“Doing things with people rather than at them.” The Caravan Gallery
By Sara-Jayne Parsons, Director & Curator of the Art Galleries of TCU, Fort Worth TX.
Challenging recognized conventions of social documentary photography and employing a range of investigative strategies within a socially engaged practice, The Caravan Gallery is a collaboration between artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. Basing their activities in and around a 1969 holiday caravan which functions as a mobile exhibition venue, a center for research and a site for activities that engage visitors and encourage creative participation, The Caravan Gallery has presented a subjective and diverse interpretation of contemporary life in Britain since 2000. Using color photography to make postcards, prints, and a variety of publications, The Caravan Gallery produces and displays photography that responds to people and place, from the everyday to the extraordinary. Williams and Teasdale’s candid images offer cultural critique by arresting surreal or humorous moments; they provide, as one critic has concluded, “affectionate appraisal.”¹ They highlight eccentricities found in daily life and draw attention to ironic juxtapositions that might otherwise go unnoticed or underappreciated. Their simple phenomenological observations also capture the spirit of place and their photographs function as a semiotic framework through which to consider how people identify themselves and their environments.
With its quirky, vintage shape and canary-yellow paintwork, The Caravan Gallery is both eye-catching and curious; traits useful as a base for artists whose work often involves direct engagement with an enquiring public. In this way, the actual caravan acts both as a form of public art and a roving, practical space for display, discourse and commerce, subverting traditions of the bricks-and-mortar gallery space. Williams and Teasdale also recognize that some people are not comfortable visiting galleries and museums; they have not had regular exposure to such cultural organizations and sometimes, for instance, if from a working-class background, feel that these places are not for them. However, The Caravan Gallery, with its accessible activities and on-the-street visibility, can often help break down these types of barriers and encourage audiences to visit traditional arts venues.
The peripatetic nature of The Caravan Gallery also enables Williams and Teasdale access to a wide range of situations and subjects in various geographic locations, and simultaneously allows a diverse set of public audiences to engage with their work. Accessibility is a key strategy of their practice. They can, for example, host exhibitions and participation activities just as easily at an arts festival as they can outside a local grocery store or at a community event, or go to places where people might not have easy access to cultural institutions.² This model also makes it possible for the artists to make a series of visits to a single location, or to embed themselves in one particular place over an extended period of time.
As artists, Williams and Teasdale approached the collaboration of The Caravan Gallery from a position of being self-taught photographers with an interest in social documentary work that could affect change, coupled with an entrepreneurial drive to find ways to fund their work without commercial gallery representation. They perceive their being self-taught in photography as something of an advantage. They do not obsess about technical elements or process, but they want to make good photographs and indicate that visual elements of composition drive their aesthetic interests; they allow ideas to lead to images and often “content, color and creativity rule.”³
Over the years, through an evolving, dynamic and versatile approach, The Caravan Gallery has pioneered a ground-breaking form of socially engaged practice. From early beginnings close to home in Portsmouth and then all over the UK, to projects in Japan, Belgium, Germany, China and Lithuania, The Caravan Gallery has explored the possibilities of photography as a tool to record everyday life, to encourage social interaction and engagement with art, and to inspire and connect communities through sharing stories and images.
Refining a practice: research, presentation and assessment.
In the late 1990s, in the years before The Caravan Gallery, Jan Williams’ studio practice involved collage work, particularly using found materials that were often times simply rubbish picked up on the street during her everyday activities.⁴ These experiments later led to Williams exploring a longtime love of vernacular photography such as old postcards and kitsch seaside souvenirs, and she began making collages from tourist brochures that satirized and highlighted the often absurd claims of such promotional literature. Eventually Williams’ process of manipulating existing photographic imagery to make new constructed realities shifted and she began to use photomontage and then Photoshop to create images featuring surreal or irreverent situations that appeared to occur in everyday life.⁵ But from frequent people-watching and noticing odd coincidences happening around her, Williams arrived at the opinion that daily life offered moments that were bizarre and funny enough without artistic intervention. From this position she began taking straight photographs and using them to make prints and postcards, in reference to the tradition of British picture postcards. This work was a precursor for the first collaborative works that Williams and Teasdale made together as The Caravan Gallery.
