We're 50! - Camden Art Centre

In 2015/16 Camden Arts Centre celebrated its 50th birthday. The centre has become an internationally renowned art space, continually recognised for excellence in education alongside a forward thinking, ambitious exhibitions programme housed in a Grade II listed building in North London.

We are proud to be a place where art is made as well as seen, our commitment to this evidenced in our long-established residency programme and in the working studios, where people of all ages can exercise their own creativity in courses, schools days and education projects.

To mark the anniversary, we present five lectures looking back on the important role public institutions such as Camden Arts Centre have played in making art accessible for everyone, fostering careers of artists and showcasing challenging work over 50 years. In association with the lecture series, we are publishing a special set of File Notes reflecting on similar themes and written by experts in the respective fields.

In summer 2015 we launch our Online Archive, presenting images, texts and multimedia materials detailing our work with artists over the years and highlighting recurring themes which have peppered the programme over the years.

On Sunday 13 September we open the studio doors to let people of all ages experience activities from the artist-led education programme we are so proud of. Everyone is welcome to come and partake in the first official celebration of Camden Arts Centre’s 50 years of inspiring art.

During this celebratory year we also launch our Youth Collective, working with young people aged 15- 25 years, and we begin working with new archive volunteers from the local area to sustain the future of our archive.


Events Lectures

Archive: Ladies of the Press*

18 – 23 August

Camden Council invites the Ladies of the Press* to interact with Camden Arts Centre’s exhibition archive for a week, as both organisations start the celebrations of their 50th anniversaries. The public are invited to open studio sessions with the Ladies of the Press* from 3.00 – 5.30pm, Tuesday through Friday.

Ladies of the Press* is Ana Čavić, born 1979 in Foča, Yugoslavia, and Renée O’Drobinak, born 1985 in Tokyo, Japan. They both live and work in London. Recent performances include: Sex and the Stereotype, Whitworth Gallery, Manchester (2015); Camden 50 at House of Illustration, London (2015); BMW Tate Modern Thought Workshops 4, Tate Modern, London (2014); Wirksworth Festival, Wirksworth (2014); Science Museum Lates, Science Museum, London (2013); Ovi Novi Zinovi!/These New Zines!, Kulturni Centar Grad, Belgrade, Serbia (2013).

Performance: Ladies of the Press*

Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 August
1.30 – 5.00pm

Ladies of the Press* produce and print a zine featuring inspiring women from Camden as part of their current project with Camden50, Join in with printing of the press at 4.30pm each day.


50th Anniversary Lecture Series

1 September 2015 – 26 April 2016

In 2015/16 Camden Arts Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary and, to mark the occasion, we are presenting five lectures looking at the important role public institutions such as Camden Arts Centre have played in making art accessible for everyone, fostering careers of artists and showcasing challenging work over 50 years. The series of talks will invite back artists from our archive of ambitious exhibitions, events and residencies who, alongside prominent curators and theorists, will discuss how institutions today are building upon this history. Focusing on the establishment of public institutions in the 1960’s, alternatives to conventional art education, globalization of the art world, residencies and philanthropy in the arts, the talks will consider how we can develop sustainable cultures of change, giving prominence to and nurturing under represented and emerging artists during uncertain times for the arts.

Talk 1: 1960s and the Public Institution
Talk 2: Alternative Art Education
Talk 3: Artists’ Residencies
Talk 4: Redefining Narratives of Contemporary Culture
Talk 5: Philanthropy and the Arts

Alongside the talks we will be publishing a reader, which will feature texts by invited writers responding to and expanding upon the themes of the five talks.

Sunday 13 September, 12.00 – 5.00pm / free

Come and celebrate 50 years of Camden Arts Centre! Free, fun artist-led activities take place throughout the Centre. Take part in a group performance inspired by our archives, drawing in the Hannah Collins exhibition, ringing bells in the Garden and the weekly family drop in workshop Make and Do in the Drawing Studio. Artists taking part in the Summer Takeover include Caroline Achaintre, Corinne Felgate, Matthew Larkinson, Aaron McPeake, Jake Spicer, Nicole Vinokur and Demelza Watts.

