Inside the London Summer Intensive

The London Summer Intensive Showcase, Camden Arts Centre, 2017. Photo: Hydar Dewachi

Each year over the month of August, a group of artists from around the world take up residence at the Slade School of Fine Art’s Bloomsbury studios as part of the London Summer Intensive (LSI). Now in its third year, the LSI, a four week residency programme co-led by the Slade and Camden Arts Centre, provides artists with a unique environment in which to experiment and make new work.

Talks, gallery visits and discussions with London-based artists and curators are balanced with time in the studio, with the project culminating in two public events: an open studio evening at the Slade Research Centre and a showcase of works-in-progress at Camden Arts Centre.

London Summer Intensive 2016 studio view, Slade Research Centre

Both organisations are dedicated to supporting and nurturing artists: the Slade is a world-renowned art school known for its lively and dynamic studio-led research culture; Camden Arts Centre, as well as a space for exhibitions and education, has an established residency programme which has welcomed the likes of Francis Upritchard, Mike Nelson and Anne Hardy through its doors since it was founded over 25 years ago.

Artist and educator Jefford Horrigan has acted as the facilitator for the London Summer Intensive since it began in 2015, serving as the main support for the residency artists. Here, Jefford gives a closer insight into the project.

“The idea for the London Summer Intensive grew out of the residency programme at Camden Arts Centre, and how to extend that to the wider world was developed through a dialogue with the Slade. Together, the two organisations collaborated to pool resources and know how.

This year, we’re working with 20 artists from 13 different countries. What we provide is an open studio right in the heart of London, an area blessed to be in close proximity to good artists, photographic and building suppliers, galleries and museums, but most importantly each other. That’s the point of the project — it’s very simple, bringing together artists with diverse attitudes and approaches to making work. The very best aspect of the project for all those involved — the residency artists themselves, staff from Camden Arts Centre and the Slade, the assistants, visiting artists and curators — is to bear witness to and be a part of the immense variety of strategies employed by the artists to provoke new work. Because the artists are working so close to one another over such a concentrated period of time, conversations are readily formed about the nature and approach to making art: to problems, struggles and validations of what constitutes appropriate criticism at any given time or situation.

London Summer Intensive 2016 studio view, Slade Research Centre

Although the project truly is intensive and hard work, what we don’t want to do is to place any pressure on the artist to ‘improve’ or ‘develop’. Some may feel they do, others may do the complete opposite and reappraise and take apart what it is they do. The atmosphere can be heady, funny and scary, very often all at the same time.

My job and that of the studio assistants is to help the artists make work, ease into the atmosphere of London and to create their own working environment as easily as possible. We are fortunate in being in a position to hand pick good artists with different technical knowledge and skills to take part as assistants. We also invite artists and writers such as Chantal Joffe, Harold Offeh and Sally O’Reilly to come in to the studios and share their own working strategies and the dilemmas they’re currently facing in making work.

The vast majority of the artists who have attended the London Summer Intensive in the past keep in touch with not only us but each other, automatically creating a global network. Many have gone on to make amazing work and be involved in major exhibitions as both artists and curators. We wouldn’t want to claim any credit for that; they are good and energetic artists in the first place. All we do is to create a place for that to happen here for a short time.”

London Summer Intensive 2017 participants. Photo: Hydar Dewachi

Participating artists 2017: Manuel Aja Espil, Haydn Albrow, Melis Boyaci, Magda Buczek, Christian Noelle Charles, Mayumi Enoki, Regine Fürst, Vemo Hang, Sivan Kaufman, K. Kissik, Katarzyna Klich, Laura Linsi, Bronwyn McMillin, Joonhong Min, Setareh Minoofar, Paul David Mitchell, Adriane Morard, Ece Nada, Jade Townsend, Emmaline Zanelli

London Summer Intensive 2017 continues until 26 August. The public are invited to an Open Studio at Slade Research Centre on Friday 18 August and the Works-in-Progress Showcase at Camden Arts Centre on Friday 25 August.

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