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Final evaluation, January JANUARY 2020

SECOND CHAPTER

FINAL EVALUATION

1


Front cover image: sea swimmer photographed by Jesse Roth as

part of Lynn Dennison's commission.

This page: artwork by studiodigital student.


Final evaluation, January 2020

CONTENTS

4 1. Introduction

6 2. Developing our artistic programme

8 2.1 Final container installation

9 2.2 Shifting somerset exhibitions

13 2.3. Interactive digital exhibitions

15 2.4 Artist opportunity exhibitions

22 3. Supporting practitioners

27 4. Developing our organisation

32 5. Developing our audiences

34 5.1 Educational strategy

38 5.2 Community events

40 5.3 Digital strategy

43 5.4 Audience feedback

45 6. Key metrics

46 7. Moving into East Quay

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Final evaluation, January 2020

1. Introduction

This report sets out how our project has progressed through

two years, from January 2018 to December 2019. It responds

to question one of the ACE Interim Report form. We focus on

delivery of intended outputs and outcomes, key achievements,

lessons learned, and any substantial changes in our approach or

expectations that have arisen during the course of the project.

We have now completed the project. Our evaluation

commentary here therefore refers to the work of both years of

the project and updates the interim evaluation submitted at the

end of the first year of delivery.

Overall, we have had a strong, positive impact in relation to

the vast majority of the objectives and outcomes we identified

in our original application. The project has been a complex

one with multiple interrelated strands, which has brought its

difficulties. But has also enabled us to achieve a huge amount in

a very short period of time.

The aim of the project overall was to move Contains Art

forward, artistically and developmentally, as we work towards

the expansion of the gallery and its ambitions within the wider

regeneration scheme at East Quay.

In the past year, we have secured the £6 million capital cost

needed to deliver East Quay, including £389,000 from Arts

Council England's Small Capital Grants. The build started on the

9th December 2019 and we expect to be on site for 16 months

with opening of the new galleries in the early summer of 2021.

The programme that is covered by this evaluation report

comprised four strands of work:

• Artistic evolution;

• Audience reach;

• Organisational change; and

• Practitioner progression.

The remainder of this report explores the successes and

otherwise of each strand, in turn, as well as highlighting progress

towards key metrics.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

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Final evaluation, January 2020

2. Developing

our artistic

programme

This central strand of work, around

which all the other strands were formed,

aimed to promote and support public

engagement with tangible, outwardfacing

exhibition outcomes and the

delivery of an off-site programme

for year 2. The following eleven

opportunities were supported:

• Final gallery installation (2018),

awarded to local maker, Helen

Knight.

• Shifting Somerset exhibition (2018)

awarded to Jenny Barron, a local

watercolour realist painter.

• Contemporary landscape exhibition

(2018) awarded to regionally-based,

Lydia Halcrow.

• Digital interactive exhibition (2018)

representing our collaboration with

national body, The Lumen Prize.

• Emergent practice exhibition,

comprising temporary outdoor

works and gallery exhibition (2018)

by Northamptonshire-based artist,

Dylan Fox.

• Final container exhibition (2018)

awarded to Essex-based, Chris

Dobrowolski.

• Shifting Somerset public works

sited around Watchet (2019) by

Somerset artist, Jon England.

• Sculptural installation (2019) sited

on the Esplanade by emergent artist

Jess Ostrowicz.

• Interactive digital installation

(2019) in properties around Watchet

by Laura Dekker, commissioned in

association with Lumen projects.

• Participatory film work (2019)

by Lynn Dennison, working

with Minehead's year-round sea

swimmers.

• Socially-engaged practice research

(2019) by Neville Gabie.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

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Final evaluation, January 2020

2.1 Final container installation

Helen Knight:

News from the Invisible

World

24.03.18—22.04.18

https://youtu.be/KG_

zDYNa5dQ

Helen Knight’s ambitious

installation, News from the

Invisible World, was built onsite

over several weeks during

our winter period. Towards this

end point, Helen had received

support and mentoring since

she was shortlisted for our 2017

installation call out, with a view

to her fulfilling the 2018 slot.

Using pages recycled from old

paper-back books and mud

extracted from the harbour

in Watchet, Helen built a

monumental chrysalis within

a twisted facsimile of our

gallery—literally distorting the

internal exhibition space offkilter.

Painstakingly rendered

in the same materials that line

the gallery; floor to ceiling—it

referenced the gallery’s history

and future transformation.

Audiences were invited to walk

through the angled space to

explore the form inside.

Alongside this installation, we

hosted a small exhibition of

frames and other furnishings

that the artist had made

throughout her career—

many on loan from a private

collection. Artworks by

significant contemporary

artists, including Cornelia Parker

OBE RA, Gilbert and George,

Fiona Banner, and Richard Long

CBE RA, among others, were

on display in frames made by

the artist (from materials as

diverse as old wasp nests and

rusted metal).

Helen admits to feeling

nervous before she took

on this project—her work is

synonymous with intricate

domestic objects reproduced in

cardboard; the container, for all

its limitations, was a significant

increase in scale for the artist.

‘The process of the project was

fascinating to me and this is

where I learnt so much... I have

never had the opportunity to

test this before. It could only be

tried in the arena given to me

by the residency.’

Helen felt as though we had

put a lot of trust in her to

realise such an ambitious

project—supported by the

experience of Tessa Jackson.

Key lesson

The critical tension

between time spent in

residency and immersion

in the project are key to

its success. “In order to

succeed (in an interesting

way), I had to be prepared

to fail” ~ H Knight.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

2.2 Shifting somerset exhibitions

Our Shifting Somerset

exhibitions for this period

provided an opportunity to

build on previous experiences

and outcomes learnt from

working with our regional

practitioners.

The aim was to nurture local

talent—encouraging artists

to take risks, experiment with

their creativity and broaden

their ambition. It also reflects

that resonance for local

audiences is often greater if

artists come from the same

communities as they do.

To reinforce resonance

with our community, the focus

of the brief was primarily

on perspectives of location/

landscape, that would appeal

to our audience segments.

For example, it might be that

they would provide interest to

families or be accompanied by

easily accessible, experiential

events which may be free

Key lesson

Jenny needed to work quite

fast to produce enough

work to fill the gallery

space. This is something to

consider when planning our

new development. Ensure

that the lead-in time for

artists allows for enough

time for progression.

or low cost; or appeal to

the kinds of audiences our

profiling reveals, for example

with a leaning towards

landscape and/or historical

perspectives.

Jenny Barron:

New Perspectives

09.06.18—03.07.18

In this gallery exhibition,

Watchet-based artist, Jenny

Barron, took some of the

colours, motifs, subjects and

themes that she associates

with our small harbour town,

with its essentially maritime

character and historical

associations, to create a series

of new watercolours.

Through more traditional still

life arrangements, some with

the Bristol Channel in the

background, to increasingly

surreal and imaginative

works with dynamic subject

matter, the pieces showed a

progression and development

of the artist’s ideas.

Jenny is an artist well-known

in the community for her

domestic-scaled pieces, and

this exhibition inspired her to

work on a much larger scale.

It was also the first time she

had linked her themes so

closely to the environment

outside of her studio. She said

the exhibition gave her the

freedom to create a cohesive

series of paintings without

necessarily having regard to

their saleability.

Jenny said of her enjoyment

of the education programme

around the exhibition, that she

felt she was able to show some

sides of artistic method and

inspiration that the children

may not have seen before

and was most interested in

their comments and reactions.

Demonstrations, which she

enjoys, can effectively convey a

huge amount of information in

a short time.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Lydia Halcrow:

Mapping Place

22.08.18—30.09.18

Mapping Place was a creative

record of walks along the

North Devon and Somerset

coastlines.

The exhibition was enormously

helpful in developing Lydia’s

practice, She has a tiny studio,

so rarely has the chance to see

a large body of her work out in

one place at the same time.

‘Having the chance to work

with Jon and discuss how

to hang the work, how it all

related and then the time to

work together to try different

ideas within the gallery space

for the exhibition was so

helpful’. It enabled Lydia to see

connections she was unaware

of, and also to get ideas to

help her to push the work

forward.

