC H I N G O U R S TA K E H O L D E R S , DELIVERING GROWTH TA L E N T R E T E N T IO N & R E G E N E R AT IO N
S U S TA I N A BI L I T Y
IM is self-financing - it does not receive any public revenue funding. All our income is derived from independent trading within a not-for-profit model. Our survival during harsh economic conditions testifies to the resilience of this model. Our success stems from the active cultivation of diverse income streams and the ability to respond to needs. The result is a dynamic ecology, which provides a collection of independent, enterprising artists with opportunities to succeed. We constantly evolve to meet the shifting needs of diverse stakeholders and emerging talent, and this ensures sustainability.
INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM
Sustainable economic viability delivers independence and guarantees the level of freedom required to pursue our vision of creativity. IM’s reputation rests on its ability to innovate, experiment and thrive as an independent creative community that challenges accepted notions of what art can be and who can be involved. We are free to embrace the atypical, supporting artists and practices that ‘don’t fit’ into formal criteria. Our spirit attracts emerging artists, enabling them to stay and work in the region. Our ability to commit to creative freedom is a valuable asset, recognised by institutions and organisations who seek to partner with us.
AN ECONOMY OF TRUST & BELIEF
Independence combined with community engenders Trust, in people and their abilities. Trust is a key ingredient of IM, enabling us to managing a diverse and fluid community. It supports forms of self-organisation, responsibility, participation and freedom. Belief is essential to young and early career artists. We nurture self-belief through our willingness to say Yes and take risks. Our dynamic ecology supports a belief in the value of experiment and intangible outcomes as important spurs to development and success.
A M BI T IO N
An economy of trust builds confidence through participation and shared responsibility. Artists are motivated, thatâ€™s why they approach us with their ideas and requests. We respond to their needs, supporting them to experiment, hone their craft and achieve goals. Our ecology and extensive network enables people to take opportunities, forge connections and be ambitious. This ambition may translate as refining skills and practice, presenting work or exploring ideas.
I N T E R N AT IO N A L I S M
IMâ€™s community is fluid and expansive. It reaches out into the region and across the world. A vibrant internationalism characterises the mix of people within its walls, and runs throughout its programme of events. Our building is a site of interchange, connecting us to a growing international network. This web of reciprocal relationships facilitates overseas opportunities for local artists and a healthy flow of new people and ideas arriving on our doorstep. We use digital infrastructures and group residencies to continue active working relationships with people and institutions around the world.
C O L L A B O R AT IO N
Ambition is about moving forward, meeting challenges and striving for something. Encounters with other artists, new experiences and discussion with peers are vehicles that trigger creative development and move practice forward. IM provides artists with a fluid, multi-disciplinary community and international network that thrives on collaboration. Itâ€™s unique mix of intimate domestic spaces, studios, galleries and 24 hour events venue generates constant opportunities for connections and productive exchange.
E D U CAT IO N , PE E R - L E A R N I N G & AC C E S S I B L E PR AC T IC E
Collaboration, community and patterns of working together are essential ingredients in supporting early career artists struggling to develop their practice beyond formal education. We offer practical solutions, like reduced rate studios, enabling economically vulnerable artists to access IMâ€™s resources. Flexible structures and spaces facilitate access, such as Islington Mill Art Academy (IMAA), an experiment in peer-learning tailored to meet the needs of artists striving to develop creative practice alongside full-time day jobs.
COMMUNITY & WELLBEING
Peer-learning strengthens the bonds between people; fostering trust and a sense of common endeavour within a fluid, diverse community. IM works on knitting together a supportive community of interests where artists gain the confidence to take risks, fail, and try again. People make art for many reasons. IM has a broad mix of motivations, and this adds to diversity, strengthening our ecology. A supportive and therefore healthy community enhances wellbeing and motivation.
E N R IC H I N G O U R S TA K E H O L D E R S , DELIVERING GROWTH
Our community of stakeholders developed from the diverse, fluid population of artists and doers associated with IM. This constant flow of artists, entrepreneurs, performers and visitors connect us with a network of local, regional, national and international organisations. Attracted by the uniqueness of what we offer, our associates and partner organisations recognise that IM not only enriches what they do, but makes it possible for them to do more. We deliver essential support to partner organisations across the region; filling crucial gaps in existing provision. Our record in delivering sustainable growth raises the bar of whatâ€™s possible, for artists based in Salford and for the cultural landscape of the region as a whole.
TA L E N T R E T E N T IO N & R E G E N E R AT IO N
Enhancing the viability of Salford as a place capable of attracting and retaining talent is fundamental to what we do; the City is an important stakeholder. Creative entrepreneurs are often in the vanguard of inner city regeneration; seeing potential and promise in neglected spaces. Our ethos of participation, community and open space makes us a vital ingredient, complimenting whatâ€™s already on offer in the region and generating new possibilities. IMâ€™s focus on young and emerging artists, its ability to respond with flexibility to their needs, and its growing international reputation helps to position Salford as a place where creative careers can develop and thrive. What we do enriches the vitality of our region, strengthening audience development and cultural tourism, generating real offshoots in the local economy.
