(Left - Kirsty, Right - Adrienne. "It's a beautiful portrait drawn for us by a 9 year old boy in Worcester called Lucas")
Who are you and what do you do?
Frilly are Kirsty Hillyer and Adrienne Frances.
We're a participatory arts partnership... but that doesn't exactly explain what we do. At the moment we have a number of projects on the go including:
- PiCL projects (Stoke's Creative Partnerships branch) - creating an indoor and an outdoor learning environment using recycled materials and enabling children and young people to design the space and create elements within it.
- A project involving multiple partners from Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire where we're working with young people to create artworks which will be exhibited in outdoor locations exploring identity and linking in to Arts Award.
- We're just coming to the end of a pilot project for Birmingham City Council signposting young people to creative activities they can get involved in across the city.
- We've just been selected as participatory artists to deliver a project in Bilston - hurray! Back on home turf!
Alongside project work, we're constantly chasing our tails to apply for more projects across the Midlands and beyond, as well as trying to fit in more strategic planning for the future to ensure the sustainability of our current practice. As we receive no core funding from either Arts Council or anywhere else it means we need to be super proactive in applying for work and we always have to be thinking very carefully of budgets and finances.
What was your route into this job?
Our routes were fairly different. I [Adrienne] come from an artist background - did a degree at NUCA in Visual Studies - began an MA but relocated back to the midlands before completing it. Throughout I pursued paid and voluntary work in community/participatory arts as that's where my heart has always been. Since coming back to the Midlands I've worked with a range of organisations including Wolverhampton Arts & Museums, Staffordshire Arts & Museums, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Newhampton Arts Centre and most recently Multistory where I met Kirsty.
Kirsty studied Art History in Warwick and shortly after graduating worked for The Public. When they went through a process of administration Kirsty was kept on as part of the new team which became Multistory and became Creative Learning Manager in charge of a range of large scale projects and programmes of work.
Last year we were made redundant from Multistory, along with the rest of the artist/delivery team. We were determined to continue with the work we'd been involved in, and knew we worked well together so created Frilly last April and have been reasonably busy ever since!
What companies/ organisations are doing really interesting things at the moment?
We've a big soft spot for the Education team at Ikon - the work they've been doing with young people as part of their IYP programme is especially exciting and we can't wait to see the unveiling of their boat! (yes, we're being deliberately elusive here, but it's not our announcement to make!)
Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford continue to have interesting inspiring exhibitions in a relatively small space which seem to fall outside of a lot of people's radars - perhaps simply because of where they are? They have a fab little shop selling the work of independent makers as well.
We think Mudlark do interesting surprising curious things with technology.
The possible development of WMPAF could prove to be exciting and challenging for all involved!
Aside from this, we feel that the whole arts scene has been holding it's breath for the past few months (maybe even a year) because of all of the cuts etc. looming on the horizon. As a result, the sector has been adrift in a sea of uncertainty which has clearly impacted on the scale and scope of projects being delivered by other organisations.
Which tools of the trade could you not do without?
Macs, email, Canon DSLRs, brown gummed tape, the internet, scarf4art.co.uk, iphones, Berocca, coffee, Bubba the Vauxhall Agila, carbon paper, wire, PVA glue, Poundland...erm, the list goes on!
It's rare we duplicate the same project/ activity so materials etc. change every time - but we have a passion for using recycled materials (hence scarf4art.co.uk) and using things that are already at the venue/ location - eg. we transformed a classroom in Stoke but instead of throwing old furniture away we converted it into shiny new things using a variety of methods including covering/ butchering/ repurposing etc.
We DEFINITELY couldn't cope without our iphones, email, computers and coffee. And Berocca!
(without wanting to refer to him as a 'tool' we also couldn't do without Lee Allen of - who is on hand (because of sharing an office with us) most of the time to reality-check our crazy ideas, point us in the direction of shiny exciting things, document some of our projects when we're at a loose end, and when all else fails, his DIY building skills are second to none!)
What events might we catch you at?
As we're interested primarily in participatory work, we spotted this festival happening over in America: figmentproject.org - and think it looks intriguing and potentially exciting - although this year we may have to give it a miss but make it a priority to see (or take part in!) it the following year.