There were challenges with

how to best install in the

space and how the work

would react to things like

the damp and salty sea air,

especially one piece which

was entirely paper-based,

unprotected by glass. The

conversations we had with

visitors and other artists

during the exhibition and

seeing the children respond to

testing out materials like mud

and blackberries was really

inspirational—and is something

Lydia will carry forward. She is

now aiming to do more junior

level workshops around using

found materials to experiment

with in the future.

‘Jon was very open to my

ideas and incredibly trusting

in my vision both of the work

that should be included in the

show and how we hang it...

crucially he also gave me the

confidence to believe in some

of my original ideas in terms of

how to hang the rust plates. It

was such an important learning

for me not to judge the work

and the installation mid-way

through, but to have faith to

see it through to the end’.

Key lesson

The Autumn Art Day,

which was framed around

Lydia’s work was really

well supported. There were

some challenges around

having a good idea of

numbers attending—but

this would be hard to get

around as people often

sign up late or drop in last

minute as they are passing,

so flexibility has to be in

the plan.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Jon England;

Hour Hands

27.03.19-present

https://youtu.be/PqK-

TuEUoG28

Jon England is an experienced

Somerset-based artist, whose

meticulously-researched work

often has a historical reference

and uses labour-intensive

methods of production. For

Contains Art, Jon's commission

comprised a series of works

sited in and around the town

two of which were 'nail' works

(images formed by thousands

of nails) and the others largescale

photographic works (a

new departure for Jon). All

took the historic mineral line

that once ran from the Brendon

Hill's into Watchet's port, as

their inspiration.

"I wrestled for a considerable

period, exploring multiple

strands of research and many

potential processes before

eventually returning to a

previously utilised process of

transcribing archive imagery

through dot-matrices of tens of

thousands of nails. [...].

I feel that the obvious nature

of the labour involved is a key

factor in the overwhelming

public appreciation of this work,

experienced both in person and

online and the many positive

conversations elicited. The

question of whether my practice

can simultaneously benefit from

and effectively question the

nostalgia elicited by industrial

history is a concern with scope

for further exploration.

Having received such a positive

reception from the town’s

population and visitors alike I

felt I had the freedom to explore

more untried and untested

ideas and went on to produce

a series of photographs of nails

as anthropomorphised forms

acting as metaphors for the

struggle and exploitation of

that historic workforce. Installed

in dispersed locations across

the town these pushed my

work in new directions, utilising

technology not previously

explored and allowing me

to work more quickly and

intuitively whilst retaining an

obvious relationship to the initial

nail work. [...].

I am thankful to the Contains

Art team for their support

and flexibility as I diverted my

energy away from a previously

proposed second body of work

and for finding a small amount

of budget for the printing

of these photographs. Their

‘discovery’ by the public and the

subsequent online commentary

and sharing of their locations

on forums such as the We Love

Watchet Facebook page has

added a positive extra layer of

engagement. It is my desire

that these would have been

much greater in number with a

greater diversity of scales and

locations - both internal and

external - but this also came up

against the constraints of time

and budget."

Jon's very popular nail piece at

the Market House Museum has

since been purchased by the

Museum and will now remain

there permanently.

Key lesson

The siting of works outside

of a gallery setting,

inevitably brings a host

of new challenges. With

so many works included

in Jon's commission,

the major difficulty

came in whether and

how to provide useful

interpretation materials

that are publicly accessible

and meet the needs of

both artist and audiences.

11


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Final evaluation, January 2020


Final evaluation, January 2020

2.3. Interactive digital exhibitions

Lumen Prize

Adventures in Digital Art

14.07.18—12.08.18

https://youtu.be/3ogkicoz4eY

Lumen Prize: Adventures

in Digital Art used the

latest technology to enable

audiences to see the world

differently. It was a partnership

exhibition curated with

Contains Art.

The Lumen Prize is awarded

annually and celebrates the

very best art being created

with technology today

through a global competition,

exhibitions and events

worldwide.

The selected works in the

exhibition featured interactive

and immersive digital artworks

by three international artists

previously selected for The

Lumen Prize. It was important

to us in our brief to Lumen

Prize that these works should

explore what is social and

collaborative about digital,

celebrating the value of such

experiences.

The Lumen Prize shows was

one of the most rewarding

shows we’ve ever put on

in terms of engaging with

new audiences. It is hard to

overstate the impact of this

exhibition in Watchet. We

drew in a whole new crowd

of people who had never until

then be quite brave enough

to step through the doors.

We were easily busier than

we have ever been. Word

and excitement spread faster

around the community than

it had even when we showed

some Matisse cut-outs the

previous year. We hosted

hundreds of school children,

many of whom came back

again and again with their

families over the following

weeks. A mum at the school

told us that her daughter has

pronounced the day of their

visit to the Lumen show to

have been ‘the best day of

school I’ve ever had’.

The exhibition captured the

strength of new technologies,

art, participation and spectacle.

Lumen described the

experience as a total pleasure

and that we were a team

who were highly professional

and eager to build on our

knowledge of art that engages

with technology. We were

invited as guest speaker to the

2018 Lumen Award ceremony,

specifically in recognition

of our strength in engaging

audiences. We look forward to

partnering with Lumen again

for our 2019 season.

Key lessons

Through this exhibition we

built many new and lasting

relationships with harderto-reach

members of the

community. Generations

both old and young were

drawn to the exhibition

for the interactive art and

virtual reality technology,

many of whom would

otherwise never have

had the opportunity

to experience it. The

strength of word-of-mouth

advertising became an

essential tool for bringing

communities to our door,

and return visits.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Laura Dekker

Making Us

Lumen Projects

20/07/19-01/09/19

https://youtu.be/

ICXhJQhqhVQ

Building on the success of our

partnership with the Lumen

Prize in 2018, we decided

to jointly commission a

digital artists with them, now

operating as Lumen Projects,

in 2019. The brief asked for

submissions for a multisite,

interactive, networked

installation in a series of

locations around the town.

Laura Dekker's subsequent

work, which Laura’s work

explores the interplay of nature

and technology through human

intervention, was placed in

locations including at Contains

Art, Andrew’s Fish and Chip

Shop on Liddymore Road,

Albert’s ‘Ardware on Swain

Street and Pebbles Tavern on

Market Street.

In each, the use of a modern

technology, the Xbox Kinect,

allowed the viewer to

become part of the work,

playing with and controlling

how layers of technological

and natural imagery, filmed in

Watchet, were revealed and

superimposed. This

interaction was of course,

fun, but also integral to the

questions being raised by the

artist – how as humans have

we sought to use, shepherd

and circumvent the natural

world to our ends?

"CA's ambitious goal was

to keep all the installations

permanently accessible to

public[...] In the end I think it

would have worked better to

have all the installations fully

inside the shops - it worked

well in the containers and at

Pebbles, but much was lost in

the shop window installations

[...]. Perhaps a different

technology should have been

used from the start; or given the

choice of technology, and more

time, slightly different setups

might have been used. Even

with hindsight, I'm not sure

what would have been the best

approach - risk free or not? I

certainly appreciated that CA

were up for taking the risk.

The opening night and

the kids' workshop were

lovely occasions - really well

organised, well attended and

fun. I know a lot of work, from a

lot of people, went into making

things work so smoothly. And

the technology all worked well,

showing the artworks at their

best. It was good to be there to

see how audiences responded

and interacted, and to get their

direct feedback. I like CA's

choice to have only a small

amount of written information

at most of the installation sites.

The risk, particularly with these

artworks, would be that some

people might not make sense

of it. But I think it was right to

take that risk.

In spending time in Watchet,

seeking out, capturing and

editing the video pieces,

experiencing Watchet in some

of its tiniest detail (down to the

rust, mud, etc.!), I became very

fond of the people and the

places. I wanted the artworks

to be really *for Watchet*, not

just *about* Watchet. I hope

people did enjoy having them

there over the summer."

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Final evaluation, January 2020

2.4 Artist opportunity exhibitions

Dylan Fox:

Rituals of Tourism

28.04.18—03.06.18

For our emerging artist slot we

selected recent graduate, Dylan

Fox. Rituals of Tourism was

based on Fox’s early childhood

memories of visiting the

seaside; exploring the beach,

racing to get candyfloss, saving

room for fish and chips, and

finding a suitable postcard to

send home.

