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Burntwood's Cornwall Buildings new arts studio welcomes first residents

Two Birmingham artists, who won free studio space for a year in a specially created facility at Bruntwood’s Cornwall Buildings, have moved into their new residence.

Joyce Treasure and Suzi Osborn were among 25 applicants for Bruntwood-Grand Union’s artists-in-residence scheme designed to help kick start careers of young or emerging artists in Birmingham.

The new studio in the basement of the Grade II-listed building on Newhall Street is the latest step in Bruntwood’s drive to encourage greater support for the city’s arts and cultural scene from the wider business community.

During the next 12 months, Joyce and Suzi will use their residency to create art that reflects the Birmingham of today.

Joyce is developing a new body of work “Hymns” - a series of visionary narratives about being a mother, artist, woman and student in Birmingham. Suzi’s project looks to capture the surfaces of buildings as they are demolished and rebuilt, capturing the city as it changes through redevelopment.

They will also receive mentoring from Grand Union’s curatorial team and be invited to take part in wider Grand Union social and studio events.

Joyce said: “Art helps to shape a city and, by supporting artists like myself and Suzie, Bruntwood and Grand Union are facilitating this. Having a space to create, build and come to, even if just to think, is a privilege and I’m very excited about taking up residence at Cornwall Buildings. This is the first time I’ve had a private commission of this nature and I’m hoping this residency will lead to more in the future, as my work relies on dialogue and sharing stories.” 

Suzi added: “A lot of my work is inspired by architecture and the built environment, so having a studio space in the city centre will be great – it will also ensure I have plenty of room,  which is really important because I make objects, things that take up space.

“The Birmingham arts scene has so much going for it at the moment, the fact that there’s such a strong concentration of arts venues in one place is a something that defines the Birmingham scene as it is now and it’s worth holding on to. I think what will be really important moving forward is safeguarding our art spaces and I can see partnerships between organisations like Bruntwood and Grand Union being key to  ensuring art spaces remain an important part of the landscape of the city.”

Bruntwood operates in Birmingham and across the North of England and have a long term commitment to creating thriving cities while being a long-standing supporter of arts and culture.

At the end of last year they also chose Birmingham-based artist Joanne Masding, for her first permanent commission, Flimsy Signals, for the reception area of their redeveloped Cornerblock building.

Grand Union provides access to spaces to support artists in the city and the Cornwall Buildings residency and studio space initiative complements its existing provision of 12 artists’ studios, the Modern Clay ceramics facility, as well as their Birmingham City University graduate scheme.

For Rob Valentine, director of Bruntwood in Birmingham, the studio’s opening marks the latest step in a long-held desire to link the business community to other communities in the city in order to create greater numbers of economic opportunities for more people.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted that Joyce and Suzi have now taken up residence in the new studio in Cornwall Buildings which I am sure will help their creativity and careers to flourish.

“Our studio provides different facilities currently unavailable to artists in the city, encourages experimentation, innovation and cross-fertilisation of ideas and good practice outside of conventional studio spaces.

“This initiative widens the context in which art is created and enjoyed and both Bruntwood and Grand Union look forward to supporting the two chosen artists on their year long journey of development.”

As well as finding and nurturing talent and creating networking opportunities for artists at different stages of their career, the Bruntwood-Grand Union partnership aims to increase artist collaborations and develop new sites of studio practice within the city centre. It will also offer opportunities for knowledge sharing and cultural interactions between business and arts communities.

Additionally it will provide different facilities currently unavailable to artists in the city, encourage experimentation, innovation and cross-fertilisation of ideas and good practice outside of conventional studio spaces and help to improve graduate retention in the city.

Grand Union’s Collaborative Programme Curator, Jo Capper, said: “This marks the start of Grand Union’s collaboration with Bruntwood and is an important milestone for art in the city. Bruntwood recognise that arts and culture are vital to a city’s quality of life and their support is invaluable for the sector’s continued growth in Birmingham.”

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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