Critiquing postcards with idealized tourist images captioned “Wish you were here,” The Caravan Gallery began to take photographs of what seaside Britain really looked like at the turn of the millennium. They started by photographing in their home town Portsmouth and surrounding coastal area. In 2000, the resulting images were printed as small photographs and postcards and displayed as an exhibition inside the caravan on the seafront at Southsea, a popular seaside resort on England’s south coast.⁶
On the success of this exhibition, in the same year The Caravan Gallery was invited to exhibit at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth.⁷ As well as a selection of their photographs taken around the city, The Caravan Gallery also introduced a participatory element to their exhibition whereby gallery visitors were invited to complete audience surveys. Visitors were asked simple questions about themselves, their close relationships, family, friends and neighborhoods, as well as what they liked to do in their leisure time. When completed questionnaires were displayed in the gallery alongside The Caravan Gallery photographs, the result was a fascinating and diverse arrangement of visual images and anecdotal details about the Portsmouth community. The positive responses to these early exhibition projects galvanized Williams and Teasdale, and in the following years The Caravan Gallery presented exhibition projects at various locations around the UK and began to experiment with different types of participatory activities. They began to refine their working methods through a series of steps involving research, presentation and assessment. This remains the core of their practice today.
When working in a particular location, Williams and Teasdale complete a recce of the area over a period of days and weeks, and do so without a script. Their approach is part flâneur, part social geographer: “we totally immerse ourselves in locations, walking for hours and miles, driving through and around places, all the while attempting to capture a sense of place in the photographs we take.”⁸ And while using guidebooks and tourist literature to determine “designated” landmarks or places of interest in the area, they also act on personal recommendations from people they meet casually through daily social interactions to guide their initial explorations.
Often The Caravan Gallery find themselves responding to communities and urban landscapes where regeneration and great social change is occurring. Here they are privy to poignant moments in time when layers of local history are laid bare; where built environments are about to be demolished or landscapes exist as liminal wastelands of in-between times. As psychogeographers they map their journeys with the camera and notebook. No location is without interest. Williams and Teasdale are connoisseurs of edgelands, or places that suggest the boundaries of urbanization; the soft estate between town and country.⁹ Their dérives and wanderings capture the overlooked and almost out of sight; parking lots are just as interesting as civic monuments in the forgotten Britain that they reveal.
From this exploratory position, Williams and Teasdale are able to build up a preliminary series of images that form the basis of their introductory exhibition in The Caravan Gallery at the location site. They present images that reflect a range of perspectives on the area including recognizable landscape views or alternative perspectives on clichéd landmarks or architecture, as well as closer observations that detail local cuisine, language or a distinct activity. Upon opening the exhibition, Williams and Teasdale welcome visitors and act as hosts, giving tours and encouraging discussion, such that The Caravan Gallery becomes a hub for engagement. The artists are accessible and accountable for their work in the exhibition space; their photographs function as a catalyst for conversations about the area, and significantly, lead visitors to reflect on aspects of local identity. The images are thought-provoking and sometimes help people see their home anew. Visitors are also asked to complete surveys to help The Caravan Gallery research the area and think about locations that might be considered interesting, unusual or off the beaten path. Through this simple but crucial method, the audience plays a role in how their home is presented.
Throughout this process of engagement Williams and Teasdale use accessible language to talk about photography and explain in simple terms how and why they take photographs. They also listen carefully and act on recommendations from visitors about other places to visit or things to photograph. Through listening and obtaining survey information, Williams and Teasdale create new photographs which are then added to their exhibition which expands over days into a richer presentation of the location. Throughout the process their interactions with the public are guided by the following broad goals: to expose people to new experiences and ways of looking; to empower people in finding or expressing their own creativity and being involved in, or contributing to, art-making; and, to find ways to break down barriers to engaging with contemporary art.¹⁰
An additional and significant aspect of The Caravan Gallery’s output began in these early years with the production of their first publication, Welcome to Britain: A Celebration of Real Life, published by Headline Book Publishing in 2005. Featuring over 500 color images the book presents photographs by The Caravan Gallery from all over the UK grouped under everyday subject headings such as “Dogs,” “Amusements” or “Shop Displays.” This collective showcase acts simultaneously as a souvenir, an alternative tourist guide, and as a type of archive or album of British life in the new millennium.¹¹
Contextualizing The Caravan Gallery
The new approach to social documentary photography that matured in Britain in post-World War II decades rejected forthright anthropological concerns and the remnants of 19th century social documentary traditions driven by an agenda for social reform. Instead, influenced by street photography practices and moving away from photojournalist endeavors, some fine art photographers sought expression for a more personal, subjective interpretation of daily life. An understanding of this shift informs and situates work of The Caravan Gallery, which navigates a liminal space between objective and subjective concerns. While the ambition of their mission evokes the scale and attention to detail of the efforts of Mass Observation, their approach is much more intimate and inclusive.¹²
Practical social documentary precedents for the approach of The Caravan Gallery can be perceived in the work of, for example, Shirley Baker, Vanley Burke, Chris Killip or Tony Ray-Jones; photographers who acknowledged their position in the representation of class and systems of power in their subject. Williams and Teasdale’s work also expresses a kinship with postmodern practitioners Martin Parr and Tom Wood, whose work is often positioned — albeit wrongly — within the genre of social documentary but who use photography declaratively for creative purposes. Both offer an ambiguous cultural critique of modern day Britain while simultaneously exploring formal and aesthetic concerns in photography. Their candid style of street photography displays a subjective resonance and is a long way from the quantitative and anthropological methodology of Mass Observation.