As an adult, these activities

became rituals. They were

important steps in ensuring a

trip to the seaside lived

up to expectations. Dylan

turned these rituals into a

series of new works, each

addressing some of the artist’s

more recent experiences of

gender transition, playing with

the balance between these

formative memories and the

much harsher reality of

living as a transgender adult.

Many of these works also

highlighted how these realities

affect the wider transgender

community, using the exhibition

as a platform to voice

these problems.

Rituals of Tourism explored

different methods of

collaboration, such as a series

of artist led walks where

members of the public could

steer the direction taken and

the topic of conversation.

This opened up questions

of authorship, collaboration

and community that Dylan

envisions will help develop

future participatory works.

Dylan’s practice explores the

physical, medical, emotional

and social aspects of

gender transition; specifically

the frustration felt with

inefficient transgender

healthcare pathways. His

work is hinged on how social

constructs affect people,

aiming to question and shift

these by generating work

through social interaction,

working with other artists and

the public.

A key part of this exhibition

for audiences was the process

of finding ephemeral works

around the town, such as

beermats, postcard stands,

free candyfloss, deckchairs,

and windbreaks—the gallery

acting as a Tourist Information

Centre and exploration point

for each work and event.

Key lessons

Candyfloss brought a

young audience, that Dylan

hadn’t anticipated, to the

performance—embracing

this was paramount to its

success. It also highlighted

a need to more formally

consider our use of nongender

specific pronouns

when communicating with

the LGBTQI+ community.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

After spending some time in

the town prior to developing

this exhibition, Dylan became

aware of the strong sense

of community within the

townspeople, which heavily

influenced the works. When

engaging directly with this

community during the show,

his expectations were met and,

at times, exceeded in regards

to the public engagement with

the works and the response to

the show.

One of the lessons learned

from the translation of

participatory works from

urban areas to our rurally

isolated town was that

preconceptions surrounding

audiences need to be

considered on both sides.

Dylan admits that he also

found maintaining a high

level of engagement to be

a challenge, due to living

so far away and needing to

be present so often. This

is certainly something that

he will have to consider for

future exhibitions, finding a

balance within the works and

the public programme that

engages the public in a way

that is achievable given time

and distance factors.

Watchet, with its ancient port

is, contrary to expectation,

home to a well established

bi-annual trans convention.

This made the work feel more

relevant, and appropriate

that our organisation should

acknowledge and enjoy

conversation surrounding

LGBTQI+ questions. Dylan’s

work, with its stance of

protest and assertion of trans

acceptance, was met by an

audience who were more

informed and enlightened than

perhaps the artist could have

expected. If anything, we found

that our audiences would

actively seek conversations

around trans issues, offering

new and unexpected

connections for the artist,

delivering new outcomes.

Dylan describes how they

‘became aware of how diverse

and divergent the community

was’.

Our audiences said the

exhibition provided ‘thought

provoking installations

surrounding gender

discussions’ and that there

was an ‘openness and sense of

celebration’, the events ‘always

felt inclusive and relaxed’.

Younger audiences were

encouraged by free candyfloss.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Chris Dobrowolski:

Transit Transition

06.10.18—04.11.18

https://youtu.be/Gwe7sE97i1E

Chris Dobrowlolski was

brought to our attention by

Tessa Jackson who knew of the

artist from his residency as part

of the British Antarctic Survey.

Chris was selected for his

makeshift aesthetic and

celebration of modest

materials—this exhibition would

be the final container exhibition

before we prepared for our

new development—it was

essential to our brief that the

artist should honour the nature

of the gallery, its fabrication

and its future transformation.

The artist directly addressed

this time of metamorphosis

for the shipping container

art gallery that has housed

exhibitions on the quayside for

five years now.

“I’m emphasising what a

shipping container is—a

space that’s very purpose is

to be in constant transition.

Essentially it’s an art exhibition

about shipping containers in a

shipping container.”

Chris took what was a simple

starting point and through a

series of mechanical, playful,

even absurd works, which often

repurposed household objects,

explored the unexpected,

makeshift and haphazard

nature of transition over time.

In this, his work also looked

to the future of the shipping

containers at the East Quay,

where the gallery container

is expected to be repurposed

once again into a community

workshop.

“The primary use of a

shipping container is to

move manufactured goods

from where the work force is

cheap to where people have

money. Taken out of this cycle

of exploitation the Watchet

container is also taking its own

course, subverting this box of

exploitation into a space that

nurtures the community.”

Chris was also influenced

by Watchet’s connection

to Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the

Ancient Mariner’, which was

referenced frequently in the

exhibition—used to draw out a

sense of the romantic seafaring

tradition and contrast it with

our more banal contemporary

world of global consumer

capitalism. “An image I

found on the internet that

has haunted me is that of a

shipping container accidentally

lost overboard. Like the

wandering albatross it appears

to be destined to drift forever.”

Chris found the location an

unusual place to show work

partly because of the broad

range of people that visit.

He noted our reputation that

attracts the people you would

expect to visit an art gallery

but also having a genuine

passing trade of locals and

tourists who ordinarily wouldn’t

visit an art gallery. This is partly

down to the location but he

thought this may be a result of

the shipping container itself—

having an accessible down-toearth

quality about it which

people find unintimidating.

He mentions our particularly

good outreach, as well as

a lot of school visits. When

invited to give an artist talk,

we held the event in our local

pub, a small venue recognised

for its intimate folk gigs and

award-winning cider, which

Chris enjoyed for its diverse

interaction and lack of

pretention.

Chris found the space was

quite an interesting challenge

to show work in but found

it suited him very well. He

made a lot of new works to

fit the space, and we found

that the spectacle of this—

Chris built a model railway

through the container walls,

leaving a lasting legacy of

the exhibition—along with

other interactive, mechanical

and kinectic pieces, appealed

to an audience who would

appreciate the simplicity of its

craft and playful delivery.

Chris was really impressed

with the number visitors we

managed to attract and our

online presence. Our ‘simple,

but well made, promotional

film had over one and a half

thousand hits before the end of

the exhibition’.

17


Final evaluation, January 2020

Asked what our audiences

thought of the final container

exhibition, they answered that

it was a ‘really well-considered

and conceived exhibition

specifically responding to

the history and character of

the containers’. It was ‘fun,

challenging, and unpretentious.’

“A great exhibition—connecting

on so many levels. I enjoyed

the delightful humour, the

inventiveness, the playfulness

and also that it was thought

provoking as well as original.

My four year old grandson was

mesmerised and very excited,

which was wonderful, and also

importantly that it managed to

engage and stimulate one so

young.”

Facebook comment from a

Watchet resident.

Key lessons

The challenge of this

exhibition was not knowing

if the work would correctly

capture the sentiment and

mood surrounding this

chapter in our history—it

was important to us that

the exhibition should be

entirely new and interesting

for the artist and audiences,

but that it should also

reference and deal with

the issues surrounding

how we celebrate this

seminal moment for our

organisation.

We will need to refer

to these experiences

when planning for our

exhibition that opens our

new gallery—negotiating

the balance between

audience expectations

and our narrative as an

organisation.

It’s important that we

maintain a journey from

these experiences and carry

our audiences forward

into the new gallery, whilst

embracing a new crowd

of visitors and establishing

new relationships.

18


Final evaluation, January 2020

Lynn Dennison

Sea Swimmers

18.10.19-30.11.19

https://youtu.be/Mz1hr1xTC6c

Artist Lynn Dennison worked

with the local community of

year-round sea swimmers,

producing two complementary

film works shown at Watchet

Boat Museum - one projected

onto the windows and visible

to audiences at night from

outside the building. Lynn

filmed local sea swimmers

monthly, over the course of

nearly a year, from the

same stretch of beach in

Minehead, where swimmers

met regularly. The resultant

film observed the interaction

and relationship of the

swimmers with land and

water showing their differing

experiences and emotions as

they move from

land to seashore, into water,

and back out again.

Although filmed monthly,

throughout the year, the

limited land-based reference

points made the changing

seasons hard to discern, but

the swimmers faced all kinds

of weather and conditions.

Across the year, on any given

swim, the swimmers

confronted varying sea

temperatures, tidal swells, rain,

hailstorms, sun, sewerage and

levels of serenity.