Bill Campbell leases 4th Floor of Islington Mill (IM)
IM is put up for sale
Ssh – Group Show
Chapel St Open festival initiated
Bill Campbell purchases IM freehold
Bill Campbell invests £160k into refurbishment of Engine House as live/work Space
Blood Stream project – First installation of Susie MacMurray’s Stratum
Rachel Goodyear curates SHO1 aka Chapel St Open
Rachel Goodyear represented by International 3
10 studios created on 4th floor of IM Islington Mill Studios (IMS) set up by Bill Campbell as Sole Trader
Mark & Maurice Carlin create new recording studio on ground floor of IM – Salford City Council (SCC) Grant of £10k
Gallery created on ground floor of IM – SCC Grant of £10k 32 new studios created in 2nd & 3rd Floor – SCC Grant of £20k
Sounds From the Other City music festival created by Mark & Maurice Carlin
Bill Campbell investment in 50 studios totals £480k to date including purchase and development
Public events begin at IM, utilising TENS licences Salford URC invest £80k into Research and Development and feasibility study resulting in the incorporation of Islington Mill Arts Club (IMAC)
Bureau Gallery moves into new purpose-built space Ting Tings move into Engine House
Islington Mill Art Academy (IMAA) is founded
Guarantee with Bill Campbell, Mark & Maurice Carlin as Directors
Ting Tings release UK No.1 Album ‘We Started Nothing’
IMAC granted 24 hour entertainment Licence for events space on ground floor Bill Campbell invests £200k in to sales refurbishment of ‘Paramatta’ building as live/work space
Susie MacMurray creates Widow in Gallery Space
IMAA perform at ICA, London Ting Tings album reaches 3.5 million worldwide Ting Tings win Ivor Novello Songwriting Award
IMS begins trading in ‘Paramatta’ as B&B
IMAC & IMS run first residency using Paramatta and Gallery Space
IMAC secures 6 year lease on Ground Floor from IMS IMAC secures 100k from SCC & ACE and successfully redevelops ground floor into accessible venue & gallery space
‘Berlin Space’ year long residency project initiated by IMAC
‘B&B’ hosts artists for AND festival including Jeff Stark, NYC
IMAC raises £10k from Grants for Arts for Organisational Development
Volkov Commanders form and move into IMS studios SFTOC expands and now hosts over 1500 visitors
Susie MacMurray exhibits at the V&A and re-installs Stratum at IM Islington Mill featured in the New York Times Jen Wu arrives as artist in residence at Chinese Arts Centre and visits IM ’B&B’ hosts Asia Triennial artist Enkhbold Togmidshiirev
Residency Exchange begins with Flux Factory, NYC Potluck Dinner introduced to IM by artists Alison Ward and Shane Heinemeier from Flux Factory, NYC following residency in B&B Alison Erika Forde takes studio at IM, supported by private patron through International 3 IMAC host 187 events and 15272 audience in refurbished performance space
Residency exchange begins with La Escocesa, Barcelona
IMAA appear in Frieze Magazine Jeff Stark returns with other US artists to create Empire Drive In for AND festival IMAC applies for first round of ACE Large Capital grants scheme but is unsuccessful
NYC performance collective ‘CHERYL’ complete month long residency, collaborating with SFTOC and Volkov Commanders IMAC host Brittle Crazie Glasse during Manchester Contemporary on fifth floor at IM with Man & Eve Gallery, London, including work from Sophie Clements & Alistair McClymont Jen Wu begins work on new project, The Wall
Month long Organisational Residency Exchange with Flux Factory Group Residency to CANVAS in Ibiza Susie MacMurray exhibits at Danese Gallery, NYC Sophie Clements and Alistair McClymont complete residency at IM and create new work for Ghost in the Machine exhibition staged during Manchester International Festival Alistair McClymont collaborates with Mill resident sound system builders ‘Herbal Sessions’ to create new installation IMAC secures £80k from ACE, Grants for the Arts, for Organisational Development and Profile Raising
Rachel Goodyear & Volkov Commanders complete residency at Flux Factory Maurice Carlin stages 3 month long Performance Publishing at Regent Trading Estate Maurice Carlin solo show at Castlefield Gallery Alison Erika Forde exhibits at Manchester Art Gallery Jen Wu progresses The Wall project in conjunction with CFCCA, IM & Henry Moore Institute CHERYL return to IM for further residency and embark on European tour with Volkov Commanders and IMAC team IMAA appear in The Guardian
S U S TA I N A BI L I T Y Islington Mill is self-financing - it does not receive any public revenue funding. This business model has proved its resilience during harsh economic conditions. Our survival can be attributed to the active cultivation of diverse income streams and a strong community ethos built on principles of Independence, Usefulness and Need. Over the past ten years of organic development, ÂŁ1.19m has already been invested into developing a range of facilities and resources that have responded to the needs of the regionâ€™s creative community with entrepreneurial solutions. IM currently contains 50 artist studios, a multi-purpose performance space, a three-bedroom B&B and 4 live-work spaces. Each contributes crucial elements to our ecology and all of them function as discrete business units that generate their own financial means. We are home to over 50 SMEâ€™s. 100 artists work from the building on a day to day basis. Over the previous 3 years our multi-use venue has supported 4498 artists and introduced their work to a live audience of 43,909 across 380 public events. This translates as 1500 artists per year (50% local, 17% national and 33% international) and live audiences of 15,000 per year. Our B&B rooms have been occupied on average 130 nights per year over the previous 3 years by artists and cultural visitors from around the world. The result is a dynamic ecology, which provides a collection of independent artists with opportunities to develop their practice and forge careers in a healthy, supportive community. 14
Left: Alison Erika Forde in Studio Space at IM, Right: Solo show at Manchester City Art Gallery Alison Erika Forde, a young artist whose first studio space has been sponsored by collectors Valerie and Martin Torvell for 2 years. This support makes a vital contribution to the businesses of Islington Mill and International 3 (Alison’s gallery) as well as Alison’s career and development, leading to a solo exhibition at Manchester City Art Gallery, when she became their youngest ever solo exhibitor.