Echoes of Parr’s practice, particularly his concern for color and texture, and his penchant for the quirky and humorous side of everyday life, can be witnessed in many of The Caravan Gallery’s photographs. Wood’s influence is a little more indirect. With a reputation for deep engagement over long periods of time his photographs often relay a sense of trust from his subjects that displays a quiet compassion. Ordinary things are important to him and the people in his photographs are very obviously his subject. He knows them and they have come to know him. Certainly the efforts of The Caravan Gallery in building relationships with their subjects and engaging audiences to tell their own stories is reminiscent of Wood’s modest, humanist approach. But their practice extends beyond purely photographic or documentary concerns and reflects an overlap and dialogue with contemporary art strategies which seek to improve or draw attention to particular communities or social issues.
Socially engaged practice can best be described as having developed from a series of new strands of public art, performance and activism/consciousness-raising reaching back to the 1970s, to more recent ideas borne of artist participation and collaboration activities in the early 1990s.¹³ It refers to a post-studio social context for thinking about art and audiences, and it can occur in a variety of real and virtual locations. Essentially the practice involves an artist engaging with people through social interaction and discourse. It is a collaborative experience that can be participatory, performative or discursive, involving groups of people and communities and sometimes the development of outreach and educational programs. Often artists will work for long periods of time in a particular environment, and their connection may revolve around a set of questions or challenges facing the community. In this way, sometimes the artist is both a partner and protagonist in finding solutions or affecting positive change; something the ethos of The Caravan Gallery strongly reflects.
In the context of photography in Britain, socially engaged practice began to appear in the 1970s, as a result of postmodern strategies leading to the adoption of new methodologies and the subversion of conventional modes of social documentary. American photographer Wendy Ewald emerged as a significant figure and in her work she encouraged collaborators to use cameras to record themselves, their families and communities, and to articulate their aspirations and fears.¹⁴ Ewald’s vision led to a significant collaboration with Jo Spence and Terry Dennett in co-founding Half Moon Photography Workshop in 1975.¹⁵ As well as a gallery and journal publication, the organization also facilitated educational workshops and provided professional advice on using photography in the context of community politics, with a view to encouraging local grassroots activism.¹⁶
Years later Spence collaborated with Rosy Martin to develop ‘Photo-Therapy,’ which used photography to create personal narratives using techniques adopted from counselling. Photo-Therapy allowed the “subject” to take control over their own representation. It also, importantly, pointed the way to other exploratory ways to use photography in a social context, for example, in the area of health education. Both Ewald and Spence’s work has been credited with contributing to the development of Photovoice, a process by which people can identify, represent and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique. Essentially, the process allows for story telling through participatory and collaborative means.¹⁷
Outside of these London-based initiatives socially engaged practices in photography have been somewhat isolated and formal education opportunities for artists in the UK interested in this field have been few and far between until fairly recently. There are now several postgraduate courses in the UK that are specifically designated for the medium of photography, including the University of Salford (M.A. degree in Socially Engaged Photography Practice with Community Experience) and Coventry University (M.A. degree in Photography and Collaboration). The timeliness of such avenues of study could be understood as a critical response to the medium, to question the canon of photography and equip emerging photographers with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop a genuine and energetic expanded documentary practice which allows for multiple, collective voices.¹⁸