"It has been a real pleasure

working with Contains Art on

the Sea swimmers project.

Because I wanted to structure

the project around a monthly

visit to capture the idea of

swimming throughout the

year, there was a considerable

amount of organisation each

month, coinciding diaries with

tide times, and this was always

managed without problems

and with apparent calm.

It was such a great project to

do because swimming makes

everyone so happy and there

was always such a good

atmosphere! My work often

references aspects of water

and the sea; sometimes water

engulfs a domestic scene

as a metaphor for memory,

the passage of time and

temporality. But it can also be

about an excess of emotion,

perhaps relating to a nostalgia

for a deep connection with

nature, and this is what I was

interested in exploring further

through this work. I wanted

the work to document the

change the swim brings about,

so I focused on the entry and

exit to and from the water for

the final work. Formally I liked

the idea of showing the figure

going in and coming out of the

water in this cyclical motion

throughout the year. As well

as enabling me to realise this

idea, which I had been thinking

about for some time, the

project has provided me with a

lot of material for further work,

and I would like to continue to

work with this material along

with footage from a ‘Go Pro”

worn by swimmers, to make

another work which focuses

more on the experience from

the swimmers viewpoint.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

During the setup of the

installation, I was given

invaluable help from Tessa

Jackson, Jess Prendergrast

and Jon Barrett, both in the

curation of the work and in

the show build, resulting in an

installation that I was really

happy with. It was quite a

complicated build, not only

because of my own vision for

how the work should appear,

but also due to the nature of

the building and necessary

restrictions, but Jon worked

tirelessly to achieve what we

had set out to do.

I had worked with public

engagement before, mostly

with workshops and talks,

but this project gave me the

opportunity to really engage

with a community group and

get to know them well, and

making these relationships

helped hugely with the way

the project took shape. I

hope that I have made lasting

connections with both the

team at Contains Art and the

sea swimmers."

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Jess Ostrowicz

Ode to Yankee Jack

July-October 2019

Royal College of Art PHD

graduate, Jess Ostowicz

was commissioned to create

a sculptural heritage tribute

to John Short (Yankee

Jack). The ambition was that

the work would echo the

sound of Yankee Jack's voice

through its seven inset pipes

achieving the musical notes

attributed to the celebrated

shanty singer,, which would,

in effect, ‘play’ in the changing

wind across the harbour.

The wall was constructed in

the local drystone tradition to

house these pipes. The pipes

themselves were 3-D printed

at Imperial College, London.

In the event, the project

proved much more complex

and challenging than anticipated

by either the team at

Contains Art or the artist

herself. Initially, this was because

planning permission

was required due to the piece

being sited in a conservation

area. This delayed the installation

a little but otherwise was

little more than an administrative

headache.

More problematically, the

stability of the sculpture was

compromised early on by local

teenagers climbing on it,

meaning that consequently

adaptations to the construction

process has to be made,

adding both cost and time for

the artist. Further, the sound

element of the piece was not

wholly effective, unless physcially

blown by audience members,

which in turn led to some

public frustration. None of

these challenges undermined

the visual impact of the work,

which animated engagement

and discussion over the busy

summer months. Nonetheless,

it provided strong learning for

us as an organisation, whilst

also reinforcing our belief that

taking risks is an important

part of the way that we support

emergent artists.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

3. Supporting practitioners

As well as the support that

we offer practitioners through

the exhibition programme

opportunities described in

the previous section, we

also undertake various other

activities intended to help

artists on their journey’s. For

the last few years we have

run a series of ‘container

conversations’ that provide a

place for discussion, debate

and critique for our artists’

community. We held four such

talks in 2018 and the same

in 2019, experimenting with

different formats as we consider

the evolution of the series and

the move to larger gallery in

due course. Some of the talks

are explored in more detail in

the following pages.

We also held a series of

conversations with local

practitioners who are

interested in taking studios

and working closely with us

in the new development. This

enabled us to understand

practitioner needs, hopes and

ideas and to connect them

firmly to the East Quay as it

moves forward. This work was

followed up at the start of 2019

with a Symposium, bringing

together the artist community

in developing ideas about

what is possible in the new

building. We were delighted to

welcome Bedwyr Williams as a

guest speaker at the event. A

second Symposium was also

held in December 2019, again

exploring future thinking in

regards to East Quay. This time,

we welcomed feminist artist

Rachel Ara to speak

Jenny Barron

New Perspectives

We have run a series of

speaker events during the

past that have been very

successful with creative and

public audiences alike. The

format of these evolved as we

have run the events. The most

interesting variant proved to

be a kind of ‘conversational’

Q&A format, which provided

a relaxed non-formal set-up

and also enabled those who

might not be comfortable in a

more traditional ‘speaker’ role

to agree and engage with the

process.

Jenny Barron’s container

conversation, which

accompanied her exhibition,

was the first opportunity for

many to hear this well-known

local artist speak first-hand

about her influences and

approach to her work.

Jenny led the conversation

through a conversational q&a

that was conducted during the

daytime—our first event of this

kind, having previously held

talks during the evening, often

on a Friday night.

We had looked extensively

at our audience profile for

Jenny’s work and decided

that the most attractive

format would be to hold the

conversation over Sunday

brunch in our container

courtyard. This was also part

of initiative to offer more

daytime cultural events and

weekend activities.

Dylan Fox

Rituals of Tourism

Responding to Dylan’s playful

approach to engagement and

because his works were sited

out and about in the town as

well as in the gallery, we reimagined

the format for his

‘container conversation’. He

was joined by lecturer Renee

Pfister for a walking tour of his

works, complete with stop for

ice-cream, pop into the pub for

a pint (and to see his beer mat

works) and dip in the ‘boating

lake’ (to see his wind breaks)

and finished with fish and chips

eaten around a conversational

table at the containers (having

taken in his postcard works

that were available from the

chippie).

The different format was very

much enjoyed by participants,

although it was harder work

to secure an audience than

when delivering the kind of

event we have become wellknown

for. This did not diminish

the impact of the event for

participants however, with

several commenting that the

smaller numbers (10 versus

the usual 20 or so for such

events) gave a chance to have

deeper and more involved

conversations, an opportunity

that was valuable given the

complexity and sensitivity of

the subject of Dylan’s work.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Lumen Prize

Adventures in Digital Art

Following the success of Jenny

Barron’s daytime container

conversation, we reverted

to our original Friday night

format for this talk with Jack

Addis of Lumen Prize and Nick

Lambert (Director of Research,

Ravensbourne University

London) that addressed the

subject of art and technology.

This was, in part, designed to

attract our regular audience

of evening culture-goers, but

also a reflection of the different

audience who would be

attending this event.

In an exhibition that attracted

audiences of all ages, this talk

was aimed at the artistic and

historical context of digital

artworks—a subject that was

best suited to an evening

talk for regional artists and

intrigued audiences. The

success of the event was the

comparisons between digital

and contemporary art history.

Chris Dobrowolski

Antarctica

This event was held in one of

our local pubs, a venue that is

recognised for its modest size,

charm, good cider, and folk gigs.

Chris supports his practice

with his own brand of artist

talks—previously enjoying

a season long run at the

Edinburgh Fringe. These talks

are deliberately low-fi events

that highlight Chris’s sense

of artistic failure, a comedic

device that felt best suited

to this venue and its history

of music gigs, and open-mic

performances.

Chris’s performance, an hourand-a-half

long ‘holiday snap’

journey through his residency

with the British Antarctic

Survey, gives an insight into

the personality and practice

of the artist in ways that a

conventional q&a couldn’t.

Some of the praise for the

event:

‘Chris D at Pebbles was

outstanding. He was

entertaining but mostly opened

my eyes to an extraordinary

style of art!’

‘Chris Dobrowolski talk

at Pebbles inspired and

entertained me’

‘Chris Dobrowolski was the best

ever in CAs history for me’

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Jon England

Hour hands

We returned to our traditional

format for Jon England's container

conversation, held in the

container gallery, with Simon

Morrissey of Foreground

providing the other conversational

partner. The subject

matter ranged from heritage

to public engagement and

from manual technique to

philosophical approaches. Audiences

expressed the value of

the opportunity to hear from

Jon early in his commission,

particularly in light of the fact

that the timing of his installations

across the year meant

we did not hold a more traditional

private view event.

