Ever wondered who gets to choose the art we see in our city’s most popular galleries? Wonder no more…
Kenn Taylor, creative director, Artlink Hull, Princes Avenue, and chair of the Cultural Collisions Hull network.
Artlink Hull supports the creation and exploration of art with, in and about communities. Its base in Princes Avenue, to the west of the city centre, hosts exhibitions, workshops and other community-based projects.
Kenn Taylor has been creative director at Artlink since February 2017, a period that saw a huge rise in engagement, footfall and Hull UK City of Culture investment.
With a grand total of five full time equivalent staff, 2017 nevertheless saw Artlink engaging with more than 12,500 people. Highlights included the ongoing Square Peg programme, which explores diversity in the visual arts, notably Visible Girls: Revisited by Anita Corbin; A Sight To Behold with blind and partially sighted groups; Unexpected Engagement by Jason Wilsher-Mills; and John Walter’s Alien Sex Capsule.
Prior to working at Artlink, Kenn led community engagement projects in visual arts and museums in Liverpool, London and Leeds.
“Last year allowed us to grow, it was a great big cultural experiment,” says Kenn. “Now, our exhibitions will be going on for longer to make them more sustainable. We’ll also continue to do what we’ve always done – to be socially engaged and put a lot of energy back into working with communities and outside the gallery, as well as inside it.
“Our current exhibitions include Graft In Flux – Art In Prison by HMP Humber; and This Is Land by Matt Fratson, which both run until 28 June. Stinkedena by Skye Shadowlight, winner of our Square Peg bursary for a disabled artist based in the north, and Broken Paving by Hull artist Clarissa Dixon are the next exhibitions lined up, from 7 July. We’re also going to be working with artists from Ground Gallery on Beverley Road on an exhibition about Mad Pride; as well as participatory arts commissions for people with health and social care needs.
“Being from Merseyside, I have seen the effects of Liverpool’s time as European City of Culture. It was a great event, and when you consider the challenges of funding and sustaining culture, Liverpool is still seeing the positive ripple effects of city of culture now. It really showed this country what a city of culture can do.
“At Artlink, we are a small organisation, but we want to have a big impact. It’s about providing a high-quality programme, connecting with people, and working in communities and with different partners. It’s about different arts organisations in a city working together because the cultural sector is an ecosystem and we all have our part to play. That will be the key to attracting more investment and more visitors into the city.”