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The Artist's Journey #3

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Sheffield Institute of Arts

Fitzalan Square


S1 2AY

United Kingdom

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A two-day event of talks and presentations by artists and researchers on forging a career out of art

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The Artist's Journey # 3

13 - 14 February 2020 (Thursday & Friday)

The Head Post Office, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield S1 2AY

Being an artist can take you to places you never thought were possible, but the paths are unclear and the maps complicated.

Last year the people who we travel with joined us; journeys are enhanced by the people we meet on route, the friends who accompany us and the support of the places we go to.

This year we will not be travelling far but visiting the fringes shedding light on the practices, interests and groups that operate at the edges or outside of the ‘professional’ and formal structures or economies.

Day 1: Thursday, 13 February 2020

The first day is made up of invited artist presentations. While ‘professionalisation’ suggests the positive, necessary steps to becoming an artist, there are ‘improfessional’ practices that exist at an off-kilter relation to this imperative. Outside of the professional / unprofessional binary, what else do artists do, feel, or think as they build their portfolio, write their grants, or get on with these obvious tasks? And as both a direct or dissonant response to our art-making lives, what modalities of survival and thriving do we develop? How do we – or don’t we – maintain the balance, health, and motivation necessary to keep going as supposed art professionals?

The presentations will explore these questions in two thematically-based sessions: improfessional organising (morning) and improfessional trajectories (afternoon). The morning session will focus on ways of organising, with contributions from institutional as well as artist-led perspectives. The afternoon session will turn to the different pathways that artists have made for themselves.

9:30 – 10:00 Registration (09:30 – 10:00)

10:00 – 10:15 Welcome and introduction

Morning session: Improfessional organising

10:15 – 11:45 Three artist presentations and panel discussion chaired by Sarah Villeneau (artist, Material Voice collective)

11:45 – 12:00 Break

12:00 – 13:00 Longer artist talk with response and chaired discussion

Afternoon session: Improfessional trajectories

14:00 – 15:30 Three artist presentations and panel discussion chaired by Dan Russell (artist, The NewBridge Project)

15:30 – 15:45 Break

15:45 – 14:45 Longer artist talk with response and chaired discussion

Day 2 : Friday, 14 February 2020

The 2nd day is the result of a new partnership between Sheffield Hallam University and the National Association of Fine Art Educators and consists of a series of presentations selected from an open call by NAFAE (National Association for Fine Art Education) relating to the theme of ‘Improfessional’ practices.

Key speakers, full programme and itinerary to be announced in due course. Register to reserve your place and receive programming announcements.

Image: Unseen Untouchable (2019), courtesy of Manish Harijan


The Artist’s Journey conferences were founded through a partnership with the Art and Design department at Sheffield Hallam University and Yorkshire & Humber Visual Arts Network (YVAN). The conferences provide an annual discussion between individual artists and small-scale, artist-led collectives and organisations addressing (but not limited to) recent graduates and early career practitioners. The conferences build on support, guidance and critical discussion, offered as part of existing courses, within the local creative communities but also concerning national debate. By working in partnership we broaden the conversation, provide a rich, informed and sustainable way forward to enhance the many different routes we might take to establish ourselves as artists.

The conference this year is made possible with the generous support of the following organisational partners:

Art and Design at Sheffield Hallam University is an amazing, diverse community of artists – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. Sheffield is home to the UK's largest practicing community of artists and designers outside London, bringing a constant flow of creative energy and activity. We are an integral part of the vibrant and creative city of Sheffield and have a well-established professional development programme.

Bloc Projects is a not-for-profit creative organisation based within Sheffield city centre supporting artists at key stages in their careers through an acclaimed artistic programme of events, workshops, exhibitions and public commissions. Bloc Projects work with other local art organisations, universities and charities to ensure our activities welcome a diverse and intergenerational demographic, removing barriers to access across to all elements of our programme.

Mansions of the Future is an arts and cultural hub in Lincoln brought to life through a public programme of free talks, workshops, communal lunches and family activities, alongside national and international artistic commissions. Working with artists from inception to delivery alongside local communities, the three year programme privileges social, site-specific and collaborative ways of working.

NAFAE is the Subject Association for Fine Art education in the UK. We advocate the interests, promotion and cultural relevance of Fine Art education at Foundation, BA, MA and PhD levels. The Association aims to be instrumental in anticipating and shaping decisions that impact on the enhancement and future development of Fine Art by engaging with a range of constituencies.

YVAN works to be a voice and advocate for the visual arts sector in Yorkshire & Humber, delivering a programme that effects change in the profile, reputation and sustainability of the visual arts and artists in Yorkshire & Humber, and is part of the national Contemporary Visual Arts Network.

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Sheffield Institute of Arts

Fitzalan Square


S1 2AY

United Kingdom

View Map

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