“Before having a studio at Islington Mill, I worked from half of my dad’s living room, which heavily restricted the work I was able to produce. I have taken part in events such as Christmas At The Mill which allow residents the opportunity to showcase and sell their work. The exhibition program is so diverse, I have encountered some great new contacts at these events, whom I hope to collaborate with in the future. As part of Yiiikes! collective, the Mill’s exhibition space played host to our debut exhibition, which was a brilliant experience. Taking over the room for a week to build the installation was a first for both myself and colleagues.”
Alison Erika Forde, 2013 15
Islington Mill: Sustained by a unique ecology
A fundamental feature of IMâ€™s ecology is fluidity, people step in and out of the process - some stay for one night, others become regular visitors and some stay for years. This fosters a unique combination of stability alongside constant renewal, adding to the vibrancy of our ecology. 16
â€œI was bowled over by the energy, the rawness and freshness of the thinking, the ambition and dedication of the team & their entrepreneurial approach to the creation of a truly free thinking cultural quarter that had a strong sense of the value of the artist as the prime.â€?
Kathleen Soriano Director of Exhibitions Royal Academy of Arts
INDEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM Independence is the cornerstone of Islington Mill; it’s fundamental to who we are, what we do and the way we do it.
Economic viability is the bed-rock of our independence and guarantees the level of freedom required to pursue our vision: a vibrant and accessible space open to possibilities. A multi-use space fuelled by passion and creativity, a space where anything can happen. A community that thrives on independence and freedom is productive - it generates ambition and delivers outcomes. Our tenants go on to do great things, both locally and internationally. IM’s reputation rests on its ability to innovate, experiment and thrive as an independent creative community that challenges accepted notions of what art can be and who can be involved.
Our 24hr performance licence eliminates time-constraints, enabling ambitious events such as Mill 24 and all night ‘filmathons’. Our ability to commit to creative freedom is a valuable asset, recognised by institutions and organisations who seek to partner with us e.g. Manchester Contemporary, Liverpool Biennial, Flux Factory (NYC), La Escocesa (Barcelona), CFCCA, Man & Eve (London), Contemporary Art Society. A community that thrives on independence and freedom is productive - it generates ambition and delivers outcomes. Our tenants go on to do great things, both locally and internationally. Our spirit attracts emerging artists, enabling them to commit to staying and working in the region, such as Rachel Goodyear and Susie MacMurray who have built international profiles while starting out and continuing to remain based in the NW.
Susie MacMurray ‘Stratum’ Islington Mill Attic Space, 2000 and 2011
Susie MacMurray, ‘Widow’ created at IM Gallery and subsequently shown at Royal Academy and V&A, London 2012
“I can trace a major proportion of all the subsequent contacts and relationships I have developed with galleries and museums, and the opportunities and projects I have enjoyed directly back to my initial involvement with Islington Mill. The fact that I am now exhibiting in museums and galleries and fulfilling commissions in places like New York, Los Angeles, Venice and currently at the Royal Academy in London, I credit entirely to the start the Mill enabled me to make, I simply would not be where I am now without the doors the Mill opened for me.”
Susie MacMurray, 2012 19
Laura Skilbeck showing at Pulse Design Fair, Earls Court, London, 2013
â€œI feel really that EVERYTHING has developed from my experience of being in the Art Academy, it was a really special and important time for my development - of my art practice, of my thoughts and ideas, of my communications and confidence. I feel that what I am doing now (making a living as a self employed artist, making paintings, illustrations and selling my recycled greetings cards - I sold 7000 cards last month!) has grown out of a continuation of the way that we worked at Art Academy - believing we could do amazing things and just getting on and doing them. I actually made my first greetings cards for the stall we had at the Mill Christmas fair.â€?
Laura Skilbeck, Islington Mill Art Academy member 2007 - 2009 20
“In 2011 I was asked by the ‘New York Times’ to discuss Manchester’s music but instead of harking back to the past I told them how much contemporary activity there as in the city, which had similarly informal, non-institutional roots. In the course of my interview with the paper I described Islington Mill as ‘one of the spiritual homes of the post-Haçienda generation’.”
Dave Haslam Cultural Icon and Author
AN ECONOMY OF TRUST & BELIEF PART: 1 Independence combined with community engenders trust, in people and their abilities.
Trust is a key ingredient of IM, enabling us to foster a diverse and fluid community. It supports forms of self-organisation, responsibility, participation and freedom. Belief is essential to young and early career artists. We nurture self-belief through our willingness to say Yes and take risks. Our dynamic ecology supports a belief in the value of experiment and intangible outcomes as important spurs to development and success. From Chapel St Open in 2000 to Dynamic Death Party in 2012 Islington Mill has a strong history of providing the first showcase opportunities for recent graduates. We recognise that young and early career artists need time and space to freely explore and experiment in order for their work to develop into something which may become of value to wider society. We often work with people who are searching for a way to channel their creativity but havenâ€™t yet formulated a way in which to do this. We respond directly to what people are telling us they would like to do without making premature qualitative judgments which can compromise creativity. We nurture a supportive environment that helps artists through vulnerable stages in their careers; and take direct measures where necessary, such as offering discounts on studio space, developing patronage and facilitating skill-swaps. We recognise that creative exploration involves risk and that this can be a difficult path to walk in isolation.