"The In-Conversation event

with respected curator Simon

Morrissey of Foreground was

a fantastic opportunity to

further my thinking regarding

the production of works for

the public realm as well as an

enjoyable evening".

The event was concluded with

the recording of a podcast as

part of as series called 'Last

Writes' that we are producing

in collaboration with artist

Chris Jelley. This was the

second in the series, with four

more recorded over the year

at various events. The subject

- what would your funeral

be like - afford audiences a

chance to understand more

about the lives and interests

of artists but in an unconventional

format, and has proved

very popular.

Lynn Dennison

Sea Swimming

For the opening of Lynn

Dennison's installation at the

Watchet Boat Museum, we

combined our usual private

view with a container conversation,

pairing Lynn with

Beth French, a local women

who had recently attempted

to swim seven global channels,

and been the subject of

a powerful independent film

- Against the Tides - charting

her physical and personal

journey. The film itself was also

shown later in the year to a

packed audience, again in the

Boat Museum.

" Naomi and Jess at Contains

Art organised a (delicious,

home cooked) dinner for the

opening; it was a really special

occasion with the team, the

swimmers, friends and associates

all attending. An “In conversation”

was held between

Jess Prendergrast, myself and

Beth French, channel swimmer

and motivational speaker,

whose story was fascinating

and impressive. This provided

a great angle to talk about

sea swimming and the project,

and the informal and friendly

nature of the event put me

at ease and made for a really

enjoyable evening."

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Bedwyr Williams,

Contains Art Sypmosium

January 2019

25


Final evaluation, January 2020

26

Rachel Ara,

Contains Art Sypmosium

December 2019


Final evaluation, January 2020

4. Developing our organisation

This strand of work covers

five aspects: partnership

building, governance changes,

resourcing, and consultant

support in curating and retail.

Most significantly, we have

expended considerable time

and effort to developing solid

and diverse partnerships

with local and national

organisations. This reflects that

as we expand our programme

and activities, we also need to

expand our horizons, to ensure

we are ‘plugged in’ to the right

networks both regionally and

nationally.

Throughout year one, and

heading into our transition

period, we looked to cement

our existing relationships and

expand ourselves more widely

on the regional and national

stage.

We therefore supported

an opportunity in 2018 to

promote a touring exhibition

and publication from a

previous Contains Art initiated

exhibition, New Wave: An Arts

Education.

New Wave was a project

initiated by Toni Davey RWA,

supported by Contains Art and

Somerset Art Works to explore

the values of arts education

for our economy, society, and

humanity.

Toni Davey and her husband

Andy (director of Contains Art)

helped a generation of young

people in West Somerset to

think. They did so through

their roles as art teachers at

the comprehensive school

in Minehead. Alongside her

teaching role, Toni always

remained a successful

practicing artist. In the New

Wave exhibition, which was

first shown at Contains Art in

Watchet in September 2017,

she was also curator. The

project showcased new works

by 30 of Toni and Andy’s exstudents,

each responding to

Hokusai’s iconic woodcut, ‘The

Great Wave of Kanagawa’, a

piece that has held a personal

fascination for Toni over several

decades.

This exhibition and publication

was subsequently toured

regionally to both RWA Bristol

and Black Swan Arts, Frome.

The publication remains an

important aspect of CA’s

merchandise.

New Wave shows the thirst and

talent for creativity with which

just a few of the young people

from that school emerged and

headed out into the world. But

the project’s impact is much

more than this. It speaks to the

value of art for young people at

a time when it is being stripped

from school curriculums. In so

doing it provides a vital but

uncomfortable comment on

the impact of arts education—

demonstrating rather than

bemoaning what will be lost

if the current side-lining of

creative subjects from our

schools is not arrested.

We will continued this

incentive throughout our year

two programme with South

West Heritage Trust and an

educational partnership with

Somerset Museums to deliver

an exhibition at the museum

with artworks created by our

local schoolchildren in West

Somerset (see educational

section of this report).

Within that our educational

engagement officer, Cat Smith,

led a group of schoolchildren

from Danesfield middle

school in a project with

local monoprint artist, Lynn

Mowat, to produce artworks

inspired by Doris Hatt, who is

celebrated in a retrospective at

Somerset Museum, in Taunton.

The childrens’ artwork, created

during sessions at Contains

Art, was shown at the museum

alongside the Hatt exhibition.

For most children, if not all,

this was the first time that their

artwork had been seen publicly.

The intention in this, as with

much of that strand of work,

is that the exhibition fosters

a new audience of West

Somerset children and families

for the museum, who would

otherwise have been hard to

reach, but also empowers a

generation of local children

to believe that the creative

subjects has value, particularly

at a time when this is seeming

less certain for younger

audiences in our district.

During our transition period

in 2019, with our gallery

programme off-site, and in

advance of the building work

commencing for our new

development, we continued to

27


Final evaluation, January 2020

open our studios and gallery

for use with partner events,

educational resources, studio

& cpd projects. We worked

working with Somerset Wildlife

Trust to deliver a family-friendly

environmental art adventure—a

weekend event in Spring to

celebrate the rich, but lesserdocumented,

marine biology

along our stretch of coastline. It

is events like these, and future

partnerships between ourselves

and regional bodies that brings

a diversity of activity to our

containers during this time of

transition, and helps to engender

some of the cultural make-up

of the development that we

will inherit— with its varying

business and artistic practices.

Our work with Somerset

Wildlife Trust carries forward a

narrative of science, heritage

and art crossovers for us that

continues our series of geologyinspired

cpd exhibitions,

Marking Time. Continuing that

theme, 2018 saw the artists

involved take the initiative to

host a touring show of their

work, with a new exhibition held

in Lyme Regis during the annual

fossil festival on the south coast.

This was an important step

for this group of artists who

began their project through

mentoring and development

with Contains Art, and now had

the confidence and autonomy

to bring their work to an

entirely new audience—and

simultaneously promoted our

brand to a neighbouring region.

Equally, we supported

Somerset Art Works as a

venue for their creative bursary

pathway, which was awarded

to Georgina Towler, resident

studio holder at Contains Art,

as part of the Somerset Art

Weeks Festival. One of four

Key lessons

Investing in partnership

building can be a very time

consuming activity. We

need to become better at

judging what to say yes

to and what to resist. We

recognise that long term,

strong partnerships with

multiple organisations is

vital, but also that if not

properly resourced this

work can easily undermine

other more public-facing

aspects of our work. This

is not to learn not to do it,

but to be considered and

careful about implications,

and to make sure

resourcing is appropriate in

advance.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

bursary artists, the award gave

the artists access to mentoring

support with the initiative to

create a new work as part

of Somerset Open Studios.

Contains Art offered our

courtyard and external walls of

the containers for Georgina to

explore a dramatic expansion

in the scale of her work, which

introduced 3-dimensional

forms into her practice. It was

a fantastic opportunity for her

to push ideas in a new direction

and create a piece of public art.

Our visitors said that it

was ‘lovely to see Georgina

exploring a new way of

working’. Georgina has now

travelled to New Zealand in

a hiatus from her studio and

opportunity to inform her

practice with new surroundings.

Other work streams under this

strand have included continued

due diligence work on the

merger of Contains Art with

Onion Collective, which we

had hoped to implement in

advance of the new building

opening. This has involved

expert advice received from

legal firm Latham & Watkins

(provided pro bono under the

Trustlaw initiative) and from

our VAT and finance advisors

Francis Clark. The upshot of

this work has been that we

have concluded not to merge

the two organisations. This

reflects the vagaries of the

Capital Goods Scheme which

means that we cannot merge

without risking paying back

the VAT on the build. Instead,

we are now exploring detailed

29


Final evaluation, January 2020

back-office alignment to

increase efficiencies as well

as undertaking separate legal

due diligence on the option

of Contains Art becoming a

charity.

In related strands, Tessa

Jackson has continued to

support us to develop the

plans for East Quay and our

artistic programme in the new

building, with the building

now on site and programming

in train for the first three

years. Our separate Audience

Development Plan was entirely

updated in 2019 (see right)

to encompass the much

wider activities, audiences

and opportunities within

the East Quay project, now

encompassing seven strands

of work, rather than the three

which have been the focus of

our efforts over the last few

years (community, education,

digital). The four new strands

are: contemporary practice,

heritage, events/music and

enterprise.