Certainly it appears that some challenges remain for photographers wishing to engage in a socially engaged practice, particularly around questions of authorship, visual aesthetics, ethics, and the question of how to evaluate success in this expanded context.¹⁹ Interestingly such concerns are also magnified in the age of multiple digital platforms where everyone claims to be a photographer.²⁰ For The Caravan Gallery, as artists and self-taught photographers, their practice has developed over time, through trial and error, fueled by genuine curiosity about people and places. Their partnerships with a variety of art institutions and funding organizations committed to supporting arts in diverse and underrepresented communities have also informed their work. To Williams and Teasdale, a socially engaged practice means “doing things with people rather than at them” and they express skepticism at recent trends, echoing some of the concerns outlined above:
“The term [socially engaged practice] has become so ubiquitous that it has become rather meaningless.We believe it’s about having good, honest conversations with people, being genuinely interested in what they say and do, not making presumptions about people and places, empathizing, being prepared to listen and learn, making real human connections and not treating people like commodities, exhibits or zoo animals.” ²¹
In 2011 Williams and Teasdale expanded their established method of social engagement surrounding an exhibition of their photographs in The Caravan Gallery and began using empty shops as a pop-up venue and extension of their activities. As such, the “Pride of Place Project” has now become one of the major models for how The Caravan Gallery connects with audiences for participatory activities in different locations. Initially the idea for the “Pride of Place Project” came from the solution to a practical problem when SPACE Gallery at the University of Portsmouth was unable to financially support the artists in the production of an exhibition. Williams and Teasdale suggested as an alternative to payment that they would show their photographs in half of the gallery, while the rest of the space would be occupied by work made local people in collaboration with and in response to the work of The Caravan Gallery.²²
The practical arrangement corresponded to the philosophical position of The Caravan Gallery, which had been moving to this position for some years. Williams and Teasdale had been witnessed great enthusiasm in their audiences who expressed a desire to join in with their creative explorations of place, but the scale of the caravan prevented this to a degree. The addition of a pop-up temporary space met the desire to accommodate the contributions of a larger audience and ambitions of Williams and Teasdale around the scope of engagement and inclusiveness. Indeed The Caravan Gallery has now successfully used the format of the “Pride of Place Project” on numerous occasions at various sites in the UK, as well as in Belgium and Lithuania, and have welcomed thousands of visitors since 2011.²³ In any iteration of the project, a common defining factor is that photography plays significant and integral role as a documentary medium or an interpretive device.
For Williams and Teasdale the goals of the “Pride of Place Project” revolve around creating closer partnerships to establish a deeper collaboration with local people in the making of their exhibitions. Building on from their established practice, they recognize the importance of creating a unique social space where people can meet, share, make and display their art work or creative contributions to the project. A pop-up space also allows the artists to create situations to develop camaraderie through hospitality, by hosting celebratory events that bring together a wide range of people, for example, from regular participants and neighboring shopkeepers, to community activists and local government officials.
Alongside an evolving exhibition of their own photographs made ahead of time in the area as a catalyst for discussion, Williams and Teasdale add a series of activities to each “Pride of Place Project” which invite direct contributions from the public. These include “The Peoples’ Map,” where visitors are invited to write on special places of personal significance on a map of their town; “The Peoples’ Wall,” where visitors can add their own artefacts, drawings, poems, photographs or other anecdotal material to make their own display about their town; “The Creation Zone,” for drop-in workshops hosted by local artists or writers that focus on writing and storytelling using photographs; a place for local souvenir making and display; “Photography Competitions” based on an open-call for place-specific photographs; and of course, a visitor survey. Williams and Teasdale also offer the pop-up space as a platform to local residents, artists, writers, historians or musicians who wish to respond to the area and host their own events.
