Action Space Inflatable

On 14 and 15 October CCW Graduate School and Chelsea College of Arts will be hosting Action Space Inflatable. The inflatable is a re-versioning of pneumatic structures built by Action Space in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Over two days members from Action Space, Inter-Action and Artist Placement Group (APG) among others, will explore the relevance of community arts programmes of the ‘70s and ‘80s to contemporary artistic practices. Through workshops, performance, a walking tour, film screenings and discussion, this event will open up questions about art as a democratic tool, educational medium and instigator of social change. The Action Space Inflatable structure has been specially commissioned as part of an experimental film project by filmmaker, Huw Wahl. This two-day event marks the first stage of the UK tour of the inflatable and is presented by CCW Graduate School as part of Chelsea College of Arts’ celebration of ten years of creative activity at Millbank.

On Wednesday 14 October, founding member of Action Space, Ken Turner, will deliver a performative lecture; CCW Research Fellow Mo Throp invites you to participate in the Inter-Action Trust Games Method session, as well as a programme of archival footage from Action Space, Inter-Action Trust and Artist Placement Group (APG) projects will be screened inside the inflatable. The day will close with a panel discussion on Socially engaged practices of the 1970s and their relevance today, chaired by Marsha Bradfield and including Joshua Y’Barbo, James Lander, Barbara Steveni, Mo Throp and Ken Turner.

On Thursday 15 October artist Barbara Steveni, of APG, and Jo Melvin invite you on their Walking Tour from Manresa Road  – site of the original Chelsea School of Art – towards the current Millbank venue. The day concludes with a conversation between Barbara and Brian Chalkley focusing on APG’s ‘Not Knowing’ in relation to Chalkley’s pedagogical methods for teaching on the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Arts. The conversation will be facilitated by Jo Melvin.

Mo Throp spent five years in the 1970’s as a live-work member of Inter-Action, a community arts organisation which became one of the UK’s best known and most influential cultural and social enterprises. Its projects included the Almost Free Theatre in the West End (notable seasons and events included London’s first Black Power, Gay and Women’s theatre seasons), the Dogg’s Troupe – a street theatre group, the Fun Art Bus, the Media Van, a city farm, a publishing unit and one of London’s first Free Schools. ‘My time with this organisation has certainly influenced my pedagogical approach as a teacher of Fine Art students and my relation to art practice and my work with the Subjectivity & Feminisms Research group at Chelsea.

Recently, I came into contact with Huw Wahl who has been researching another such organisation from this period: Action Space. He has re-built a prototype of one of their huge inflatables and proposed to bring it to Chelsea, inviting us to organise a programme of events around the Community Arts movement of the late 1960s. This is therefore a great opportunity to ask how such projects resonate now in relation to the social turn in contemporary practice. Our programme of events addresses the current resurgence of interest in socially engaged artistic practices and hopes to address the challenge to conventional modes of artistic production and consumption under late capitalism.’

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