The Portland Inn Project is a creative arts project in partnership with The Portland Street Community, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Appetite, AirSpace Gallery and My Community Matters, for a community in Stoke-on-Trent, where derelict properties were sold for £1 with the view of changing the fortunes of the area.
AirSpace Gallery is excited to host this special presentation: an exhibition of the works and activities that have taken place to date, featuring a new installation of The Portland Pigeons, and looks forward to the community joining us to celebrate what has already happened and start the planning for what’s next.
Over the last 4 years, artists Anna Francis and Rebecca Davies have built the project to a point where local and national attention has been alerted to this small but wonderful community and its challenges. The Project has recently secured the asset transfer of a disused pub to the community, to be developed into a creative community building. Drawing on examples of successful, creative, artist and community led development projects from across the UK, the approach is to involve the area’s existing and new community to design and deliver the future of this community asset, through an engaging public art programme.
While the project partners work in the background to secure the funds needed to renovate the building, there is also a regular programme to involve the community in this exciting project.
During the Summer 2018, The Portland Inn Project worked with Architects Baxendale, (who recently delivered the Scottish Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennial baxendale-dco.com
) to co-build a temporary space with the community, and then to deliver a summer-long programme of activity which reclaimed the land in front of the pub building for community use, animated the area with high quality events and activities and involved the community in the next stages of the development project.
This exhibition documents the development of the Portland Inn Project to date and showcases how this ground breaking project has:
• engaged local people in creative decision making about their area, and about the future of the pub, via creative participatory methods, with a focus around architecture and community development.
• delivered a strong programme of artistic and cultural activity which activates the area, and can be accessed by local families and others.
• delivered a high quality art programme, bringing national and international practitioners to work with a community in Stoke-on-Trent
• engaged local stakeholders, and key potential investors/supporters of the project in shaping the future of the pub.
• Prototyped new products, to be developed alongside the building, for the social enterprise aspect of the project.
• Secured the asset transfer of the Pub Building for the community.
Within the exhibition there will be hands-on workshops, a special ‘Portland Social’ Curry and Clay night and a chance to hear from artists Anna Francis and Rebecca Davies, as they deliver an artist talk session about the project. The exhibition includes the proposed architectural plans for the Portland Inn, developed by architect Godson Egbo, in collaboration with the community of Portland Street.
The project is funded by Arts Council England and the Stoke City Council Community Investment Fund, with individual artist support funding from The Aziz Foundation.
Visit the project blog at:
For more information please contact
Anna Francis firstname.lastname@example.org
The Portland Inn Project Events
Friday 26th October
Saturday 27th October
Portland St Community Lunch
Pigeon Factory Drop In
Hands On workshop
Saturday 3rd November
The Artist Soup Kitchen
In this event for artists, Rebecca Davies and Anna Francis will unpick some of the challenges of representing participatory social projects in places of change. This event will be of interest to artists and creative practitioners working with people, as well as artists working in participatory contexts. (Book your ticket HERE
Clay and Curry Night.
Anna Francis is an artist and researcher whose practice aims to rethink city resources, through participatory art interventions.
She creates situations for herself, the public and other artists to explore places differently: often experimenting with leading and instruction by creating manuals, kits or leading guided tours. In recent years the interventions which Anna has worked on focus on the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and use an action research process to recognise untapped resources, plan responses to site, take action to change the way the site is viewed, and potentially, make changes, which can be temporary and sometimes permanent. Through this, Anna aims to gain an understanding of the role of artists and arts organisations in the development of places.
Anna is Associate Professor of Fine Art and Social Practice at Staffordshire University.
Rebecca Davies is an artist with an embedded participatory practice that involves illustration, performance and event. She graduated from RCA in 2010, receiving the Sheila Robinson Prize for Drawing. In 2013 she was made an Artsadmin Associate Artist. She has run outreach and participation programmes with Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary, South London Gallery.
Rebecca has collaborated with Eva Sajovic for 8 years in Elephant and Castle. They started The People's Bureau, collaborating with organisations such as the Latin American Workers Association, LCC, Siobhan Davies Dance and Create London. The People's Bureau was recently made an associate of the Tate Exchange programme. Rebecca and Eva's film Unearthing Elephant, made with writer Sarah Butler received the AHRC film award for Research in film 2017.
Her current project, The Oasis Social Club, was selected to represent Great Britain during the Mons European Capital of Culture 2015 and completed a tour of Stoke On Trent, Preston and Hull, funded by Art Council England.