We came to organise Vespertine through our shared interests and background in collaboration, event planning, curating and producing work across a broad spectrum of art forms (including visual art, performance, music, film and digital projection) and in a huge variety of contexts: from large-scale events and internationally recognised festivals to public interventions and events. The connective thread between these projects and Vespertine is a heartfelt desire to engage a wide range of audiences in creative processes - as spectators, participants, and co-producers - as well as supporting and promoting best practice at all levels. We believe that art can, and should, communicate in new and interesting ways to people from all backgrounds, offering fresh perspectives that inspire audiences to make positive personal and social change.
With such a diverse set of partners as well as astonishing locations around the city, Vespertine has been an exciting voyage of discovery for us. Our highlights have included unearthing York's fascinating history of print and coffee culture, programming an audio-visual gig in a Cold War bunker, a VR fly through of the stunning St Mary's Church on Walmgate and simply working with contemporary art within heritage contexts. The programme has thrown up some unusual challenges - such as how do you run an event in a 25-person capacity, underground venue?
(Answer: cycle the performance eleven times with no break - big thanks to Game_Program and York Cold War Bunker for their willingness to do this!)
One of our first tasks was to come up with a theme that would link the events. We chose Vespertine - the name for an animal, plant or star which emerges in the early evening, as all the events were at this time; the idea being that residents and visitors to York would be invited to become Vespertine creatures.
This theme was given as a brief to artist and illustrator Luke Drozd who designed five Vespertine symbols: bat, fox, moth, owl and flower - that have featured at all of the events in some form or other, including print, laser etched perspex, banners, flags, chocolates, badges and masks.
The content and specific theme for each event was developed with the partners and venues. We focused on collaborations between artists and creatives from different disciplines, as well as with technologists and researchers drawing on local expertise, talent and skills as well as our wider networks and also broadening this out through Open Calls.
Each event had a bespoke designed programme or set of posters by illustrator and designer Ben Holden who brought an individual style to each event, from the Mansion House Masquerade hosting inspired menu programme to the folded map inviting you to journey through the diverse Fossgate area, these pieces become artworks in themselves. You can see each of them in full here.
We also enjoyed the support of emerging producer and artist Alice Withers, who has worked on our social media and events throughout the programme. The events were delivered by a combination of venue/partner/freelance producer and documented by a variety of talented photographers and videographers from the local and wider area including: Mark Woodward, Jonathan Turner, James Barlow, John Oxley, Pat Bannon and ourselves.
Over the sixteen events, we welcomed upwards of 8000 audience members and participants, commissioned over 50 artworks, held workshops including a Dadaist anti-choir and a guitar strung breadboard orchestra. This website has been developed by University of York students Noor Mansur and Mark Woodward through an internship programme in partnership with DC Labs and University of York. Drawing together all of the events in one place, we hope it offers a flavour of the overall programme and allows us to re-present some of the artworks in a new way.
The series was funded by Make it York, Arts Council England and each of the partners and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them and all the artists, makers, technologists, participants and volunteers.
AOC Archaeology | CityScreen | DC Labs | English Heritage | Fairfax House | Mansion House | MyFutureYork | National Centre for Early Music | Make it York | National Railway Museum | Pilot Theatre | University of York | York Archaeological Trust | York@Large | York Churches Partnership | York Cocoa House | York Food & Drink Festival | York Museums Trust | York St John University | York Theatre Royal | Yorkshire Film Archive