In terms of retail and branding

support we have been working

with global retail consultancy

FITCH to develop a new brand

and all associated materials,

logos, designs etc which

will then feed into our retail

approach and a new website

for the East Quay development

which will come on stream in

2020 in advance of opening.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Artist Joanne Horrobin being

filmed by Jesse Roth.

31


Final evaluation, January 2020

5. Developing our audiences

This strand aimed to maximise

the impact of our artistic

programme through several

strands. The first was the

ongoing implementation of

our Audience and Community

Development Plan, based

around three areas which come

together and interconnect—

community engagement work,

and education and digital

strategies and associated

action plans, each of which

have been developed in

collaboration with our new

Digital and Educational

Engagement officers, made

possible to recruit directly

by the funding from the Arts

Council. As above, this plan has

now been fullly updated.

Several aspects are explored

in more detail in the following

sections, namely:

• the co-creation of an

educational programme and

vision with local schools;

• a series of public events

tied to our educational

workstream and made

possible by a grant from

Awards for All;

• dedicated and expanded

digital activities designed

explicitly to reach younger

and especially teenage

audiences in different ways

and;

• artistic consultation work

with primary-age children

with a view to connecting

them to and giving them

a stake in the new gallery,

and supported by a small

grant from the Somerset

Community Foundation.

A critical factor in enabling the

implementation of each of these

audience-focused workstreams

was the funding from the Arts

Council which allowed us to

recruit two new posts, each for

one day a week—an educational

engagement officer and a

digital engagement officer.

For each the first task was

to develop a comprehensive

action plan of activities, putting

the meat on the bones of the

strategic approach set out in

our Audience Plan. Adapting

the resourcing was not

straightforward and it became

clear that two very limited

posts may not be the best way

to maximise impact. See key

lessons box for our revised

approach.

Key lessons

We realised quite quickly

that one day a week with

our digital and educational

engagement officers was

not enough to fulfil all

that we wanted from our

Audience Plan. In order to

make a more substantial

impact to our outcomes,

we therefore reviewed our

approach in the autumn of

2018 and sought substantial

additional funding around

our digital strand (see

section 5.3). This led to

substantial re-framing of

engagement staff funding

therefore in 2019, following

an options and resource

review that is ongoing.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

Local schoolchildren learning watercolour

technique with artist Jenny Barron.

33


Final evaluation, January 2020

5.1 Educational strategy

We have made substantial

progress in our educational

work since 2018 following

the recruitment of Cat Smith,

a qualified teacher, with

significant arts experience, as

our Educational Engagement

officer. She works for us 3

days a week, with additional

resourcing secured via the

West Somerset Opportunity

Area in order to set up after

school art clubs in local middle

schools and to coordinate our

Studio Digital project. Having

now made successful links with

our thirteen most local schools

and beyond, school exhibition

visits have become a regular

activity.

Achievements in the past two

years include:

• Hosted 18 school visits

involving hundreds of

children across 24 classes/

groups (ages 4 to 13).

• Developed solid working

relationships with a wider

portfolio of schools,

including all 6 West

Somerset Academies Trust

(WSAT) schools (4 first, 2

middle schools), plus 7 other

schools west of Taunton.

• Co-created an education

strategy, developed as

a result of several key

pieces of work including a

strategic 5-year ‘visioning’

exercise in collaboration

with 11 Headteachers

and arts coordinators, as

well as through creative

consultations with local

school children, and

consultation with artists also.

• Created tailored activities

and workshops to

complement exhibition visits

by schools.

• Facilitated multiple artists

workshops in school.

• Created a successful

‘Passport’ participation

activity, aimed at 4-8 year

olds, encouraging summer

holiday visits to Contains Art.

• Established two after-school

art clubs at Danesfield

Middle School and Minehead

Middle enabling students to

work with a range of artists.

• Hosted two students’

exhibitions and facilitated

one more at The Museum of

Somerset.

• Become an active Arts

Award Centre, with 34

students obtaining ‘Explore’

with exemplary feedback

and 72 children obtaining

‘Discover’.

• Registered as an Arts

Award Partner, providing

continued support to the 6

WSAT schools and one other

as they embark on their

Artsmark journey; supported

another West Somerset

primary school in submitting

their case study and entering

their first pupils for Arts

Award, resulting in a ‘Gold’

Artsmark award.

• Embedded firm working

partnerships with other

local cultural education

organisations such as Hauser

and Wirth, The Museum of

Somerset and joined the

Cultural Learning Alliance of

local organisations, as well

as those further afield such

as Deborah Curtis’s House of

Fairy Tales.

• Designed a series of school

holiday workshops, linking

9-13 year olds with a range

of different artists and art

forms including glass fusion,

ceramics, monoprinting,

photography, bookbinding,

veneer wood work and

drawing.

• Provided continued support

to University Centre

Somerset’s fine art degree

students with crits, work

experience and connections.

• Successful delivery of an

ACE-funded collaborative

project between Contains

Art and The Museum of

Somerset, working with

students from Danesfield

Middle School and a local

artist.

• Carried out 3 successful

rounds of Studio Digital with

24 often hard-to-engage

students, having completed

the programme.

We have now developed very

positive relationships with

all local schools, for which

we intend to maximise the

impact in East Quay, having

overcome substantial barriers

that initially proved difficult

to tackle for a variety of

reasons. The strategic 5-year

‘visioning’ exercise of October

2018 brought many of these

schools together to hear

about the work we are doing

and our ambitions for the

future. This also provided a

platform for the schools’ senior

leaders to discuss the current

barriers that prevent school

engagement and student

34


Final evaluation, January 2020

access to high quality, rich and

varied creative experiences.

The ‘art mapping’ creative

consultation exercise revealed

children’s understanding and

experience of arts provision,

both within school and the

locality. It also revealed

children’s desire to explore

unconventional forms of

art within which they can

be immersed, art they can

interact with, art that is big or

art that surprises them. The

art mapping also revealed

how the children had limited

understanding of the range of

creative career opportunities

and that they perceived jobs

and careers in the creative

industries as an unobtainable

‘dream’. We intend to reverse

this viewpoint for future

generations of schoolchildren

here.

The ‘visioning’ exercise, art

mapping creative consultations,

artist conferences alongside

our experiences and reflections,

have fed into our co-created

education strategy, detailing

Contains Arts offer for the near

future. Over the next five years

we will seek to achieve all that

it envisages, transforming arts

education across a large rural

area.

There were two exhibitions

which proved highly

successful with the schools

in 2018. These were Lumen’s

Adventures in Digital Art and

Chris Dobrowolski’s Transit

Transition. Both exhibitions

were participatory in nature,

which children and young

people responded well to.

They developed children’s

conceptual understanding

of what art can be and went

a long way to dismissing

negative gallery perceptions

where children are made to feel

uneasy. Our programming will

follow this lead, ensuring that

interactivity, participation are

front and centre as a means

to build lifelong connections

to contemporary art that

challenges assumptions for

children and their families.

‘I never realised this [Lumen’s

digital works] could be art.’

School pupil.

The two after-school art clubs,

funded through the West

Somerset Opportunity Area,

have successfully enabled us

regular access into the two

local middle schools: Minehead

Middle and Danesfield Middle

(both of whom had previously

proved difficult to engage).

These clubs have linked artists

with students through a series

of hands-on workshops,

focusing on a variety of

different artforms including

wirework, plaster casting,

drawing, iPad art, sculpture and

printing. The art clubs enabled

Contains Art to become a

regular fixture within these

schools, building vital working

relationships with staff and

students alike. The two clubs

have culminated in a highly

successful exhibition, attended

by over 120 people including

the students themselves, their

families, local school staff and

35


Final evaluation, January 2020

the artists they had worked

with. Alongside working

with the various artists, they

have been supported by

our Education Engagement

Officer to achieve Arts Award

‘Explore’, with the moderator

describing their work as

‘exemplary in all 4 parts for

assessment’ and commenting

on their ‘insightful detail’. We

now hope to develop this

further to ensure there is a

lead-in with ‘Discover’ and

lead-out with ‘Bronze’ and

‘Silver’. The legacy of these

clubs is evident with both

middle schools now offering

extra-curricular art clubs,

where before there was little

other than sports.