Collectively, all the activities that take place under the umbrella of the “Pride of Place Project” coalesce around questions of identity, self-representation, community, memory and aspiration, which, when explored creatively, produce material that ultimately reveals the spirit of a place. To capture this (the process and the results), all avenues of engagement in a “Pride of Place Project” are documented and published in book form by The Caravan Gallery to provide an archive of the project.²⁴ The publication also acts as an alternative tourist information guide for future visitors to the location. But the artists don’t see the end of the project as a door closing, but rather that creative engagement will continue without them; that their pop-up model will inspire others and provide a platform for local artists. Ultimately, they hope that community cohesion will bring new collaborations and artistic initiatives.²⁵
Understanding the model of The Caravan Gallery’s “Pride of Place Project” in its practical application is useful and highlights a particular development in social documentary practices in post-millennium Britain. At the same time, further reflection on the role of photography in remembering and (re)presenting place by participants demonstrates some of the mechanisms by which collective cultural memory is revealed. Their use of photography is manifold throughout their engagement in the project. Participants begin by viewing exhibition photographs made by The Caravan Gallery from initial research attempts. The act of viewing can elicit a response in the participants which, through discussion with the artists, may be revealed as a memory relating to the subjects depicted or the recall of things forgotten. From this moment, participants can continue sharing, within their range of comfort, to where they make or contribute their own photographs and materials to the exhibition. Significantly, at this point the authorship of the “Pride of Place Project” passes from The Caravan Gallery to the participants. Williams and Teasdale’s use of photography in multiple ways creates a rich process of defining identity and place that enables audiences to picture themselves.
The traditional agenda of social documentary photography has changed, from the use of the photograph to drive social reform through government policy, to the use of photography at grassroots level as a transformative agent for individuals and communities. The social impact of the participatory work of The Caravan Gallery has been qualitatively recorded for the Arts Council England; their work directly and positively affects participants across broad social domains including health and well-being, social inclusion and cohesion, community identity, community empowerment, and skills and knowledge.²⁶
¹ Samuels, Sean. “Carry on camping.” Photography Monthly, issue 123, July 2011, 25.
² Williams, Jan. “Leisure, landscape, and lifestyle.” [a-n] magazine, December 2001, 38.
³ Chris Teasdale, email communication with the author, March 29, 2018
⁴ Before establishing The Caravan Gallery both artists attended the University of Portsmouth and were engaged in art-making and research largely unrelated to photography. With a degree in Fine Art, Williams worked in a range of media (notably drawing and collage) and exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Teasdale studied biology and worked in stained glass. Both had experience of working in the tourist industry in the UK and Europe, through managing businesses in bus tours, retail and accommodation that involved working with the general public, and in situations that gave them the ability to understand, communicate and work with people all levels of society. This was vital to their later work involving community participation. Guest lecture by Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, “The Caravan Gallery,” at the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, February 19, 2018.
⁵ Williams’ collage work references a well-known art historical legacy of artists using found materials and photographic imagery to create new realities, including the work of Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Richard Hamilton and Martha Rosler.
⁶ ‘The Caravan Gallery Millennium Experience’, Southsea seafront, an Art Space Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council commission, 2000.
⁷ “About yourself: an exhibition all about you,” Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, 2000.
⁸ Samuels, Sean. “Carry on camping.” Photography Monthly, issue 123, July 2011, 25.
⁹ Farley Paul and Michael Symmons Roberts. Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness. London: Jonathan Cape, 2011.
¹⁰ Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. “The Caravan Gallery,” University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, February 19, 2018.
¹¹ After this initial publication, Williams and Teasdale began to publish their own books, beginning with the follow-on series Is Britain Great? which was published by Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth to accompany the exhibition of the same name in 2006. Volume 2 was published by The Caravan Gallery alone in 2009, and volume 3 was published by The Caravan Gallery in association with Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2011. An exhibition of works from volume 3 toured to Paul Smith Space, Tokyo, Japan. Significantly it is worth remembering that outside of London there are very few photography-specific commercial galleries or opportunities for photographers to sell their work unless they are working within a photojournalistic arena. In this context, it is not surprising that the creative engagement of The Caravan Gallery extends to its entrepreneurial activities. Certainly, in the early 2000s, as the development of digital technologies led to a revolution in self-publishing through online platforms, The Caravan Gallery’s publications were part of the revolution that transformed the photo-book tradition in the UK. As well as selling their books through their website, The Caravan Gallery also essentially act as their own distributors as they move around the country.
