"I applied to be part of 'socially awkward' as I wanted to learn more about socially engaged art from a range of perspectives and disciplines. The conversations we've been having and support I've received has helped me to clarify what I want to achieve in my art festival 'Conny'. I've really enjoyed developing playful and inquisitive work from our discussions around social art. I look forward to seeing how we can continue to collaborate and learn more from each other in the future."
Elaine Robertson, Socially Awkward supporting artist and Co-Director of "Conny Arts Festival"
Socially Awkward is a collaborative project comissioned by The New Bridge Project, UK, being led by artist Lady Kitt and NewBridge Committee member Sarah Stamp. It aims to gently interrogate, illuminate and insight social functions of making, breaking down socially awkward barriers through developing and testing out alternative ways to engage with the public.
Lady Kitt and Sarah are working with artists Bethany Stead, Elaine Robertson, Kat Bevan, Rosa Postlethwaite and Sara Qaed to explore creative approaches to everyday life and thinking.
Socially Awkward focuses on ways of communicating and collaborating in non-hierarchical ways. Gathering on public transport or in everyday public spaces across Newcastle upon Tyne, the city forms the backdrop to their work, creating an uncontrived space for the artists to connect with people outside of traditional cultural spaces.
The project is process-led and fully steered by the group of artists. Lady Kitt is working alongside the 5 supporting artists, who were selected through an open-call process, to explore their interests and to facilitate and strengthen their practices through collaborative learning, social engagement and hands-on professional development in the public realm.
Together they are exploring what art can do, and what it can’t or shouldn’t be expected to do, and their approach does not subscribe to the assertion that social practice can be used to solve all our problems or that it can plug the gaps left by austerity politics.
"When we were developing an open, process-led social practice project with the NewBridge Project's Programme Committee member Sarah Stamp we didn’t want to pre-determine who we'd be targeting with our project, and wanted to start from the very simple question: why engage?
We wanted someone with experience of socially-engaged art to lead a group of supporting artists to develop new techniques of engagement along more natural, mutual lines. Lady Kitt was commissioned as lead artist, and along with five artists selected from an open call they have together been developing what has become the Socially Awkward project.
We were inundated with applications for people keen to be supporting artists on the Socially Awkward project and as a result are looking into other ways to support the discipline."
Dan Russell, Artist Development
Co-ordinator, The New Bridge Project
Logo by Sara Qaed