During their year at the Trust, each artist has 24-hour access to their own generously sized studio. Most studios are approximately 200 square foot and have their own dedicated lighting and power points. The building has a wet preparation area, toilets, Wi-Fi, and a kitchen/common room for the residents’ convenience. St. Saviours has a communal area with a large floor space, pristine white walls, and a dedicated lighting rig, which can be used as an additional workspace and a place to document artwork. There is also a well-maintained private grounds for socialising.
The Florence Trust offers a framework of support tailored to the needs of each artist. The core of the mentoring programme is a series of 1-2-1 sessions that take place through the year led by Director Paul Bayley and Curator Ashlee Conery. During these sessions artists receive a critical response to their work and advice on how to develop it further. They will also receive practical advice on subjects such as applying for grants, interviewing skills, presentation skills, drafting artist’s statements, and promoting their work within the London gallery scene. Bayley was previously Director of Visual Arts at Cornerhouse, Manchester and has also worked at Arts Council England and the Yorkshire sculpture park. Conery has worked in both commercial and public institutions, curating exhibitions in over five countries. Both offer different, but complimentary, advice on each artist’s work.
In addition to on-site support, resident artists benefit from 1-2-1s with invited arts professionals as well as members of the board of Trustees, increasing the amount of views each artist will experience in relation to their practice during their time in residence.
Visiting’s 1-2-1s include Pryle Behrman (curator, London Art Fair), Persilia Caton, (Associate curator, Photographers Gallery), Rosalie Doubal, (Associate curator, ICA) and Gill Headly (formerly Director, Contemporary Art Society) and George Vasey, (arts writer, Art Monthly).
The network of contacts that each artist builds is a key benefit to joining the Florence Trust. The most valuable network residents will tap into is the one made up of the Florence Trust’s past and present artists in residence. Artists participate in monthly peer critiques in which they present their work for discussion as well as workshops led by Florence Trust staff in which they discuss supplementary aspects of their practice such at their website, funding applications, CV, and artist’s statements. Regular contact with artists from different disciplines encourages a dynamic critical and interdisciplinary environment. Residents regularly build relationships that lead to opportunities for exhibiting or developing artistic projects together years after leaving the Trust.
The Florence Trust arranges guided tours of London exhibitions quarterly with opportunities to meet and question gallery owners and curators from both the commercial and public sector. In addition to this, the Florence Trust also arranges one group visit to an Art Fair, Biennial, or festival outside of London. Trips include Documenta 14, Athens; Glasgow International, Glasgow; and Art Basel, Basel.
The Florence Trust holds two-yearly exhibitions of current resident artists’ work. The Winter Open is at the mid-point of the residency in late January/early February. The Summer Show takes place in July and for it the artists’ studios are removed and the entirety of the church is used as an exhibition space. Both exhibitions are professionally realised, well attended and are excellent opportunities for residents to showcase their work. A full-colour catalogue that profiles each artist’s practice accompanies the Summer Exhibition. The catalogues are distributed widely and their exceptional quality means they remain a promotional resource for artists after they have left the Trust.
A PDF of the FT ’16 catalogue can be viewed here.
The Florence Trust also organises external exhibitions of its current and alumni artists. Past external exhibitions have taken place at Sluice Art Fair, London (2015); Royal Standard, Liverpool (2013); and London Art Fair, London (2011).