Artist, Rachel Goodyear shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize, 2009
â€œIslington Mill has played a significant and important role in my career as an artist ever since graduating from university and deciding to remain in Manchester in 2000. My very first exhibiting experience was at Islington Mill in the Chapel Street Open. The following year I was trusted with the responsibility of co-ordinating the follow-up SHO1, through which I was introduced to a huge creative network, which inevitably led to many more opportunities and a chain reaction that continues to this date. Even at that early time of the Millâ€™s life as a creative hub, it revealed itself as a place committed to nurturing new ideas, inspiring confidence and creating an environment where exciting things can happen through collaboration and communication. Islington Mill still has that vital energy it had in the beginning.â€?
Rachel Goodyear, Visual Artist, 2013 23
AN ECONOMY OF TRUST & BELIEF PART: 2
Islington Mill is driven by belief : we believe in people, their abilities and potential .
This is a central current running throughout the organisation. It’s evident in our commitment to independence, and our striving for a community based on trust and participation. This ethos supports the growth of wellbeing and a healthy community, which in turn generates greater self-assurance and ambition for the individual practitioners living and working in and around IM. As well as developing successful careers, we recognise that people make art for many reasons. Having a broad mix of motivations strengthens the ecology, enhancing diversity.
We don’t offer ready-made solutions or prescribed courses of action that guarantee success, rather we work on knitting together a supportive community of interest, providing the ingredients that help creative people realise their own potential and ambitions. We have an open door principle. We support empowerment through inclusivity and a focus on process. Self-organisation and a DIY ethos permeate every aspect of IM e.g. Islington Mill Art Academy, an experiment in peer-led education. We support practices that ‘don’t fit’ into formal criteria, such as The Wall, a long-term participatory work by American artist Jen Wu, who relocated to Salford from London after a 3 month residency at CFCCA. We responded to Jen’s ambitious proposal to dismantle, move and rebuild an 8m wall in a community action inspired by land art practices and local histories of Mancunian rave and regeneration. Following 18 months of planning and negotiations, the work has entered its first phase.
Jen Wu, ‘The Wall’ first stage of work in progress, 2013
“The Wall is a work shaped in very large part by conversations and experiences I’d had at Islington Mill. Amidst Salford’s rapidly changing landscape, it was a proposition– to move a wall brick by brick as a manual collective action. I never envisioned anyone would even entertain the idea as possible, much less want to help make it exist. Islington Mill said ‘yes.’ It was no less than the beginning of my emergence into my full potential as an artist. Furthermore, from the Mill’s initial commitment I’ve been able to gain the consequent support of CFCCA, Henry Moore Foundation and Arts Council England, as well as from Salford City Council and Urban Vision.”
Jen Wu, Visual Artist, 2013 25
â€œThe unwavering trust that the directors and staff at Islington Mill have in new and unknown practitioners is nothing short of extraordinary - a trait that undeniably needs to be treasured and maintained to preserve this platform for future emerging artists.â€?
Jeni Holt Wright Curator
A M BI T IO N An economy of trust builds confidence through participation and shared responsibility.
Artists are motivated, that’s why they approach us with their ideas and requests. We respond to their needs, supporting them to experiment, hone their craft and achieve goals. Our ecology and extensive network enables people to take opportunities, forge connections and be ambitious. This ambition may translate as refining skills and practice, presenting work, exploring ideas or performing.
We offer flexible spaces that can be adapted for living or working or both, allowing artists the time and economic freedom to develop their ideas. The Ting Tings wrote and recorded their debut album ‘We Started Nothing’ at Islington Mill during a 4 year residence, selling 3.5 million records worldwide, reached number 1 in the UK and earning the duo an Ivor Novello Songwriting award. We offer adaptable spaces and structures which support creative ambition. Industrial sized spaces encourage artists to explore large scale work. Maurice Carlin’s Regent Trading Estate, a 3 month long performance involved the analogue ‘scanning’ of an 8000 sqft warehouse in over 400 CMYK relief prints, published live via a webstream and resulting in international press coverage.
The Ting Tings at Islington Mill, 2007
“It helped us understand art, our art and how to feel much more comfortable around it. Undoubtedly it gave us confidence to expose our work that otherwise may have gone un-noticed. We were able to manipulate our space to suit our then current needs be it writing, rehearsing, recording or performing. We were able to indulge into art we never thought we could be a part of. We know how very hard it is to ‘get it done’ and so often many great ideas or intensions are left meandering because of the issue of logistics, facilities or lack of commitment and confidence. For the first time in our creative lives it felt like everything was possible and not just in our minds.”
Katie White, & Jules De Martino, 2013 28
Maurice Carlin - Performance Publishing: Regent Trading Estate., June - Sept 2013
“This practice is considerate of how one experiences and engages with contemporary art in our ever-expanding global world. Performance Publishing, 2013 explores the space between print, place and performance by examining the artist’s process of making and the act of publication, respectively, as both public endeavors.”
Danielle Rago, Domus Italy, Oct 2013 “This new body of work demonstrates Carlin’s continued interest in social and public spaces. The act of publishing remains one of Carlin’s points of entry into a wider dialogue of contemporary art practice.”
Carol Huston, Frieze Magazine, March 2013 29
Letter of support from The Ting Tings 30
“Islington Mill is a space and community that has become increasingly influential over the last decade, and from which Manchester’s artists and musicians of the future will no doubt emerge.”