A one-day exhibition of work made in our Ceramics Studio will be on show celebrating 50 years of courses and workshops in our Artists’ Studio. Tweet in a picture of your own ceramics works or share on Instagram using #CAC50. The exhibition is accompanied by a selection of items from the archives which explore the history of ceramics at the Centre.

We also invite you to explore our digital archive on the day and join us in the Garden where our Café will be serving a summer BBQ from 12.00pm.Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund

Schedule for the day:

An Anniversary of Hysteria
Wondering performance, rehearsals in the meeting room
With Corinne Felgate
Corinne Felgate invites visitors to re-stage and bring to life fantastical spectacles from Camden Arts Centre’s past. Wear costumes and sculptures made by the artist, rehearse as a group and then perform prose in spaces across the building. An artist film of the event will be made during the day. Sessions start on the hour and the half hour, places are limited.

Beast Dentistry
Ceramics Studio
With Caroline Achaintre
Join Caroline Achaintre in the Ceramics Studio to repair the broken teeth of mythical beasts and fit them with a new pair of ceramic dentures. Sessions start on the hour and the half hour, places are limited.

With Aaron McPeake
Aaron McPeake has installed a number of bells in Camden Arts Centre’s Garden alongside his work Toll, initially installed in April 2013. Visitors are also invited to share the finishing process of five singing bowls, which Aaron will donate to the Centre. The bowls will be available to buy as editions after the takeover, ask at the bookshop for more information. Aaron is in the Garden: 12:00-1:30pm, 2:00-3:30 pm, 4:00-5:00pm

Life drawing
Gallery 1
With Jake Spicer
Jake will be leading a family friendly life drawing session set among Hannah Collins large scale photographs in Gallery 1. This fun drop in session will look at how approaches to life drawing have changed since the Centre first opened in 1965 and is suitable for those with and without experience. Drop in: 12.00-1.30pm, 2.00-3.30pm, 4.00-5.00pm

Demelza Watts and Nicole Vinokur
Join recent RCA graduates to discuss 50 years of exhibitions by female artists at the Centre. Whilst you talk decorate a cotton bag with quotes, exhibition titles, artist names and your thoughts and take home your own piece of the archive. Drop in: 12.00-5.00pm

Make and Do
Drawing Studio
With Matthew Larkinson
Matthew Larkinson is in the Drawing Studio exploring Hannah Collins’ photographs of Noah Purifoy’s assemblages and Eric Bainbridge’s exhibition from the archive. Visitors are invited to fold, bend cut and stick largescale colourful paper to make their own sculptures and assemblages inspired by the work of all three artists. Drop in: 12.00-5.00pm

Ceramics Exhibition
Artists’ Studio
To celebrate 50 years of ceramics at Camden Arts Centre we have invited course attendees, ceramic tutors and past residency artists to exhibit work they have made at the Centre over the last 50 years. The exhibition is accompanied by a selection of items from the archives which explore the history of ceramics at the Centre. Drop in: 12.00-5.00pm

50th Anniversary Lecture Series: Talk 1: 1960s and the Public Institution

In 2015 Camden Arts Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary and, to mark the occasion, we are presenting five lectures looking back on the important role public institutions such as Camden Arts Centre have played in making art accessible for everyone. This series begins with a discussion between Sir Nicholas Serota, Director at TATE, and artist Jeremy Deller. They consider how the establishment of public institutions such as Camden Arts Centre, Arnolfini and Modern Art Oxford, that were built in the 1960’s, brought art to the people, the opportunities that the formation of these spaces enabled, and the challenges they now face to remain open and accessible in the changing landscape of today’s art world. Jenni Lomax, Director of Camden Arts Centre, will chair the discussion.


Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, The London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts. Special thanks to Camden Council

50th Anniversary Lecture Series: Talk 2: Alternative Art Education

Thursday 22 October, 7.00 – 8.30pm
Royal Academy Life Room, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD

In 2015 Camden Arts Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary and, to mark the occasion, we are presenting five lectures looking back on the important role public institutions such as Camden Arts Centre have played in making art accessible for everyone. Artist Michael Craig-Martin; artist, curator and Head of the Royal Academy Schools, Eliza Bonham Carter; and curator and co-founder of Open School East, Anna Colin, discuss alternative education spaces alongside mainstream art school models and consider the sustainability of these alternative spaces: how they may serve as political acts to question current pedagogical systems and whether it is possible for both frameworks to work together.

Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, The London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts. Special thanks to the Royal Academy 

50th Anniversary Lecture Series: Talk 3: Artists' Residencies

Saturday 23 January, 3.00 – 5.00pm
Kenneth Armitage Foundation, London W14 8RR

Dominic van den Boogerd, Director of De Ateliers, Amsterdam, Lotte Juul Petersen, Artists and Programmes Curator at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, and artist Francis Upritchard discuss the significance of residencies at public institutions. This talk will think about the role residencies now need to play, to support artists to develop new works and provide safe spaces to experiment, at a time when costs of living and education are becoming increasingly unaffordable.

Francis Upritchard was artist-in-residence at Camden Arts Centre in 2004.

Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, The London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts

50th Anniversary Lecture Series: Talk 4: Redefining Narratives of Contemporary Culture

Saturday 27 February, 2.00 – 4.00pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Alessio Antoniolli, Director of Gasworks and Triangle Network, David A. Bailey, curator, and Courtney J. Martin, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, discuss how public institutions represent a globalised art world as a way of provoking redefined narratives of contemporary culture. How has globalisation changed the art world, and do UK arts organisations present enough art from around the world?

This talk will look at how we can challenge the Western canon of contemporary art, ensuring that UK institutions have dialogues around diversity and the representation of artists from across the world alongside British minority artists, whilst also thinking about how we mediate these differences.

Venue partner Conway Hall. Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, The London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts

Alessio Antoniolli is the Director of Gasworks where he leads the artistic and strategic development of a  programme of residencies, exhibitions and participation projects focusing on emerging UK and international artists and practices. Alessio is also the Director of Triangle Network, a global network of grass-roots organisations. He is involved in running, fundraising and strategic planning for the Network, as well as working with new partners on developing mobility and exchange projects. In 2009 Alessio instigated the Knowledge and Skills Sharing Programme, an ongoing series of professional development and training opportunities for artists and arts coordinators within the Triangle Network.

David A. Bailey MBE is a curator, photographer, writer and cultural facilitator living and working in London. Bailey’s research centres around the notion of diaspora and black representation in art. He co-curated the ground-breaking exhibitions Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance with Richard J Powell at the Hayward Gallery, London in 1997, and Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary with Petrine Archer-Straw and Richard J Powell at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London in 2005. From 1996 to 2002, he was Co-Director of the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive (AAVAA) at the University of East London. From 2005 to 2009, he was Senior Curator of Autograph (ABP), and from 2005 to 2011 he was a Curator at Platform for the Remember Saro-Wiwa Living Memorial. Since 2006, he has been the founder and Director of the International Curators Forum, and between 2009 and 2010, he was the Acting Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in Nassau.  David A Bailey was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2007, for services to art.

Courtney J. Martin is an assistant professor in the History of Art and Architecture department at Brown University. As an art historian of the modern and contemporary fields, her scholarship is invested in the ways in which the post-1968 period altered art and artists internationally. Prior to Brown, she was an assistant professor in the History of Art department at Vanderbilt University (2010-2013); Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art at the University of California at Berkeley (2009-2010); a fellow at the Getty Research Institute (2008-2009); and a Henry Moore Institute Research Fellow (2007). In 2012, she curated a focus display at Tate Britain, Drop, Roll, Slide, Drip…Frank Bowling’s Poured Paintings 1973-1978.  In 2014, she co-curated the group show, Minimal Baroque: Post-Minimalism and Contemporary Art, at Rønnebæksholm in Denmark. Since 2008, she has co-led a research project on the Anglo-American art critic and curator Lawrence Alloway at the Getty Research Institute and is co-editor of Lawrence Alloway: Critic and Curator (Getty Publications, 2015). In 2015 she curated an exhibition of the American painter, Robert Ryman at the DIA Art Foundation, entitled Robert Ryman.

