(Re)Presenting C.R.A.P. and the Centre for Regional Arts Practice – Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart Founders: Centre for Regional Arts Practice
C.R.A.P. and the Centre for Regional Arts Practice
For around 25 years we have operated an art practice in regional Australia. Before that we lived and worked in Brisbane, a place that in many ways could also be considered as being ‘regional’.
In 2007 we were recipients of a Bundanon residency. This opportunity enabled us the time and space to explore potential directions for our work individually and collaboratively in both our academic and professional practice. Arising as salient issues to address were questions on what it means to be a regional arts practitioner working outside the major city cultural hubs.
Our conversations around these issues inspired us to establish the Centre for Regional Arts Practice, (acronym C.R.A.P.) and, as artists’ book makers, we saw the opportunity to produce a democratic multiple to present our perspective on regional artist experience and to develop C.R.A.P. manifestoes. The first edition was concerned with identifying key aspects of the regional condition and was presented in the form of a survey to share with other artists from all parts of the cultural environment. Artists interacting with the book would answer questions that we posed to find out whether they qualified as a regional artist.
All of our C.R.A.P. Artists Survey Books draw upon humour and irony of the prosaic routines and events encountered in life of a regional artist. These publications were produced in editions of 25 with 5 artist’s proofs. They are humble handmade books with hand-set rubber letter texts onto art papers sourced from the seconds or damaged sale tables in local art supply shops. Later editions utilised digital output or desktop inkjet printing technologies. These books are offered for sale but are more often shared with our fellow artists.
The C.R.A.P. and its Artists Surveys have become a vehicle for highlighting, critiquing and questioning many issues both local and global affecting regional artists. For example editions have included the following: Swine Flu; Global Financial Crisis; Extractive Mining Industries; ant infestations of art studio; flood events and collaborative productions with a regional artist living in Thailand, a group of regional artists in Northern NSW and one of an event with Toowoomba artists.
C.R.A.P. is also represented online as https://regionalartspractice.com and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pg/CentreForRegionalArtsPractice/. The blog gives a presence to regional arts issues, activities and events that may otherwise been invisible to the broader community. Activity in the C.R.A.P. space can at times be limited due to the pressures of our art activities. As it is our desire for C.R.A.P. to grow as a centre for regional artists, we have formally registered the Centre for Regional Arts Practice as a trading name for Cooper+Spowart.
Ultimately, the mission of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice is to find and exploit cracks in the walls of the cloistered academic and the self-perpetuating city arts networks in order to share and comment on regional stories. C.R.A.P. is an evolving space but grounded on the commitment to support these vital and interesting communities of practice, their issues and activities.
Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart
Founders: Centre for Regional Arts Practice