Jeremy Deller Turner Prize Winning Artist
I N T E R N AT IO N A L I S M Islington Mill is an international network of artists doers and thinkers. Our reputation at home and abroad rests on our ability to innovate, experiment and thrive. This attracts local, national and international artists to a vibrant, global mix of creative people. As an international venue we provide local audiences with opportunities to experience a range of alternative, marginal and experimental voices from around the world, enriching the regionâ€™s cultural landscape and enabling local artists to access the resources of our growing global network. IM is outward facing, we appreciate the value of ideas coming into the ecology and we know that our artists have the potential to thrive through working abroad. Our international network operates as a valuable resource; a dynamic web of reciprocal relationships that reach across the globe. As a resource we support artists to be ambitious and to identify partners in other countries who can facilitate exchanges. When artists go out from The Mill they become ambassadors, building links that form lasting relationships, such as Tom Watson, former IM tenant who initiated partnership with Flux Factory. These relationships are then carried forward to the benefit of a new generation of artists. We use digital infrastructures and group residencies to continue active working relationships around the world such as live streaming Volkov Commanders/Rachel Goodyear residency from Flux Factory to IM. Our residency/B&B model is designed specifically to enhance and encourage international exchange, enabling artists to meet and form links with peers working in different ways from around the world. We provide the opportunity for local artists to live and work alongside high calibre artists from around the world. This experience enriches both parties, and contributes to the ecology of Islington Mill by ensuring a constant flow of new people and ideas, such as Potluck Dinner, introduced to the Mill by Flux Factory residents, Alison Ward and Shane Heinemeier. 32
Volkov Commanders - Joint residency with Rachel Goodyear at Flux Factory, NYC October 2013
“Through our joint residency with Rachel Goodyear in NY, Islington Mill instigated a new relationship that gave us the time and space to work together and get to know each other personally. Working and living in the same space as an established artist such as Rachel was a unique and inspiring situation for us to be in. We were given an intimate insight into her working practice, methodology, and especially her approach to working with her surroundings. We’d like to think that we influenced Rachel too, encouraging her when she said she had been thinking about revisiting some of her early performance work and incorporating it into her current practice.”
Volkov Commanders, 2013 33
‘Psychic Rhythm Abduction’, CHERYL performance at IM, 2013
“Ever since our first visit and residency here 2 years ago, we find ourselves returning time and again to reconnect with peers, collaborators, and now true friends for artistic collaboration and invaluable community support and resources. Our access to the Mill and its resources and community have allowed us to test out and achieve some of our biggest projects to date. Many of our projects within the last year have incorporated ideas, resources and more often than not, artists and friends we met during our time at the Mill, both in Manchester, at various venues and residencies across Europe and most recently in NYC. The Mill has changed our lives, artistically, professionally, and personally, in so many resonant ways that we could never have imagined and we are forever grateful and indebted to it - the people, the space, and its general ethos are an integral part to where and who we are now.”
Stina Puotinen, CHERYL, 2013 34
Within Islington Millâ€™s programme 33% of the artists showcased are international, 17% national and 50% are based locally. IM has showcased 1485 international artists over 380 events in the past 3 years; 124 of these events had an international focus or headline artist.
“The unique atmosphere of the mill naturally facilitates an exchange of ideas. It’s truly a magical place where anything seems possible. It’s also rare - there is nothing like it in New York, or even London. We are grateful to have been a part of it.”
CHERYL Performance Collective, NYC, 2012
C O L L A B O R AT IO N Encounters with other artists, new experiences and discussion with peers are vehicles that trigger creative development and move practice forward.
IM provides artists with a fluid, multi-disciplinary community and international network that thrives on collaboration. Itâ€™s unique mix of intimate domestic spaces, studios, galleries and 24 hour events venue generates constant opportunities for connections and productive exchange.
Boundaries between practice are regularly crossed at the Mill leading to unexpected directions and outcomes for our artists work. Our community includes screen-printers, photographers, website designers, sound design and build, 3D printers and other useful skills, providing artists with a huge array of on-site resources and know-how. Recognising the value of the unexpected â€“ we open minds by placing new and diverse approaches within easy reach i.e. in the same building as they already work or live. Through situating our glass fronted gallery/residency studio, directly adjacent to our venue space, our programme constantly aligns live music, visual arts/performance and discussion based events alongside each other meaning that our visitors experience artists and artworks that they hadnâ€™t expected, leading to a richer and more diverse experience of the arts. Working with our collaborators, associates and arts organisations in the region and overseas, we strengthen existing relationships and forge new partnerships. Our B&B creates a relaxed and informal environment for artists-in-residence to meet inquisitive members of the public who bring their own experiences and skill.
Alistair McClymont ‘You and the room’ created in collaboration with IM tenants Herbal Sessions & Dub Smugglers, a collective specialising in sound-system design, during a 2 month residency in 2013
“My residency at Islington Mill was an invaluable period of time in which I was able to explore new ideas and develop my career in an open structured and creative environment. Due to the wide range of creative people at the Mill and their willingness to help and be involved in projects I was able to pursue a complex project that I had considered for years but had not yet found the skills and expertise to execute until I met and began discussing possibilities with John and Andy from Herbal Sessions. That relationship spanning over several months, enabled me to achieve an outcome I didn’t think possible before I arrived.”
Alistair McClymont, 2013 38
IM residents GNOD met producer & synth builder Sam Weaver through IM resident Neil Robbins which led to Sam acquiring a studio at the Mill and collaborating with GNOD at their club night, Gesamtkunstwerk 7
“Whether its 200 people dancing like there’s no tomorrow in the venue, 2 people pondering a piece of contemporary art, heaving installations up the stairs or simply watering the plants in the courtyard, I have been lucky enough to be nourished, and witness the nourishment of others, from all over the world in one of the few places in the UK where prejudice and judgements are but a thing of the past.”
Paddy Shine, GNOD, 2013
â€œThe Mill became a kind of collaborator on our project. We met residents who ended up performing a live show in our installation. Other folks pointed us to local resources... Islington Mill is an incredibly industrious hive of culture production. It would have been hard to create our project without them...â€?
