Meet the 2014 Connect10 artists – what could they do at your museum?

The artists taking part in the 2014 Connect10 competition have given us short statements about their approach to this project, intended as springboards that your organisation can use to devise event ideas.

Ready to submit your event idea? Fill in this simple form by 5pm on Friday 22 November.

This information is also available as a 7 page downloadable PDF here.

A man DJing

Fred Deakin DJing in Tokyo (c) Youki Mikami

Fred Deakin

As half of the band Lemon Jelly, Fred Deakin has been Mercury and Brit nominated, sold over half a million albums and headlined stages at almost every major UK music festival. In 1998 he co-founded the ground-breaking London design agency Airside, whose clients included Virgin Atlantic, the Beatles, the BBC and Greenpeace. It won and was nominated for two BAFTAs, a Webby and many other awards: after achieving all their ambitions the founders closed Airside on a high last year. Fred has been a tutor on Central Saint Martins’ MA Communication Design course since 1997. In the last year he has created interactive art for France’s national digital museum La Gaite Lyrique and released a solo album under the pseudonym Frank Eddie. 

Fred Deakin’s Connect10 idea:

I’d like to put on a day-glo game show party in the museum. I’ll divide the audience into teams (probably in advance – there will be a homework assignment) and then test their skills with a series of devious challenges based on the museum’s collection and all set to music. There can only be one winning team so competition will be fierce, with limited edition prizes for the victors and humiliation for the losers (not really.) And then we can all have a party to celebrate!

Two boys eagerly writing on a whiteboard by a caravan

Citizens contributing ideas for NowhereIsland (c) Max McClure

Alex Hartley

Alex Hartley is inspired by the built and natural environments, and works primarily with photography, often incorporating it into sculpture and installation. His work includes room-sized architectural installations and interventions, and large-scale colour photographs of remote wildernesses with invented low-relief architectural elements inserted into their surface. He is probably best known for his cultural Olympiad project Nowhereisland, which saw him float a newly-discovered island from the High Arctic region of Svalbard 2,500 miles to the south-west coast of England, where it became a visiting nation with its own embassy, amassing over 23,000 citizens and 2,700 propositions for its online constitution.

Alex Hartley’s Connect10 idea:

Nowhere Islandwhich to date has around 23,000 citizens and has toured most of the ports along the South Coast, relies entirely on the participation of the public. Alex is willing to get The Nowhere Island Embassy MOT’d and back on the road for a special Museums at Night experience if a museums came up with an interesting event proposal. With this as a base, Alex could explore the different threads (factual and fictional) that bind a community together.

Visitors could perhaps bring along items/objects to form the contents of a cabinet of curiosities with a local narrative that knits together these seemingly random objects. The form of this cabinet could echo the embassy truck – be built on a trailer, or be formed in a gallery setting with a structure built of random boxes, shelving units containing the objects and telling the story. Alex has been involved in many such collaborative projects/installations that have involved public voting, political/environmental activism, construction and planning applications.

Perhaps for one night only your museum could become a swimming pool, a skate park, an adult soft play space, a supermarket, a prison, a block of flats. Alex is very open to proposals and willing to travel anywhere in the British Isles. “I think that it could work well with a story teller. So whatever we make/do – for instance to make a cabinet of curiosities with objects people bring in – could then be structured into a narrative by a storyteller and performed with the object at the end of the visitor journey.”

A woman in white dancing in front of a painting

“Gotta Dance” (2010) – the public learnt a Gene Kelly tap dance routine led by Janette Parris. Image (c) Ed McCool

Janette Parris

With a focus on contemporary urban experience, Janette Parris’ work encompasses  narrative, humour and a range of popular formats from  soap opera, stand up and musical theatre, to live music, cartoons and drawing. Through this wide ranging framework of approaches she explores an assortment of themes including learning, perceptions of success and failure, aspiration and ambition. All of her work is suffused with narrative and humour, while the popular formats allow an immediate route into the fictional worlds she creates.

Re-contextualising familiar scenarios, Parris questions both what constitutes visual art practice and the role of the artist. With a focus on the ‘everyday’ and the common experience, her work often gives a humorous (or poignant) insight into the mundane nature of life.

