Craftspace Director Deirdre Figueiredo talks to AN News Editor Chris Sharratt about In:Site

As Craftspace begin gearing up for In:Site 2014 we thought it was a good point to revisit a conversation between Deirdre Figueirado, Director and Chris Sharratt Editor of AN News. This is extracted from a conversation which was the basis of an article first published in AN News in September 2013. You can read the whole article here.

CS – What is the role of a festival like In:Site?

DF – In a challenging climate of austerity and extreme pressure on public funds and key public services, it is important to locate creativity centrally in the public realm for all to experience and place value on arts and culture. A festival like this, in the heart of a commercial and business district, provides the opportunity for a wide range of people to encounter site specific artwork. In the context of new graduates, it is a chance to showcase national emerging talent and reflect trends and new thinking in creative production.

CS – How do you feel In:Site helps and supports recent graduates?

DF – Graduates have not always had the opportunity through their coursework to consider socially engaged practice or creating public art. Craftspace is often involved in commissioning public art or bespoke work for particular settings. Clients require a level of experience and track record and we are often unable to appoint new graduates for these opportunities. The context and brief for In:Site provides graduates with the chance to test the viability of ideas, go through the process of a live commission, respond to a brief and a specific site and engage with the public at first hand. They also learn about risk assessment, contracts, working with an arts organisation and positioning their practice. Having something credible on their CV soon after leaving college is definitely a benefit. Working with a well-established organisation like Craftspace means that new graduates can tap into our extensive curatorial expertise and knowledge of the cultural sector as well as our networks and resources. We can often signpost people to further opportunities.

In the words of Hull School of Art and Design graduate, Samantha Wilson who took part in In:Site 2012,  “The location for the In:Site festival was perfect, there were lots of people buzzing about, stopping to look at the work and ask questions. I had a lot of positive feedback. Taking part in In:Site has allowed me to build up my portfolio, taught me how to showcase my work in a public art setting  and has given me the confidence to consider projects like this in the future as I hadn’t even thought about it before now. It’s been both inspiring and enjoyable.”

CS – How important is place, ie, Birmingham, to the festival and how would you charaterise the city as a place to be a young maker?

DF – Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe and is one of the most diverse in the UK. Although In:Site draws in students from all over the country, the work is read in the context of the specific history, environment and current usage of Cathedral Square. With its industrial heritage of making, the uniqueness of the Jewellery Quarter and a thriving independent arts sector, the city is full of fascination and interacting ecologies.


Lisa Falaschi