Jeff Stark Artist and Editor of Nonsense NYC
E D U CAT IO N , PE E R - L E A R N I N G & AC C E S S I B L E PR AC T IC E At Islington Mill education is about more than the transfer of knowledge and skills - it’s about empowering people to discover their potential and realise opportunity. The majority of our relationships and programming develop directly from approaches initiated by artists themselves. Our ability to say “Yes”, to support the potential of ideas and practices which are not yet fully formed, provides young and early career artists with opportunities to experiment, test ideas and explore their own potential. Artists seeking to progress beyond formal education need access to resources like affordable space and a supportive community. Our flexible, open space policies enable artists to take the first steps, and provide pathways that sustain continuous professional development. We offer a rich resource for opportunity and practice-based learning. Our international, enterprising and multi-disciplinary community opens-up possibilities for exploration, collaboration and the benefits of a diverse network. The current economic climate can make it difficult for artists to develop and flourish. We strive to develop flexible solutions that support access and opportunity for all. We organise collective residencies where IM artists have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from exposure to new cultures, communities and ideas, such as 2013 collective residency with CANVAS, Ibiza. Our 24hr premises, allow artists to maximise their available time and where necessary immerse themselves in their practice. We offer studio discounts, encourage skill-swapping and allow short term use of larger spaces when available, to enable artists to continue to develop through lean economic periods. Islington Mill Art Academy develops flexible structures such as weekend and evening critiques, discussions and ‘making’ sessions for artists struggling to develop their practice alongside full-time day jobs. Artists have been supported to extend their creativity into their work context, including recent innovative projects by members working within the NHS and the BBC. 41
Frieze, New Schools feature - interview with Islington Mill Art Academy, Issue 149, Sept 2012
“We are self-funded – each person supports themselves through paying for a studio space and contributing to research trips and residencies. We have invaluable support from individual artists and organizations. Many people have become involved on the basis of taking part in a mutual exchange of learning.”
Maurice Carlin and Lauren Velvick interviewed in Frieze “Islington Mill Art Academy in Salford was set up in 2007 by a group of local art foundation students who decided a traditional BA would not prepare them for life beyond education.”
David Batty, The Guardian, 21st Oct 2013 42
30 IM artists, associates and staff collaborating in a joint 2 week residency at CANVAS, Ibiza
â€œWe joined the artists based at the Mill on a two week residency in Ibiza where we curated a programme with solely the artists on the residency and the musicians and filmmakers we met whilst there. Having these two weeks of creative freedom to focus purely on Video Jam was pivotal to our development as a collective. We bounced off the creative and positive energy of the Mill artists on the residency and the relationships and friendships formed whilst in Ibiza have been long lasting and moved us forward in a way we never anticipated.â€?
Shereen Perera, Video Jam 43
“They have social as well as cultural ambition, are serious about providing opportunities for young people in the area. It’s a nidus of youth unemployment; indeed, across the piece, Salford is now the hardest place in the country to get a job. So to have understanding, creative, visionary people who are prepared to share and spread those qualities could not be more important.”
Zoe Williams The Guardian, 2013
COMMUNITY & WELLBEING PART: 1 Investing in a healthy community is fundamental to Islington Mill.
Peer-learning strengthens the bonds between people; fostering trust and a sense of common endeavour within a fluid, diverse community. IM works on knitting together a supportive community of interests where artists gain the confidence to take risks, fail, and try again. People make art for many reasons. IM has a broad mix of motivations, and this adds to diversity, strengthening our ecology. A supportive and therefore healthy community enhances wellbeing and motivation.
The constant critical glare of centres like London and New York can have a detrimental effect on artists practice, sense of wellbeing and personal relationships. We believe that young and emerging artists benefit from the sense of community and practical support they find at Islington Mill. Our emphasis on peer-learning, participation and â€˜kitchen tableâ€™ gatherings promotes equity and relationship building. A supportive community, where trust and belief are demonstrated helps to ignite self-belief and the confidence to experiment. For IM, community is the crucible where excellence can flourish. We provide regular social situations where locals and visitors can meet, to share food, knowledge and ideas.
Potluck Dinner, monthly dinner where local and international artists meet to share food
â€œPotluck is an ideal opportunity for introducing my invited artists to a wider and more diverse group, as it creates a relaxed venue where artists can open up dialogues that are not possible in the hectic environment of a preview or exhibition opening. Another reason why Potluck is very important to me is the democratic nature of the event. Everyone sits together in the space and there is no sense of hierarchy between those who attend. The artists who I bring with me are newcomers, usually not knowing anyone in the local scene and they are made to feel very welcome.â€?
Ju Underwood Director of residency space Art Funkl, 2013 46
Filipino artist David Medalla, in conversation over breakfast at Islington Mill B&Bâ€™s Kitchen Table during a month long residency stay in 2012
COMMUNITY & WELLBEING PART: 2 Our community operates as a â€˜nodeâ€™ of interchange and therefore stretches beyond the walls of The Mill.
Relationships and collaborations reach-out into the local neighbourhood, the region and beyond. For us, this underscores the importance of believing in our neighbourhood, its potential and ambition. A strong, supportive and therefore healthy community enhances wellbeing and motivation, which attracts talented people who are vital to the future growth of the region. Through working with our neighbours on public space projects, such as Sounds From the Other City, we recognise that art has the potential to inspire and enrich lives. Living and working in Salford, nurturing an organisation where excellence and ambition can flourish, we have the potential to contribute to a broader sense of community and wellbeing.
