Tuesday, 24 August 2010

SLICE is on holiday...

Friday, 16 July 2010

Next meeting/what next?

So what is happening with the Lab with no Name?

Do we have a meeting fixed up or did one happen earlier in July?

Or should we say we're having a break for the summer and re-convene in September?

Please respond and lets not let this slip away - it's too good for that.

Lucy x

Monday, 5 July 2010

Artist Parents

As quite a few members of The Lab are parents, or soon to be (congrats) I thought it might be interesting to share this blog, being written by an artist I know from Norwich. He and his wife have a collaborative practice (known as Townley & Bradley) and they are currently doing a residency in Denmark with their children (5 and 22 months).  See the Golden Threads Blog

Monday, 14 June 2010

text by 16 Beaver Group

Below is the full extract we read at the last Lab. It is 16 Beaver Group’s contribution to Curating and the Educational Turn. Paul O’Neill & Mick Wilson (Eds.) De Appel/Open Editions, Amsterdam/London, 2010, pp240-241. The full text is a series of letters between 16 Beaver Group and someone called Nina who sees them at a symposium and is then unsatisfied by the amount of background material she can find about them… so she writes and they write back and she writes again, and the bit below is from 16 Beaver group’s 5th letter to her:

I put the ‘group could be this and that’ bit Lucy mentioned in bold, and i'll see if there's someone we can invite

“When several of us first started reading texts together and inviting people to share their research and questions, there was no need to call it a school, an artwork, an artists collective or anything in particular. It seemed that this act of naming would only throw people into a situation of identifying themselves as students/teachers, administrators/directors, artists/non-artists, spectators/lecturers, participant/audience, insider/outsider, invited/uninvited, etc. A name might have given it a certain legibility and sensibility, for people to more quickly identify it or categorise it within a series of gestures, problematisations, discourses, institutions, etc., possibly giving it a certain degree of immediate efficacy. But, for our purposes, it seemed that such an act would also risk delimiting what it could be or become for each participant. Schools and educational programmes are terminal. And the date of termination is often not of our choosing. One is a student then one becomes a “professional” or maybe a “teacher” or maybe unemployable. We wanted none of those titles. We cared for none of those ascriptions, descriptions or conscriptions.

[We skipped this next paragraph but here it is]
We knew that there were things that we could learn from each other across generations, across “disciplines”. In fact, I personally felt a need to collectively discover ways of breaking both disciplinary constraints – constraints that were keeping experiences and research, which could have practical or useful implications, too easily confined in a rarefied, untouchable or unreachable place. These are the same constraints which effectively deny individuals the opportunity to see connections between struggles, between different practices, contexts and experiences. There was a sincere interest to embody our politics; to connect what we read to our lived reality; to compare what we thought against the reality we were being asked to live. How, for instance, could we continue to talk abstractly about political issues without also seeking to connect with individuals who could meet us, confront us with a lived experience and help us critique existing terminologies and constructions?
So, we shared books, shared out interest in them and years later evolved into sharing our work our questions and our friends.

It felt necessary to make our space as open as we could because everything around it was exclusive. We wanted an open place of learning, of sharing, but also a space that could also potentially become something more. There would be no professors and no students. A study or residency programme continuous with life, which could become a theatre group, a filmmaking co-op, an autonomous place of learning, a commune, an infrastructure for developing dissident thought and inspiring new forms of processes. It would become a horizontal space to give one another time, allowing different levels of engagement and involvement, a challenge to capitalist ideology, a revaluation of artistic practice toward an immeasurable horizon of a contestable present.
Even as I write this, I ask myself how to even assert that what we have done was not exceptional; this was a simple modest everyday practice, which took very little resources other than our time, labour and thought. It may appear exceptional to some, simply because to be social today, to share time with strangers, to cultivate a collective, public intellectuality resists the dominant ideology, which asserts that each person is self-interested and that human relations are either of the order of exploitation or without value.
I have a friend visiting so will have to resume later.


Minutes of meeting 8/6/10

Present: Lucy Bannister (chair and minutes), Stuart Bannister, Martha Jurksaitis, Dan Robinson, Rob and Terry, James Hill, Dave Ronalds

Sorry these have taken so long to do – a hazard of both organising and minuting a meeting!

So… the intention that I set out for the meeting was to discuss what Black Lab could become, talk about names and intentions and how it could be described both internally and externally.

The group that were present were all very clear that a name was not important – we all felt happy with simply ‘Lab’ or ‘No Name lab’ or ‘Lab with No Name’. We didn’t feel we needed to change from the new blog Andy has set up (this one!). This was discussed at the end of the meeting put it feels most appropriate to say it now, in these minutes.

We started by Dan reading a text he found in a book. It was a letter written by 16 Beaver http://www.16beavergroup.org/ which outlined some of what they had done and might do. What really stood out was the idea of ‘could be’ – that there was no manifesto or list of rules or goals but rather a sense of what could be – an ongoing list that can be added to as things develop with the Lab. Dan will hopefully add this to the blog as it was really inspirational for us.

It was from this idea of ‘could be’ that the rest of the meeting took a hold.