50th Anniversary Lecture Series: Talk 5: Philanthropy and the Arts

Tuesday 26 April, 7.00 – 8.30pm
Henry Wellcome Auditorium, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE

Ken Arnold, Creative Director of Medical Museion, Copenhagen and Wellcome Collection, London; Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of Paul Hamlyn Foundation; and artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), discuss the current challenges faced by public institutions in supporting artists’ production of new work and maintaining programmes that are independent and free.

Ken Arnold has worked in museums on both sides of the Atlantic. He arrived at Wellcome in 1992, where he spearheaded a number of multidisciplinary cultural initiatives in various London venues. In 2007 he set up and headed Wellcome Collection’s programming, initiating an innovative series of events and exhibitions in an adventurous venue dedicated to exploring the links between medicine, life and art. He now acts as Creative Director for Wellcome, and from June 2016 will split his time with a second role as Director at the Medical Museion – part of the University of Copenhagen, where he will also be a professor. He regularly writes and lectures on museums and on contemporary intersections between the arts and sciences. His book Cabinets for the Curious (Ashgate, 2006) explored what can be learned from looking back at England’s earliest museums. He is currently researching a book about the increasingly important cultural role for these enduring institutions.

Moira Sinclair is Chief Executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, an independent grant maker that aims to help people overcome disadvantage and lack of opportunity, so that they can realise their potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives. PHF has a particular interest in social justice and in supporting young people and a strong belief in the importance of the arts. Previously, as Executive Director London and South East for Arts Council England, she oversaw a portfolio of 322 funded cultural organisations and contributed to national policy development, with a particular focus on the resilience and sustainability of the cultural sector and workforce development. She played a key role supporting the cultural programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and continues to support its legacy at home and internationally. Before joining Arts Council in 2005, Moira was Director of Vital Arts, an arts and health charity. She has also worked in local government, and in theatre and production management. A graduate of Manchester University where she studied drama, Moira became a Clore Fellow in 2004/05. She is Chair of East London Dance, Vice Chair of Look Ahead Care and Support and a member of the British Library Advisory Council.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) was born in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at Byam Shaw College of Art (now Central Saint Martins) followed by Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA, graduating as part of the ‘Young British Artists’ generation. He currently lives and works in the East End of London. Shonibare is known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation, alongside those of race and class, through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and, more recently, film and performance. He was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004 and in 2013 was elected Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts. He was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor for Documenta 11 in 2002 to create his most recognised work Gallantry and Criminal Conversation that launched him on an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally at leading museums worldwide. In 2010, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle became his first public art commission on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

With special thanks to the Wellcome Collection for providing the venue

This event is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, The London Community Foundation and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts

Camden Cookout 2015

3 November 2015

Join us on Tuesday 3 November 2015 at a special 50th anniversary event to raise essential funds for Camden Arts Centre’s education and exhibition programmes. We want to ensure the next 50 years are as exciting, ground breaking and free as the last 50 have been.

Enjoy exclusive access to the Ben Rivers exhibition in the galleries, and dinner upstairs in the central space. An auction of artist-led experiences and unique works will be followed by coffee and desserts in our lovely café space.

In our 50th anniversary year we are thrilled to offer for auction artist-led experiences and unique works. Artist-led experiences include:

– Create ceramic works with Salvatore Arancio
– Make a sculptural wildlife habitat with Rachael Champion
– Join Hannah Collins for a one-on-one photography session
– Receive an original Moyra Davey artwork in the post
– Joachim Koester invites you to the set of his new film
– Visit The Wallace Collection with Jenni Lomax