Sounds From the Other City, now one of Greater Manchester’s largest festival events, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014. The event is a key driver animating the Chapel St area and generating positive press and pr for the area
“For just shy of a decade Salford has been providing Manchester with its best music festival.”
Manchester Wire, 2013 “An all-day event that triumphs in invention, discovery and a hearty dose of community spirit.“
The Quietus, 2013 49
â€œIslington Mill is an important part of our local community and has helped make our community more vibrant. The Mill has encouraged local artists and supported local businesses. They have brought in additional elements to our community which help to make it the rich cultural mix that it is today.â€?
Rev. Andy Salmon St Phillips & St Stephens Church, Salford, 2013
E N R IC H I N G O U R S TA K E H O L D E R S , DELIVERING GROWTH PART: 1 Structures and spaces emerge in response to the needs of our key stakeholders. The ability to respond to evolving needs and embrace the unexpected is a key attraction. Our community of stakeholders develops from the diverse, fluid population of artists and doers associated with IM. This constant flow of artists, entrepreneurs, performers and visitors connect us with a network of local, national and international organisations. Attracted by the uniqueness of what we offer, our associates and partner organisations recognise that IM not only enriches what they do, but makes it possible for them to do more. We deliver essential support to partner organisations across the region; filling crucial gaps in existing provision. IM has a range and combination of resources unmatched in the North; IM is a live building, a 24 hour building; as people arrive others are leaving but all are here to do something. It is this culture which is invaluable to all our stakeholders as it cannot be found anywhere else. We are home to two ACE NPOâ€™s, Quarantine and Psappha, both of whom have utilised other spaces in the building for projects and public events. Quarantine have been tenants for 6 years, employ 4 people and work with 35 other sub-contractors and freelancers each year. We also support NPOâ€™s, hosting artists for CFCCA, Whitworth Gallery and festivals such as AND, FutureEverything and Manchester Science Festival who lack a dedicated space. IM regularly hosts artists for partner organisations, providing their invited artists with a microcosm of the entire city in one place. In this way we provide a specific role in connecting larger arts organisations with the grassroots across the sector and enable visitors to experience the breadth of the city quickly while also enabling them to achieve the objectives that they came here to realise. The result is a better and more connected network for everyone and a positive impression of the city as a whole. We enrich the city as a destination and make it a viable place for artists to stay and develop their work. 51
Enkhbold Togmidshiirev building a mongolian ‘Ger’ in the courtyard at Islington Mill
“We were approached by Manchester Museum and International 3 to bring Mongolian artist Enkhbold Togmidshiirev to Manchester for the Asia Triennial festival, 2011. Enkhbold’s work involves building and living in a ger (a traditional mongolian home), something which wasn’t possible at Manchester Museum or the International 3. We were able to give audiences first hand interaction with Enkhbold and his work during day and evening times throughout his residency.”
Shereen Perera, Islington Mill Visual Arts Co-ordinator
Victoria Udondian, Aso Ikele, Whitworth Art Gallery, 2012
“We worked with Whitworth Art Gallery to bring Nigerian artist Victoria Udondian to Manchester to make a large-scale textile work for a major show of contemporary West African art as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Victoria required large workspace with 24 hour access in order to achieve such an ambitious work in a short time-frame, which was unavailable at the Whitworth. Because of our flexible workspace with on-site accommodation and access to a resourceful community, Victoria was able to exceed her expectations for the work, while having time to connect with local artists and artists in residence from Australia and the USA also staying at the mill’s B&B.”
Rivca Burns, Programme Producer, Islington Mill “Engaging with the Mill’s studio tenants and artists provided further value to Victoria’s residency experience, giving her ready-made access to the city’s creative community and allowing for a source of critique into her work as it was being made.“
Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of Whitworth Art Gallery & Manchester City Gallerie 53
E N R IC H I N G O U R S TA K E H O L D E R S , DELIVERING GROWTH PART: 2 We enable people to do more and to capitalise on opportunities; adding value to the work of other projects. Our record in delivering sustainable growth raises the bar of what’s possible, for artists based in Salford and for the cultural landscape of the region. Supportive environments and greater connectivity enables the region as a whole to reposition itself, as a growing, dynamic cultural economy capable of attracting and sustaining talent. We have developed close links with our key local HEI stakeholder University of Salford, hosting 77 events, lectures, talks since 2010. In addition to this numerous Mill tenants and associates lecture and take part in University courses and in return University staff contribute to the advisory board and vision of IMAC. These years of relationship building provide firm foundations for the long term partnership that will develop through this capital bid. Our networked and collaborative atmosphere enables people to form connections and share work and skills, often pitching together for work or making new introductions, such as photographer Andrew Brooks & Raw Design who collaboratively developed work for the BBC Philharmonic, digital artists Soup Collective and production company Graham English who worked together for Imperial War Museum. As our tenants’ careers grow we are able to offer them new spaces to develop and expand – we offer studio spaces between 200sqft – 500sqft. Rachel Wood started Woodwork Music at Islington Mill five years ago as a sole trader, she now employs a team of 5 people. Raw Design Studio was started by new graduates Steve Taylor and Rob Watson in a small studio spaces at the Mill 5 years ago, the company has moved 3 times within the building and now leases the largest space in the building, the 2000 sqft Engine House building and employs 8 people, working with major clients including the NHS, Channel 4 and the Football Association and gaining recognition with numerous awards including AHCM awards and Roses Design Awards. 54
Raw Design: moved from a small studio 6 years ago to the 2000 sqft Engine House building, now employing 8 people
“Having the Mill as our base has been crucial to the development of our business, we’ve stayed here for almost 7 years because of the special atmosphere of the place, it’s energy and it’s openness to new ideas make it a brilliant creative community to be part of. The creative buzz of the building makes it a unique place to hold our meetings whilst enabling our business to generate economic benefit to the area.”