Janette Parris’ Connect10 idea:

I would love to assemble a combination of actors, comedians, ventriloquists and puppets to replace or mix with the museum’s official tour guides a special evening of interactive story-telling. The tour guides would weave outrageously entertaining and largely fictional stories about the history of the objects on display, whatever they may be. These fascinating, anecdotal yarns will reflect the co-existence of the many versions of the ‘truth’ present in nearly every situation in life.  The aim is to encourage the wilful abandonment of objectivity and blow wide open the doors of imagination, creativity and fantasy.

As part of the visitor experience we could create and distribute a pamphlet presenting both the museum’s description of an object/artwork/artefact along with our own alternative version. And/or perhaps, for one night only, some artworks/artefacts in the collection could be replaced with extremely dodgy-looking copies. I am open to collaboration so proposals from museums are very welcome.

Detail from a colourful contemporary tapestry

Detail from The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal (2012) (c) Grayson Perry. Image courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes. The beauty of his work is what draws us close. Covered with sgraffito drawings, handwritten and stencilled texts, photographic transfers and rich glazes, Perry’s detailed pots are deeply alluring. Only when we are up close do we start to absorb narratives that might allude to dark subjects such as environmental disaster or child abuse, and even then the narrative flow can be hard to discern.

Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing us in with wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger, and incorporating autobiographical references to his childhood, his family and his transvestite alter ego Claire.

Grayson Perry’s Connect10 idea:

For Museums at Night, Grayson Perry will lend himself to the winning organisation for them to do with him as they see fit. Whether that be dissecting a museum’s collection and discussing its merits, delving into its dusty stores and digging out a selection of rarely seen treasures for display (as he did at the British Museum’s ‘Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ exhibition which he curated in 2011/12) or generally larking about with the public under the direction of the institution, this is a rare opportunity to work with one of the UK’s best-loved artists. Grayson is very open to suggestions, ideas & proposals from venues, but if you want to be in with a shot of winning, think fun with a capital F.

Thursday 15 May 2014 ONLY. The winning museum with have Grayson at their disposal from approximately 12 noon – 9pm: do with him what you will!

Grayson Perry lives and works in London, so the time it takes him to get home from a venue will be one of the considerations he weighs up when deciding which ideas to go through to the competition stage.

A woman standing inside a digital artwork glowing in a dark room

1000 Hands (c) Universal Everything

Matt Pyke

Matt Pyke (b.1975) is a UK based media artist working in the Peak District National Park and London. He is the founder of the digital art / design studio, Universal Everything. With a background in botanical and technical illustration, then design and typography, he often works with collaborators including programmers, musicians and choreographers.

His work ranges from mobile software art to site-specific video installations, and explores the tension between abstract and figurative form and the synesthesia of sound and image, leading to expressive, vibrant digital artworks, embodied with emergent life and anthropomorphism. His approach is led by materials, painting and sculpting with new technologies and formats including 3D printing, touch screens, motion capture and large format video, and uses sound in his work to stimulate visual reactions and amplify emotions.

Matt Pyke’s Connect10 idea:

Universal Everything interactive digital installation.

A video of a giant sculptural form is projected onto a gallery wall.
A microphone hangs in front of the projection.
Visitors speak/shout/sing/whisper into the microphone.
Their voices affect the video sculpture, causing it to transform, recolour and react.
Each visitor interaction gives a new appearance to the sculpture, ready for the next manipulation.

The stronger your input, the greater your reward.

For this installation, Matt will need to hire an HD projector and a microphone.

a black and white photo of a man winking

Self-portrait (c) Rankin Photography Ltd


Although Rankin’s lens has scrutinised a cast ranging from Tony Blair and Kate Moss to David Bowie, the Queen and singer Robyn (he is also a talented videographer, most recently with Cheryl Cole), the Glasgow-born photographer’s portraits all reveal a striking realism, whether or not his sitters are well-known. In 2009 he produced a striking series of shots of 1,000 gallery visitors which became an evolving part of the exhibition. Rankin has been involved in a number of charitable projects, confronting preconceptions: his photos for Nike were part of a global campaign raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, and his most recent major exhibition portrayed people with terminal illnesses.

Rankin is a truly versatile photographer with an innate ability to make visitors feel relaxed. His Connect10 appearance is certain to be as fun as the results will be revealing.

Rankin’s Connect10 idea:

In 2009 Rankin undertook the biggest project of his career. Rankin Live was a mammoth, interactive spectacle in which Rankin photographed ordinary people off the street, one every 15 minutes – retouching, printing and hanging the image within half an hour of the shutter being fired. In seven weeks Rankin managed to shoot over 1,600 Londoners.