We discussed many things that it is hard to relay in detail here so I will simply try to sum up! I wrote a series of post-it notes on the night relating to words I thought were important in the conversation. Below are those words with some explanation.

In no particular order.

Not Formalised

The group should remain loose structured and organised to allow for organic development and what ‘could be’


The momentum that was achieved at Green Sands was essential and kept things moving forward and lively. It perhaps caused added stress, however, as it put tension on the group to do things in a set time period. Somehow we need to retain a sense of momentum without too much pressure!


Meeting on regular dates helps people to come in and out and get on with their lives. It also helps to open the Lab to other people.

Structure to allow business to be done

No matter how much ‘could be’ there is, there will always be business to be done – such as arranging meetings, events, trips, equipment and the more esoteric stuff like feedback and sharing ideas. We all felt that it was an essential part of the progress of the Lab to have business type meetings. See below for how we worked on this.


Relating to the above – the activity of Black Lab emerged from a process of events, meetings, talking. We need to retain a structure to allow this process to happen.


Everyone agreed that a really important part of Black Lab was that it was a chance to see friends, chat, drink, eat and that the social part should not be neglected or sidelined in the Lab!

Deeper Focus

Ability to take ideas into a deeper focus – this is where spin off events, meetings, listening sessions etc. can be really useful – for those that want to go deeper into topics that have arisen in the regular meetings.

Tensions and emotions

It was commented that a number of people had actually been upset by Black Lab meetings (not a particular one, or because of individuals). It was acknowledged that the Lab could stir emotions and it can be a challenge to keep coming. This shouldn’t be swept aside or dismissed, nor should it stop passion and debate!

Talking Points

Where issues are particularly of interest, activities could be established (such as a reading or discussion group) to explore these further.

Working with people

The process of putting on events, running workshops etc. allowed people to work together who wouldn’t have done so otherwise


Trust our instincts

Moving on to things of a more practical nature…..How the Lab operates from here…..

Starts from the meeting

The basis of the Lab is a bi-weekly meeting, 2 per month, on Tuesday nights.

The first part of the meeting is relating to the business of the Lab and would include critical feedback on other meetings/events/sessions that have taken place since the last meeting.

The second part of the meeting could be a film screening, a poetry recital, a reading, a music workshop, a walk, a visit to the pub, it could be anything! But they would be activities that could take place on a Tuesday night. Activities that need a more prolonged time or just a different day (like the 24hr music jam) would be organised separately.


The Lab does not have to stay in one place. Whilst the Black Dogs have Saw Mill Yard it makes sense to use this when it is appropriate and it gives a good solid base to get things going from. But the Lab is not defined by venue. If an activity needs to be somewhere else, or is better suited to being elsewhere, then it should be. This includes the bi-weekly meetings. See the image for ideas of where we could go e.g urban or rural hiking, graveyards, Sheffield, Pubs, Lumen, people’s houses…..

The structure does not define the Lab – it simply gives it a logistical framework

Plan ahead
In order to maintain momentum, forward planning would be a damn good idea. Keeping a calendar that is used to plan 8 weeks ahead could encourage activities outside of the bi-weekly meetings to actually happen.

Invite list

For events the person organising it should set the invite list according to what they feel is appropriate or manageable.

We also discussed making the bi-weekly meetings more approachable and open. It was discussed that specifically inviting people you know, and repeating that invitation a few times would be a good way to entice new folk along.

Key Holders

In relation to the Saw Mill Yard space we discussed there being 8 key holders that wouldn’t just be members of Black Dogs. This means that a member of Black Dogs isn’t obliged to be at meetings unless one they are convening it; although they probably will want to be there most of the time anyway!

Key holders would need to take turns to open up for meetings and events. With their being 8 this shouldn’t need to be very often.

Volunteers at the meeting/current holders:

James Hill

Dave Ronalds

Lucy and Stu Bannister

Michael Burkitt

Andy Abbott

Yvonne Carmichael

Dan Robinson

I am going to try summing up:

No Name Lab (Lab, The Lab with No Name) is a peripatetic group of individuals that meet twice a month to share conversations about and through creative outputs that are their own and other people’s.

It could be many things; the list of what it could be will continue to grow as the Lab evolves.

The Lab meet regularly on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month.

Activities are not restricted to the regular meetings; these simply offer a structure to the Lab in order to generate momentum and a process of investigation. They allow an entry point for people to join in and for activities to be discussed, organised and staged.

All Lab attendees are invited to convene the regular meetings, to organise activities, arrange appropriate venues, generate specific conversations for deeper exploration, or any of the other possibilities that can be seen to be feasible within the Lab.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Next Lab Meeting

Just a thought, but I'd be interested in watching an artist documentary that's just under an hour long with anyone who might be interested. We could do it down at the space. It's called "Last Supper" (kind of nice connection to the Last Supper thing at Black Lab), and I haven't watched it yet, though from reviews etc. sounds very interesting (always need to see for yourself though right! nullius in verba etc). It's about the practise of serving prisoners a last meal before they are executed (another word for murdered). I can bring it along as an option to the next meeting if anyone's interested (we can always watch it another day).