I achieved being able to explore

and investigate materials and

techniques because before

I wanted to stick to what I

know but now I feel more

adventurous. Also, I can

challenge myself and go for

harder options now.

Danesfield Middle School pupil

The Summer School, also

funded by the West Somerset

Opportunity Area, provided

an opportunity for those who

had been unable to engage

with the after-school art clubs

and provided a series of five

practical artist-led workshops.

The children were able to

engage with new art forms,

tools and techniques that they

were unlikely to experience in

school. As well as developing

children’s creativity through

engagement with new art

forms, the social benefits were

also noted by several parents

who were keen for their

children to make new friends

and develop in confidence.

My daughter thoroughly

enjoyed the workshops and is

so excited that her work has

been chosen to be displayed

in an exhibition. She really

liked the way the artists

encouraged her to explore new

ideas, especially when she was

struggling to think of what to

do next.

Parent

Both of my children

commented on how relaxed

they felt in a new environment.

They socially integrated with

new young people and artists

and were genuinely excited

for every session. The art

workshops inspired more

spontaneous creativity at

home, using taught ideas and

researching on the internet.

My son has massively gained

confidence in his creative

abilities as he has previously

struggled with this in the

school environment.

Parent

Next steps

• Develop teachers’ expertise

and creativity by facilitating

a series of skills sharing

workshops, delivered for

teachers by teachers and

artists.

• Develop online education

resources, including a blog

to document our education

offer, links to artists and

planning tools along with

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Final evaluation, January 2020

physical as well as digital

resources.

• Celebrate progression

in creative learning and

develop further ongoing

relationships with children

and young people by

considering multiple

platforms for celebration i.e.

student magazine, billboards,

online student gallery,

physical exhibitions, end-ofyear

award etc.

• Support schools in modifying

their art curriculum to

ensure consistency, which

in turn aids transition and

progression, both within and

between schools.

• Collaborate with other

West Somerset youth

organisations in order to

develop continuous 0-25

provision (Contains Art,

Clowns, Minehead Eye and

Homestart) that provides a

joined-up approach which

will make a real difference.

• Develop greater engagement

and more meaningful

relationships with West

Somerset College and its

students through Studio

Digital.

• Ensure progression is

available for students to

engage with opportunities at

Contains Art i.e. develop Arts

Award capacity (by offering

‘Discover’ and accessing

training which enables us to

offer ‘Bronze’ and ‘Silver’),

work experience placements,

digital commission work etc.

• Devise an education

programme with targeted

local schools which aims to

raise aspirations through

engagement and with artists,

Artsmark and Arts Award,

drawing upon partnerships

with Hauser and Wirth’s

Director of Education Debbie

Hillyerd and The House of

Fairy Tales’ creator Deborah

Curtis to assist in programme

design.

Students at the Museum of Somerset in our Schools in Museums partnership with SWHT.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

5.2 Community events

Since its inception, Contains Art

has hosted regular community

events and activities—always

provided free of charge to

participants—to encourage the

community at large and families

more particularly to engage

with the organisation and the

exhibitions that it hosts. The

focus is always of fun, practical

activities, good food and a

welcoming atmosphere.

These two years been no

different, and with the support

of a small award from Awards

for All, we have again hosted

many community activities over

the past two years, including:

• Springtime workshops at

Easter 2018 built around

the installation by Helen

Knight—with Helen delivering

workshops about origami

techniques for children.

• Summer Kids Art Day in July

2018 built around the Lumen

exhibition, with workshops

focused on illusion, sound art

and film.

• Autumn Art Day in October

2018 built around Lydia

Halcrow’s exhibition with

textures mapping and sun

exposure painting activities.

• Two messy art workshops

during the Easter holidays in

April 2019.

• Summer Kids Art Day in

July 2019 alongside Laura

Dekker's installations.

• Autumn Art Day in the Boat

Museum in October 2019,

alongside Lynn Dennison's

installation.

An important shift over these

two years has seen in the reach

of these events expand, no

doubt as a result of a marked

increase in our digital presence

and marketing activity (see

next section). This meant what

had been a very local audience,

primarily limited to Watchet

families (mainly ‘up our street”

in terms of segmentation),

appeared to be expanding to

families from much further

afield, actively seeking out

creative activities with for

their children (trips and treats

profile).

The implications are twofold:

on the one hand this is

a very positive development,

signalling both a wider reach

and a mark of the quality of

our events; on the other hand,

if this trend continues it has

implications for resourcing

and for an understanding of

the profile of who attends

and benefits from our events.

Of course, all are welcome

and we are very proud of

feedback about how many

people have met new people

at our events, but we do need

also to be conscious of how

a shift in attendance patterns

may impact on who feels

comfortable to attend and

whether these events continue

to be an effective means by

which to welcome in and reach

out to those who are naturally

harder to engage.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

A young participant at

Kids Art Day in 2019.

39


Final evaluation, January 2020

5.3 Digital strategy

The focus of our digital strand

of work is, as with educational

and community, intertwined

with our artistic programme,

was in 2018 boosted and

given real attention by the

Lumen Prize, Adventures in

Digital Art exhibition, which

reinforced our view that this is

a strong route to engagement

with a teenage audience.

Consequently, we worked with

Lumen Projects again in 2019.

We continued our attention

on social media for promotion

and engagement, using

facebook, twitter and

instagram and increasingly

using paid advertising on

these platforms to boost

reach. This has had a tangible

impact on audiences and we

will continue to monitor reach

and value.

We also continued our

successful approach of

creating our own video

content around the exhibitions

programme, in 2018 making

short films for Helen Knight

and Chris Dobrowolski’s

exhibitions, each of which had

wide reach, and which help

also to cement our reputation

for high quality video content.

In 2019, we also created video

flyers for both Jon England

and Laura Dekker's work, again

with significant reach.

With the help of our digital

engagement officer, in 2018,

we also produced a series

of short films in support of

the wider community of

artists involved in Somerset

Art Weeks. As above, we

have always successfully

presented films in parallel with

our exhibitions programme ,

however, in this instance, we

felt it would be rewarding

to make short films of those

artists who represent the

diversity of artists working

in West Somerset. This also

meant that the wider SAW

community of artists benefitted

from the content we were

commissioning, due to crosspromotion

with Somerset Art

Works. These three films can

be found at the following links:

https://youtu.be/AD-

M6M2MO7E

https://youtu.be/

Rr5mUW0ZQZs

https://youtu.be/7hIxQCJoR_8

Most significantly, however, in

terms of our digital approach

has been the launch of our

studiodigital initiative in

Autumn 2018, running through

2019 and into 2020

This ambitious programme

works with young people in

West Somerset to help them

explore digital and creative

futures and careers. It is our

response to the social mobility

challenge in West Somerset,

and our recognition that digital

engagement must be deep

and meaningful, especially

with a teenage audience, if

it is to have any substantial

impact in a world flooded with

content.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

The project is supported

over two years by the West

Somerset Opportunity Area

fund and serves to boost the

budget and resource we have

available in this area, as well

as filling the gap in match

funding for our Arts Council

grant that was left when we

were unsuccessful with our

Tudor Trust application in 2017.

The project launched with its

first cohort in October half

term 2018 and we have worked

regularly with that group

over four months with an

enthusiastic, diverse group of

local teenagers. We introduced

them to bloggers, YouTubers,

filmmakers, graphic designers,

VR creators, photographers

and gamers, all of whom

they have worked with them

to help them learn skills and

develop their ideas. In October

2018, we visited Plymouth as

a group, working with RIO to

introduce them to innovative

digital companies and

entrepreneurs and in February

took them to London to visit

the gaming exhibition at the

V&A, the ‘all that I know is on

the internet’ exhibition at the

Photographers’ Gallery and to

an interactive VR experience

at the Saatchi Gallery.

In 2019, we experimented

with different approaches,

for example working with a

group of students as part of

a work experience placement

and with a smaller group

of excluded students from

the West Somerset College.

These different approaches

presented their own

challenges but also equipped

us with some detailed learning

about how to more effectively

engage a teenage audience.

Overall our studiodigital

engagement with the often

difficult to engage 14-17 agegroup

has been positive.