Museums at Night is a golden opportunity for Rankin to further explore his unique interactive approach to photography and he is open to proposals.

A girl falling backwards onto crashmats

Invitation to Fall (c) Amy Sharrocks

Amy Sharrocks

Amy Sharrocks is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker, and winner of the inaugural Sculpture Shock award from the Royal British Society of Sculptors. She invites people to come on journeys with a sense of humour, joy and risk, which create a bond and an outcome that is rich and unpredictable.

For many years Amy has been investigating our connection to water. On 12 July 2007 she made SWIM, where 50 people swam across London via 15 lakes, lidos and pools, from Tooting Bec Lido to Hampstead Heath Ponds. She has floated her boat on swimming pools up and down the country and is currently gathering donations for Museum of Water: a large public collection of water that people want to preserve, in the container of their choice. Amy continues to make many walking, stumbling works across Europe, for many people or for one. She is currently encouraging people to sign up for Swim the Thames, a mass swim across The River Thames underneath Tower Bridge. She also spends a lot of time thinking about falling, looking at how we try to stay upright; how the world falls and how we fall with it.

Amy Sharrocks’ Connect10 idea:

I loved making a lot of ‘falling’ work this year, and I’m continuing to investigate the act of falling: stumbling, tripping, crashing, toppling over like lemmings. People are so determined to stay upright, so keen to be surefooted. I am very interested in why people link falling to failing, why we are so embarrassed to be down, when others are up. Where is the shame? I wonder at the complicity of an act of witness. I would like to un-shame our falls, to admit a lure of falling, inviting the risk in, approaching a moment of crisis, together.

A gallery or a museum could be a wonderful place to stage a large scale falling work – perhaps lit up in some way or in full view of the public – the aim is to create an environment in which to explore the exhilarating act of falling without any shame.

I wonder at gravity, which both anchors us, and presses us down. I wonder at the delicacy of each moment.  The shifting, fluid possibilities of each minute. I like looking at the world. I work with a lot of things from the natural world: seeds, trees, air, water, birds’ nests…  I think I know a thing, and then I know it differently every time. I enjoy (a little bit of) risk.

A group of people putting type together for a letterpress printer

Using the letterpress (c) Mr Smith’s Letter Press Workshop

Mr Smith’s Letterpress Workshop

Mr Smith’s Letterpress Workshop is the brainchild of Kelvyn Laurence Smith. Chiefly concerned with all things typographic and with quality workmanship, his focus is on creating beautifully crafted contemporary printed matter using traditional wood and metal type. From limited edition artworks to a range of commercial commissions for British Airways, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger, Mr Smith’s Letterpress Workshop was set up following a career teaching graphic design & typography at art schools across the land including Middlesex, Brighton, Westminster and Northumbria.

Mr Smith’s Connect10 idea:

For this interactive Museums at Night extravaganza Mr Smith will be taking his extraordinary Letterpress Workshop on the road. Under his direction and with the support of his team of assistants the public would be invited to create a typographic archive, the content of which is defined by the venue, its visitors and its collection.  The process of creating the content, thinking of the word(s), setting the type, choosing the colour & paper, inking up the type & printing the final work by hand defines what will be an extraordinary visitor experience.

In preparation for the workshop and to ensure that the finished archive is correctly stored and kept, Mr Smith would propose collaborating with a worker in wood to create a physical archive for the project to be left with the winning museum.  This could be a cabinet, a series of shelves or a display case, and would be discussed with the museum and other makers as part of the collaborative phase of the project.  This could be assembled on site over the course of the evening, allowing people to witness and participate in the construction of the archive as part of the evenings’ experience.

To make this interactive workshop all the more atmospheric Mr Smith could execute this by candlelight and without the aid of modern technology – perhaps even with no power – just (wo)man, machine, conversation, printmaking & language.

A group of nude bodies lying in an urban landscape

Installation (c) Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick stages scenes in which the battle of nature against culture is played out against various backdrops, from civic center to desert sandstorm, man and woman are returned to a preindustrial, pre-everything state of existence.  Tunick has traveled the globe to create these still and video images of multiple nude figures in public settings. Organizing groups from a handful of participants to tens of thousands, all volunteers, is often logistically daunting; the subsequent images transcend ordinary categories and meld sculpture and performance in a new genre.