Rob Watson, Creative Director, Raw Design, 2013
Some of Islington Millâ€™s partners
â€œIslington Mill is an experimentation ground for new ideas contributing greatly to the arts ecology by being a first place of call for artists to test out their ideas and being one of very few places where artists, musicians, designers and thinkers can congregate and where collaboration can happen organically.â€?
Dr Maria Balshaw Director of Whitworth Art Gallery & Manchester City Galleries
TA L E N T R E T E N T IO N & R E G E N E R AT IO N PART: 1 We inspire pride in a neighborhood which is searching for a sense of belief in whatâ€™s possible. The Chapel St area, once the heart of Salford, has been in decline since the 1970s. There have been 2 regeneration strategies which have moved forward parts of the profile but the lack of critical mass has stalled progress. Salford is a stoneâ€™s throw from Manchester city centre, but the psychological barriers of the river and ring road, coupled with the burgeoning development opportunities within Manchester means that initiatives and investment have been slower here. However, Salford has a world class university and has received a significant boost by the BBC move to Media City. IM adds to the objective and work of these organisations. We sit strategically between these two spikes of activity and demonstrate their positive spill-over as IM artists and businesses develop projects and working relationships with these hubs in the heart of Chapel St. We provide space and opportunities for new graduates to hone their craft and develop their practice. The main demographic of our tenants and audience are young people, aged 18-30. We are inundated by students wanting to film or photograph at The Mill, or to stage music, performance and film screening events. 50% of our programme showcases local talent. Many of our residents either studied at or now work within and across the local FE and higher education sector. Since April 2011 we have supplied space for 92 new businesses. There are currently 44 businesses housed at Islington Mill, 20 of which have been here since before 2011. We encourage others to see Salford as a distinct and viable place to do business; DR.ME and Textbook Studio moved to Salford from Manchesterâ€™s Hotspur House. 58
Sara Nesteruk, graphics for BBC TV coverage of the World Championships in Moscow, 2013 inspired by Vladimir Propp’s ideas of the basic components of fairytales and Soviet children’s books from the 1920’s and 30’s
“Whilst deciding whether to relocate to Salford from London with the BBC, Islington Mill played a key part in my decision to move and has been an important part of my creative life since. The Mill feels truely ‘Northern’, but has the same sense of ambition and quality engagement that is often found in arts organisations in London. In 2012 I joined Islington Mill Art Academy. The regular meetings and conversations have led to some focused and important shifts in my practice. One of the projects that has come about as a result is a new research project at BBC Sport. The project has been well received and has the potential to impact on the visual work that is being produced across the department.”
Sara Nesteruk, Motion Graphics & Illustrator 2013 59
TA L E N T R E T E N T IO N & R E G E N E R AT IO N PART: 2 We consistently raise the profile of the area and inspire other local venues to realise their own potential. Communities experiencing the protracted process of regeneration can become destabilised by the sense of constant transition. Developments at IM over the past 14 years signal its commitment to the long-haul; we utilise an existing landmark building and developments have occurred organically, in tandem with the cultural needs of the area. We animate our neighbourhood, drawing significant visitors to the 15th most deprived ward in the UK. Through our unique and strongly international programme we satisfy the ambition of artists and the hunger of audiences.
IMâ€™s artists generate positive media coverage of Salford, from music listings through to travel, design and niche interest; its local, national and international. Our successful artists with significant international profiles, like the Ting Tings, go out into the world stating that they are from Salford, recognising that the goodwill and uniqueness of Islington Mill adds to their ability to market themselves. Our inclusive, open door policy provides access to the activities that underlie this press coverage. Our events programme attracts, on average, 15,000 visitors to Salford each year. Sounds From the Other City, started through the support and base of Islington Mill. It is now one of the regionâ€™s largest music festivals; attracting 2000 people per year, providing an injection of cash for businesses, projects and venues in the area. We make culture visible on Chapel St.
The Ting Tings featured on the front page of Manchester Evening News, 2008
“Since it opened, Islington Mill has provided a stage, a community and sometimes a literal home for numerous local bands... By the mid 90’s, the Hacienda was a serious drug den and was shut down in 1997. Today the musical heartbeat of the city might just be Islington Mill.”
Chaly Wilder, New York Times, 2011 62
Islington Mill B&B and Sounds from the Other City in Regional and National press features
“Chapel Street, in Salford, doesn’t figure on many tourists’ itineraries. In fact, it may only be a 10-minute walk from Manchester city centre, but it isn’t somewhere that Mancunians tend to linger, either. Salford is (unfairly) seen by many as rough, tough and best avoided, and for years there was little to see here. Look beyond the abandoned buildings and demolition work, however, wander between the tower blocks and into the adjacent industrial estates, and you will find a remarkable network of artists’ studios, workshops and unusual gig venues. Central to all this is Islington Mill. There are all manner of artists working here, day and night, in myriad different spaces. Screenprinting workshop one69a, for instance, is a grimy, inky hive of energy and colour, while upstairs Soup Collective plans out music videos for Elbow and Doves in a relatively serene top-floor office. For creative souls keen to dive in and make connections, Islington Mill’s B&B is a great place to stay.”
Tony Naylor, The Guardian, 2011
IMAC Board would like to thank:Kelly Loughlin - Text Rachel Newsome - Text Matteo Giri - Graphics and Layout (Student Placement from ‘Accademia di Belle Arti’ Macerata Italy) December 2013