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ARMA 2016: Alison Carlier at Aspex, Portsmouth

The Venue: Aspex, Portsmouth
The Artist: Alison Carlier
The Commission: 'Flourish'
Alison's Blog
View images of workshops 

The Venue
In 2016 Aspex in Portsmouth was selected from an open call for applications, which drew interest from almost fifty organisations.

Aspex has a 35-year track record of supporting emerging artists and engaging audiences, through the delivery of a programme of exhibitions, off-site projects and participatory opportunities. Artists such as Mona Hatoum, Richard Wilson and Susan Collis, all internationally acclaimed, received support from Aspex at an early point in their careers. This work has continued with projects including Emergency, an open submission biennial exhibition, offering key opportunities for artist exposure and professional development. 

Since relocating to the waterfront at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth in 2006, the gallery has focused on finding ways to meaningfully engage its visitors by facilitating connections with artists and revealing the creative process. The participation programme provides activities for toddlers through to pensioners, and its work with children with Special Educational Needs and Autism has been described as exemplary.

Joanne Bushnell, Director of aspex said: “It is a huge honour for aspex to be selected to host ARMA. Engaging with children, young people and families is at the core of what the gallery stands for, so to be selected to host this prestigious award is hugely exciting.”

Vicky Chapter, Learning and Participation Manager at aspex said: “I am so thrilled that aspex has been selected to host ARMA in 2016. It comes at such a special time for aspex, celebrating our ten-year anniversary in the Vulcan Building and the exciting programme going forwards. We are all really looking forward to welcoming the artist in residence and a new commission for the gallery."

Veronica Reinhardt, Trustee of the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust, said: “ARMA is delighted to be part of aspex’s plans to develop a new learning space in preparation for their tenth anniversary in the Vulcan Building. The residency will offer an emerging artist an exciting opportunity to work with a team that has the promotion of new talent as a key objective, as well as play a central role in the next phase of the gallery’s development.”

Jane Sillis, Director of Engage, said: “Engage is delighted that aspex has been selected to host the 2016 ARMA residency and commission. aspex have a distinguished history of gallery education and of commissioning artists. Through ARMA children, young people and families will work with a contemporary artist - for many this will be their first encounter with aspex and with contemporary art. The commission will celebrate aspex’s tenth birthday in the beautiful and historic Vulcan Building with a celebration in December 2016.”


The Artist: Alison Carlier

Alison Carlier was chosen to undertake the residency at Aspex. Alison’s residency began in May 2016, and over the subsequent ten weeks she carried out education and participatory work alongside Aspex’s youth, family and schools programmes. These workshops informed the development of a new semi-permanent commissioned artwork, which will be launched at the end of the year. The artwork will be situated above the entrance to Aspex’s new artist studio, in the main foyer of the building.

Alison Carlier studied at Surrey Institute of Art and Design and Wimbledon College of Arts, and was awarded the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2014. She has more than 20 years experience of working directly with the public and engaging others is central to her work. Her practice takes the familiarity of drawing to enable people to explore its possibilities beyond the conventions. The work reflects upon the activities of listening and looking, often taking the form of a sound installation or performance.

Alison Carlier said: "I am absolutely thrilled to be selected for the 2016 ARMA Residency. I welcome the opportunity to create a dialogue with the community, culminating in a commissioned work that resonates with those involved and a wider audience.”

Vicky Chapter, Participation and Learning Manager at Aspex said: "I am incredibly delighted that Alison has been selected as our first artist in residence at Aspex. The team cannot wait to work alongside her, using this opportunity to increase Aspex's engagement with the community".

Jane Sillis, Director of Engage said: “Engage is pleased that Alison Carlier is undertaking the 2016 ARMA residency and commission with Aspex. The new commission for Aspex will be created for the newly developed building, and Alison brings a wealth of experience of working with people and award-winning artistic practice to ARMA.”

The residency coincides with exciting times for Aspex, who earlier this year announced details of a National Lottery-funded capital grant from Arts Council England, which will allow for the development of the gallery space to include a new artists studio and a more flexible learning space, as well as a new mobile participation studio, to enable the gallery to take its work out into the community and increase the number of people who can engage in arts activities.

Alison is recording her experiences of the residency via a blog - click here to visit.
Click here to view images of workshops at Aspex 
Click here to learn more about previous ARMA artist residencies.

The Commission: 'Flourish'
Aspex, Engage and the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA) are proud to present ‘Flourish’ a new artwork from the artist Alison Carlier. Over ten weeks the artist carried out education and participatory work at Aspex, leading the weekly ‘Family Saturdays’ session and a series of workshops for St Georges Beneficial School. The workshops have culminated in ‘Flourish’, a neon and sound installation that draws on the military history of the gallery’s home – The Vulcan Building, as an artillery and land service store for HMS Vernon.

‘Flourish’ was unveiled at a celebration event on Thursday 1 December, marking the gallery’s 10 years in the Vulcan Building. The artwork references the site’s present and future incarnations, on the periphery of the designer retail outlet Gunwharf Quays. The accompanying sound work fuses a buzz of the neon workshop, wind whistling through Portsmouth Harbour and shopping at Gunwharf Quays. An exhibition was also displayed within Aspex’s Learning Space, showcasing Carlier’s residency and artwork created through the participatory workshops.

Jane Sillis, Director of Engage said: 'Alison Carlier has created a stunning neon and sound commission for Aspex supported by the 2016 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award. Carlier has drawn inspiration from the naval history of Portsmouth and the Vulcan building and from the brilliant activities she led with Aspex colleagues for children, young people and families. Engage is grateful to the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust for their support of the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award and proud to organise the bi-annual award.'

Joanne Bushnell, Director of Aspex said: 'Aspex has thoroughly enjoyed having Alison as our first artist-in-residence to be located in our new artist’s studio following our small capital project from Arts Council England. ‘Flourish’ is a brilliant homage to the history of this building.'

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Images (from top): Aspex Gallery; Alison's workshops (Photos by Beth Moseley); 'Flourish'.

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