Given the constant threat of arrest (which has happened several times in his career) Spencer has not undertaken a group installation on the streets of New York in over ten years. In order to make his work without the threat of incarceration, the artist decide to take his work abroad – his most notable installations have been commissioned by Art Basel, Switzerland (1999), Institut Cultura, Barcelona (2003), XXV Biennial de Sao Paulo, Brazil (2002), The Saatchi Gallery in London (2003), MOCA Cleveland (2004) and Vienna Kunsthalle (2008).

Spencer Tunick’s Connect10 idea:

Given the fact that Spencer’s large scale nude installations generally require big budgets and an enormous time investment, this Museums at Night event will involve a more intimate look at his practice. Spencer’s work with ‘scopes’ (individual miniature viewfinders, like the ones he’s is holding in his self-portrait photograph) allows him a more private way of portraying his nude subjects. Just as Andy Warhol used to Polaroid cameras to capture his subjects in intimate small spontaneous portraits, Spencer intends to achieve the same thing. The act of carrying around a private portrait that can only be viewed through a small lens is reminiscent of the way we all use our iPhones to take 21st century Polaroids.

Using this technique, Spencer is proposing a mass performative portrait shoot, either somewhere in Greater London, or at a coastal venue with access to a beach, within 2 hours drive of London. The exact location will only be made available to participants.

This is not a group work, but a series of quickly taken individual portraits. Spencer is looking for 100-250 volunteers to participate in this unique piece of performance art (an even split of men and women) – the application process will be explained once the winning venue is announced. Once all subjects have been photographed, each image will be inserted into its own individual keychain scope and given to each participant as a gift during a special artist-led event at the venue later that evening.

Because Spencer is based in the US and therefore unable to scout locations himself, this process itself will form the basis of the venues’ proposals. We invite London venues and coastal venues in Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Hampshire and East or West Sussex to suggest a location for this work.

Locations need to be: within 200 metres of the venue, visually interesting, preferably off the beaten track, preferably outside, probably quirky, possibly not and perhaps where there’s little or no regular traffic. Each venue may submit a maximum of 4 proposed locations – one good quality JPG photograph of the location and a brief description (25 words each max.) required.

This performance will take place during the day on Saturday 17 May. Later that evening Spencer would like to host a special event at the winning venue for all the participants. It’s during this event that the finished artworks will be presented to each participant. The only aim of the evening is for each person to walk away with a genuine Spencer Tunick artwork in their hands. But will they want their own image in the viewfinder or that of a nude stranger? Just one question this event can explore. It would also be interesting to find a way of displaying the complete collection of images taken earlier that day so participants get a sense of the project as a whole. The detail of this finale event is also open to proposals.

Saturday 17 May ONLY, within Greater London or South East coastal venues only.

Up to £1,000 of the venue’s £2,000 prize money is earmarked to pay for the scope viewfinders that Spencer will use for the event.

A group of people on a staircase dressed up as modern artists

Modern Art Stars (c) Lindi Tristram

Jessica Voorsanger

An American artist living in London, Jessica Voorsanger was recently an Artist-in-Residence at The Hayward Gallery where she created a dance performance based on the films West Side Story and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Her work explores popular culture through the concept and ideology of ‘celebrity’ – through obsession, fans and media representation. In Voorsanger’s interactive installations, the audience are invited to dress up and perform as celebrities, television characters or artists, with costumes, wigs, accessories, environments and props available for people to wear and something for them to do such as karaoke. She is inspired by books, film, music, television, fantasy and time travel and sweets – both their contents and packaging.

Jessica Voorsanger’s Connect10 idea:

For her Museums at Night event, Jessica Voorsanger could potentially reprise the Modern Art Stars (several people making portraits of the audience in the style of well-known artists) or Fan-a-Gram performances. Alternatively, she could create an interactive installation which could include some form of audience participation, possibly with karaoke and costumes.

Download all of this information as a 7 page PDF.

Ready to submit your event idea? Fill in this simple form by 5pm on Friday 22 November.

3 responses to “Meet the 2014 Connect10 artists – what could they do at your museum?

  1. Where do you go to to apply? I really can’t see it!

  2. Pingback: Can a small venue take part in the Connect10 competition? | Museums at Night Blog