Kirsty has a fondness for all things ATP - particularly because of her links with Clutter Magazine.
Adrienne is in Yorkshire regularly to visit YSP.co.uk and their amazing exhibitions and craft workshops... but also likes to rummage through other people's tat so can be found at car boot sales, antique fairs, and all things DIY/crafty eg. Bust Craftacular London, and she's SUPEREXCITED about the Renegade Craft Fair coming to the UK for the first time this autumn!
How do you keep up with what’s going on in your industry?
Some obvious places, some less obvious:
- Arts Council Jobs and News email lists
- a subscription to a-n
- being proactive in becoming involved in blossoming networks such as Creative Remedies, Praxis, EMPAF and the future potential WMPAF
- other email lists include Turning Point West Midlands
- Staffordshire Arts and Museums Opportunities bulletin
- Warwickshire's Arts and Museums bulletin
- ENYAN bulletins
- Voluntary Arts Network bulletins
- Mailout bulletins
- CiB - obviously!
- and then other word of mouth information on blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc.
What qualities should new employees bring to the team?
Curiosity, tenacity, endless energy, ambition, dedication, an aptitude and willingness to learn new things on the hoof, to be keen to find solutions not problems.
Probably other skills too, but really the above list is pretty intimidating! Eek!
What would you like to see more of in/around your local area?
Locally, we're lucky enough to be based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter which is an amazing neighbourhood which is often overlooked by visitors to the city centre. We've got great cafes, (newly opened!) coffee shops, and a really great community vibe where you really get to know your neighbours.
More broadly, we'd really like there to be more open access spaces for artists to experiment and take risks. We don't feel like Birmingham has that kind of facility currently. Adrienne has lived in both Norwich and Bilbao (Spain) both of which have good examples of this kind of thing:
Bilbaoarte - "It provides young creators with the means and infrastructures required to develop their artistic ideas, such as the availability of studio spaces, engraving and silkscreening workshops, digital imaging, sculpture, photography, a film set, documentation centre and projection rooms."
Norwichartscentre.co.uk - Norwich Arts Centre is situated right in the centre of Norwich and so is very easily accessible to all visitors. Alongside their exhibitions and shows, they have darkrooms which anyone can access via membership and a small fee. They also offer courses for adult CPD.
Whilst the Mac now has it's artist pass scheme as well as their amazing array of courses on offer, it's location is that bit further afield. It doesn't feel like there's anywhere else central to Birmingham for artists to go and experiment and collaborate with media or technique.
Who makes the tea at Frilly?
We don't drink tea! We have a filter coffee machine which Kirsty normally pops on when she gets in (usually at the crazy'o'clock time of 7.30am!) and then when we have visitors we make tea if necessary. :)
Who or what inspires your work?
We love being inspired as often as possible. Notcot.org does an AMAZING job of showing us interesting/ inspiring/ curious things on a daily basis, and has lead to us stumbling across the work of lots of exciting artists and designers.
Recently we stumbled across the work of Yeondoo Jung. Their work is SO MUCH FUN and completely embodies our belief that the work of children can be both playful and taken seriously as an artform. Their transformations of children's drawings are intriguing, surprising and inspiring - but wouldn't exist without the childish scribble they begin with.
We reallyreally love Polarbear - we both spent 2 years working with him and early years kids, and we're continually impressed with the work he produces. We especially love the fact that he's awesome at working with little kids (without any snobbery or condescension over doing so), and at the same time is really genuinely COOL!
Whilst we agree on the above two, we also have slightly differing personal tastes.
Kirsty really loves FriendsWithYou - she enjoys their lighthearted combination of fun and spirituality!
Adrienne really loves the DIY/crafty scene - particularly when people do 'unexpected' things with traditional techniques - eg. Gelitin's giant rabbit or knitted vulvas.
Adrienne also really likes combining craft with technology, but not just for the sake of it - some of the work at last year's Lovebytes show was amazing, but some made her just go 'meh'. She reallyreally hates people trying to shoehorn things into a digital arena just for the sake of funding. Or to try to give relevance to something that isn't relevant.
- Take a look at Frilly on Jobplot.