The Art Bank - where the currency is creativity.
The Art Bank (which was once the HSBC bank) in Shepton Mallet is home to the community-led recycled art program The Rubbish Art Project, aimed at inspiring social change, re-thinking the way we look at waste and at the same time creating a creative hub for our community.
Putting the finishing touches to 'A Thing of the Past,' a community-led art installation guided by Liz Janaway.
History of the Rubbish Art Project, Art Bank and Art Bank Cafe
The project was founded by Lucy and Mandy, who have worked together on a wide variety of projects promoting and implementing green initiatives at Glastonbury Festival. They collaborated with environmental organisations and charities, film makers and artists on projects that reduced festival waste and raised awareness of the festival's impact on the environment.
This knowledge and experience, twinned with a passion to raise awareness about the growing concerns of plastic pollution and waste, caused Lucy and Mandy to set up the Rubbish Art Project. Established as a community benefit society, it aims to inspire social change, explore new perspectives in considering notions of waste and bring people together to collaborate on artistic projects.
The Rubbish Art Project took on the lease of the former HSBC bank in April 2018; since then it has been receiving donations of materials both from the community and local businesses. With these materials we have been running creative workshops for different targeted groups, including local primary schools, Mind and the YMCA, as well as all-welcome community workshops. The stunning results of these workshops are now on display in the Art Bank as part of our 'Sheptopia' exhibition.
In July our Artist in Residence Dimitris Koutroumpas opened the Art Bank Café, a not for profit vegetarian café serving delicious drinks, cakes, sandwiches and pies.
The other core members of the Art Bank team are Dana Amma Day, James Barker and Liz Janaway although we are aided and assisted by many wonderful Sheptonians.
Over Somerset Arts Week the Art Bank has programmed a range of events to showcase the versatility of the hub as a venue for exhibitions, music, arts and talks.
What's Been Achieved So Far
The project has created a creative hub, the Art Bank, in the heart of Shepton Mallet, bringing fresh energy to a beautiful and historic town. Over the last 3 months artists and local people have collaborated to create work for the launch of the 'Sheptopia' exhibition for Somerset Arts Week 2018. The Art Bank has created an array of inspirational, engaging exhibits that give new life to waste materials donated by local people and businesses.
So far close to a thousand people have visited the 'Sheptopia' exhibition. It has proven so successful we have decided to extend its run well into October. We are proud to showcase work from artists and community collaborations as well as from previously unknown local artists who came to us with extraordinary artwork of their own, all repurposing things that will have otherwise ended up in landfill.
We also seized the opportunity to make 'Sheptopia' a mini-arts festival in its own right with offerings of special evenings of live folk music, spoken word performances, DJs playing reggae music and funky house and an environmentally-friendly clothes swap evening.
We have succeeded in both inspiring people to re-think their attitudes concerning one-use plastics and in creating some incredible pieces of art. This has happened thanks to the people of Shepton Mallet and its outlying villages; the support of the community has been overwhelming.
We want to continue to provide a much needed arts hub for the town and offer both a rich and varied program of workshops and events for people as well as a friendly ear in our cafe.
Artwork for the 'Sheptopia' exhibition by Dimitris Koutroumpas
Exhibits at Sheptopia by House of Lord (artists Kaye Dunnings and Willy Brothwood).
Exhibits at Sheptopia. Artist Jacqueline Adams.
What We Want to Do Next
We are looking at ways to ensure the Art Bank has a permanent place in Shepton Mallet, offering a diverse range of opportunities to get involved for all members of the community. We believe people's well being benefits significantly from inclusion in a creative, friendly environment and want to expand our provision of workshops and events to offer something for everyone. We are striving to secure further funding and support for the Art Bank's future- in the meantime we are asking for your help.
The money raised from our campaign will make a significant contribution towards the day to day running costs of the Art Bank so that we can continue with the project, programme events, run workshops, keep the Art Bank open and secure a long term future. We believe it is essential that artists are supported for their work. As a consequence, 50% of the proceeds (after the crowdfunder fee) from rewards that commission artists will pay the artists for their time and creativity.
The Art Bank in last-minute studio mode shortly before the Sheptopia launch.
Sheptopia exhibition launch, Market Cross, September 14th, 2018
Sheptopia exhibition launch, September 14th, 2018. Masks by Eleanor Wdosky commissioned by Dimitris Koutroumpas from his original collages.
But we are thinking beyond the next six months. The money raised from this campaign will give us the opportunity to grow the seed planted in Sheptopia, ensuring it is a yearly festival, showcasing the best work produced in a collaborative setting between artists and the Shepton Mallet community.
The Art Bank plans to work with all sectors of the community to ensure that our project is truly inclusive, offering equal access for all. Our programmes will offer creative learning and community building opportunities. The project will have 4 main areas of delivery:
· Community learning and innovation; enabling local people of all ages and abilities to participate in the life of a creative project, developing skills that contribute towards well-being and sustainability.
· Economic and environmental development; supporting individuals to gain employment skills and significantly contributing to local and national environmental targets and goals.
- Raising awareness around plastic waste and encouraging sustainable practice through creative activities and workshops. The Rubbish Art Project looks to find innovative ways of educating and engaging local people and visitors to promote an environmental message of buying less and shopping wisely.
- Making the Art Bank a diverse and exciting arts venue where arts, music, performance, talks, ethical markets and exhibitions can be enjoyed by the people of Shepton Mallet as well as its visitors. The Art Bank Cafe has already developed a loyal clientele who love its friendly and relaxing atmosphere, drinks and simple vegetarian menu. In the future, with an upgraded kitchen, the cafe will extend its offerings.
We feel we have already achieved a great deal in such a short time, thanks to the help and generosity of the community around us. Please help us with this extra push- we want to expand what we offer and can only do this with your support.
You can find out more about our project at our website www.therubbishartproject.co.uk
Or contact us...…. firstname.lastname@example.org
Working on the Art Bank lettering for the front of the building
The Art Bank Cafe