Thought for All, by John Dummett, Art Gene Gallery
John Dummett creates artwork inside a truely public ‘realm’; the research residency selection panel were interested in his politically and socially proactive practice, producing his works through the direct engagement of communities in thought, enquiry and making. John’s work at Art Gene made a significant contribution in the evolution of Art Gene’s methodology and the broadening of our research base through extended collaborations and partnerships.
‘John looked at a number of common templates (or ‘stages’) for dialogue; a conference hall, a board meeting, a press conference and an informal talk over a coffee…to create situations or processes in which the public actively participates as author, context and witness.’
Art Gene’s continuing practice engages, captures and generates ideas from within communities which inform our projects in the regeneration of the social, natural and built environment. One such ‘stage’ is a Cafe – The Design Cafe, which features a free open-door menu of homecooked food, discussion, bus trips, tours, walks and talks addressing diverse subject matter from architecture to allotments and industry to nature. Design Cafe uncovers hidden histories and gives form to need through supporting a process of enquiry and providing information through specialist speakers and guides who assist in drawing out and giving form to deliverable sustainable projects.
Image above: John preparing for a public participation event with Barrow Residents
Artist in Residence
During his residency at Art Gene, John Dummett worked with how discussion and communication are affected by the social and architectural context in which they occur and to what degree this context can ‘script’ what and how things are said and how it is seen or heard by a wider public. To begin with John looked at a number of common templates for dialogue; a conference hall, a board meeting, a press conference and an informal talk over a coffee. Each of these provides, in the theatrical sense, a stage, upon which hierarchies and questions of trust and belief are played out. The residency process developed this theatrical ‘stage’ with its props and scripts, as a cumulative installation comprised of mock ups of these sites and situations.
In his recent projects John has focused on site-responsive projects for rural, urban and gallery contexts and looked at the actualities and memories of public and civic space, and how these are contested by different economic, political and social interests. A key concern for his work is to question and re-evaluate the relationship between the audience and the artist/artwork, and to create situations or processes in which the public actively participates as author, context and witness.
Image below: making Thought for All with Barrow Art Students