We have sought out some

challenging groups of young

people to build confidence and

resilience in themselves whilst

unlocking a wide range of

digital skills that they are often

unaware they even have.

Most recently, as above, we

worked with a group of 5

young people as an alternative

provision week, all of whom

have BESD and are currently

working on a reduced

timetable, tailoring the project

to their common interest in

quad biking to create a quad

bike centre promo film. These

young people had become

completely disengaged

with education, but by the

end were making creative

decisions, using professional

equipment and editing

software and brimming with

confidence having learnt new

skills founded in their existing

technical know-how.

Our next studiodigital project

aims to link with local youth

centres to establish a new

youth provision solely for this

older age group whereby we

are planning to work with a

projection mapper to create

41


Final evaluation, January 2020

a visual spectacle on the

hoardings of the East Quay

Development.

‘Editing is actually pretty cool!

I never realised how films are

put together and what amazing

things you can do.’

Alternative provision student

from West Somerset College

It is hard to understate the

impact of this work even in

such a short space of time,

with just a few young people.

They have been inspired, are

excited about their futures

and full of ideas. The project

is already demonstrating that

digital engagement of real

value can be achieved but that

it needs resources, ideas and

to be anything but superficial.

Cohort 2 will launch in the

Spring of 2019, with two more

in 2020.

This project also necessitated

a review of the way that we

were resourcing digital work,

integrating the digital officer

work with the delivery of

studiodigital using producers

and facilitators as appropriate.

key lessons

Developing meaningful

digital connections with a

younger teenage audience

requires deeper, more

targeted engagement than

other audiences due to the

scale of competition for

attention. It must offer them

real value and interest. But,

digital is also a powerful

route to engagement

with a cohort who might

otherwise be very hard

to connect with. Doing it

well takes time, resourcing

and inventiveness. Our

experimentation with

different formats has

highlighted some especially

effective mechanisms and

others that require more

consideration and close

liaison with the schools.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

5.4 Audience feedback

“Strong programme, consistently stimulating, vivid presence.”

“Inspired me , entertained, and demonstrated that true art is not about decoration.”

“Opened my eyes to an extraordinary style of art!”

“The talk enabled me to engage in a different way and the food was delicious”

“The professionalism (with smiles) of it all, its aspirations and a very real rootedness. It is

becoming an institution which is vital to the town and area from the ground up but with broad

horizons and good eyesight”

“Local easy going and friendly. One can often chat to the artist and see friends who are also

visiting, sometimes those with whom contact has been lost or infrequent.”

“That art of an international standard happens here in remote Somerset.”

“The opportunity to show children artists’ work, and in some cases meet them, and have workshops

for small numbers. To see a different styles. But also, as an adult, I also appreciate these.”

“They are always interesting and the team have made huge efforts in many differing directions. I

like to support good and interesting regional artists.”

“The willingness to work alongside artists and develop exhibitions and events in partnership. The

team have created something which really does feel ‘owned’ by the local community - so much of

what’s happened seems unlikely and rare - massive congratulations!”

“Exhibitions from a variety of talent from local to international reputations. The container space is

more often an inspiration than a restriction.”

“Art on my doorstep.”

“Connection with fine art, with the sea, and with the paper mill historical culture.”

“More of the same, in a space or set of spaces that enable more of the substance, breadth and

quality. It would be very good to know that Contains Art will be here in a year, for nine years

growing and developing, and by then also having generated a very real legacy in two-way

encounters and relationships with a broader hinterland of makers and audience. It does a lot,

generates more, and legacy/archive maybe more publications would be appropriate in themselves

but also to lock some of this ‘in’. It’s important and not easy to say so with authentic conviction!”

“A far wider range of activity would be possible with a permanent building with artist work

spaces, spaces for adult art classes, film facility, cafe/social hub.”

“You lot are brill x”

“Best ever in CA’s history for me”

Quotes and figures (next page) from our audience survey conducted in December 2018. Survey not

conducted in 2019 due to not having a physical space.

43


Final evaluation, January 2020

92%

88%

88%

93%

85%

96%

92%

90%

90%

98%

98%

say the staff are helpful.

say they have met new people through our community events.

say it’s fun.

say the art at Contains Art challenges me to think differently.

think that Contains Art offers something different to other galleries.

feel welcomed at community events.

say the location is part of the charm.

find it inspiring.

feel comfortable visiting Contains Art.

say the artists and staff are friendly at community events.

say we show an interesting range of work.

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Final evaluation, January 2020

6. Key metrics

Numbers benefitting from our activity

Item Target Actual 2018 Actual 2019 Total

Artists 68 44 23 67

Participants 216 234 125 359

Audience (live) 25340 14,777 14000 28777

Audience (broadcast, online, in writing)* 43200 22,264 17169 39433

Total 68824 37,319 31317 68636

Results of our activity

Item Target Actual 2019 Actual 2019 Total

Number of new products

or commissions

Periods of employment for artists

(in days)

Number of performance or

exhibition days

Number of sessions for education,

training, or participation

52 48 15 63

188 98 110 208

191 126 388 514

44 22 21 43

*To note, the numbers for periods of employment for artists include expenditure from within the

studiodigital programme which exceeds the total needed for the ACE-funded programme alone,

but also of course also comes with more activity. Only the financial input from that project that

directly relates to items under a Second Chapter is included in the match calculations, but impact is

larger and more wide-ranging, as shown in the data above.

*A data below relate to 2018 + 2019 totals.

25,220

178,283

total facebook

video views

audience served by

facebook posts

216,166

10,498 Instagram

likes

twitter impressions

from 1,418 followers

45


Final evaluation, January 2020

7. moving into east quay

As we end our 2019 season,

we are delighted that the

East Quay scheme has now

started on site. In early 2019,

we heard we were successful

with a major bid to the Coastal

Communities Fund for £5.0m

towards a capital cost for

phase 1 of around £6.0m, with

grants also committed from

funders including the Esmee

Fairbairn Foundation, Magnox

Socio-Economic Fund and

the Coastal Revival Fund.

In October 2019, we learnt

we had also been successful

with a Small Capital Grants

application to Arts Council

England for £389,000, taking

the total secured to £6.0m and

enabling us to get on site.

Predictably, the impact

of Brexit and some

unanticipated engineering

challenges mean we still have

a capital fundraising aspiration

of around £450,000 which we

hope to secure in the coming

months, but we are confident

of our ability to now deliver

the build.

During this year, in which are

on site at East Quay, we will

operate through outreach

work and artforms that are

not necessarily based in a

traditional gallery setting,

in particular commissioning

artists to work with the

community into the lead up

to the opening show which

will have community of place

as its focus (working title,

More Together Than Alone).

Following his initial work with

us in 2019, we are intending to

work with Neville Gabie to cocurate

this exhibition framed

around a piece of socially

engaged practice.

Alongside this activity, we

are now working to secure

the gallery programme for

the first two-three years

of East Quay, alongside a

comprehensive audience

development strategy, as set

out in our updated Audience

Development Plan. The

focus is on exhibitions and

commissions within three core

themes that speak to our place

and our audiences. These

are: identity and belonging,

community and place and

climate and change.

Throughout this coming year

we continue to develop our

educational partnerships

with local schools, deliver

studiodigital and build

our regional presence and

partnerships. In particular, we

are looking to really boost

our educational work in

recognition of the evidence

of cultural capital in positively

affecting social mobility

outcomes for young people.

We are also looking to boost

our heritage-based work,

following the huge success

of our Wansbrough project

in 2017/18, and have recently

been awarded a substantial

Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

for a cultural-heritage project

that will focus on performance

artforms as a mechanism

of heritage engagement -

theatre, music, folksongs,

costume, spoken word.

We will continue to need

grant funding support for

our artistic programme and

educational initiatives in

the lead up to opening of

East Quay, and anticipate

submitting a project grant

application in the next two

months to enable delivery, and

in particular to commission

artists for the early exhibitions

in the new gallery. Moving

forward, we intend to apply to

become a National Portfolio

Organisation when the next

round opens this Autumn,

and have firm ambitions to

become one of the most

imaginative, challenging placeand

community-based arts

organisations in the UK.

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Final containsart.co.uk

evaluation, January 2020

47

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