¹² Launched in 1937 with the goal of creating a visual anthropological record of Britain, Mass Observation involved a team of objective observers and volunteer writers who studied and recorded the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain, through diaries, reports and photographs. Resulting materials were collected and presented through numerous books and reports, and were generally regarded as a scientific but popular resource for evaluating public opinion and social trends. There was no visual precedent for such a widespread and ambitious, domestic documentary survey of this nature in Britain. Although now regarded as a classic collection of photographs, the legacy of Mass Observation has received mixed attention by photo historians and much of the material it produced has since mostly been regarded as problematic or has been entirely neglected by postmodern anthropologists. The remit of creating “an anthropology of ourselves” in a society weighted down by a rigid class system was challenging. As critics have pointed out, despite the empathetic and earnest political ethos of Mass Observation, the project was driven from an essentially white, middle-class, privileged perspective which often meant that the working class and other minority subjects were viewed as a type of exotic species. Harrisson, Madge and Jennings, “Anthropology at Home,” New Statesman, January 30, 1937, 155; Frizzell, Deborah, Humphrey Spender’s Humanist Landscapes: Photo-Documents, 1932–42. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1997, 24–27; MacClancy, Jeremy, “Mass Observation, Surrealism, Social Anthropology: a present-day assessment,” New Formations, Autumn 2001, 44.
¹³ Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso, 2012, 1–9; Jacob, Mary Jane. Culture in action: a public art program of Sculpture Chicago. Seattle: Bay Press, 1995, 10–13; Lacy, Suzanne, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art. Seattle: Bay Press, 1994, 19–46.
¹⁴ In the U.S. Ewald also created “Literacy through Photography” in 1989, a program that teaches children how to take photographs and writer about their lives. It is still in operation in several locations across the U.S., including Houston where it is homed with FotoFest, the international photography festival, and reaches over 1000 public school children.
¹⁵ Bertrand, Mathilde. The Half Moon Photography Workshop and Camerawork: catalysts in the British photographic landscape (1972–1985) in Photography and Culture, London: Taylor and Francis, 2018, 9.
¹⁶ It is worth remembering that at this time Spence was also a founding member of the Hackney Flashers, a collective of artists who used photography to document the invisible work of women in and outside of the home to highlight social and economic issues facing contemporary women.
¹⁷ Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris, “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment,” Health Education & Behavior 24, 3 (June 1997): 369.
¹⁸ Turnbull, Gemma-Rose. “Surface Tension. Navigating Socially Engaged Documentary Photographic Practices.” Nordicom Review 36 (2015) pp. 79–95. Turnbull suggests that because socially engaged practice in photography doesn’t fit the canon of documentary photography, a contemporary socially engaged practice appears to be somewhat underexplored in the medium. Also, there still exists a tension between engagement with people who were previously perceived as “subjects” as opposed to now being co-creators of photographs.
¹⁹ Turnbull, Gemma-Rose. “Surface Tension. Navigating Socially Engaged Documentary Photographic Practices.” Nordicom Review 36 (2015) pp. 79–95; Orpana, J. “Turning the world “inside out”: Situating JR’s wish within cultures of participation.” RACAR, 39(1), 73–75.
²⁰ Turnbull, Gemma-Rose. “Surface Tension. Navigating Socially Engaged Documentary Photographic Practices.” Nordicom Review 36 (2015) pp. 79–95; Luvera, A. Residency. Photographies, Vol. 3, Iss. 2, (Sep 2010): 225.
²¹ Jan Williams, email communication with the author, March 29, 2018.
²² Chris Teasdale, email communication, March 29, 2018. Portsmouth Pride of Place Project
²³ The Pride of Place Project National Tour 2014–2016 evolved from The Caravan Gallery’s approach designed to connect and encourage crossover between art and non-art audiences and in formal and informal venues. This multi-city UK tour presented six iterations and welcomed nearly 14,000 visitors. Partner arts organizations in this tour received an additional 49,000 visitors. Fowler, Mandy. Arts Council England Strategic Touring Grant Evaluation: The Caravan Gallery, Pride of Place Project, 2017, 5. In the Sandwell Pride of Place Project which was recently commissioned by Multistory for Blast! Festival 2019, The Caravan Gallery took over a former Poundland shop for 6 weeks attracting over 200 visitors a day. This short BBC Midlands Today TV feature celebrates The Caravan Gallery’s biggest and most ambitious project to date.
²⁴ The Caravan Gallery also uses social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to document “Pride of Place Projects” and provide a virtual archive of their activities alongside the publication.
²⁵ Jan Williams, email communication, March 29, 2018. It is also important to note that all items donated by the public to a “Pride of Place Project” are archived and stored by the artists for retrospective use.
²⁶ Fowler, Mandy. Arts Council England Strategic Touring Grant Evaluation: The Caravan Gallery, The Pride of Place Project, 2017, 19–23.