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Artist Commission Opportunity: Open Call

Open Call call for artists: Co-commission of a new artwork
Estuary 2021 Open Call call for artists
Co-commission of a new artwork for Lesnes Abbey Woods

Total fee: £12,000
Deadline: Friday 11 September 2020

Metal and London Borough of Bexley are delighted to announce an open call opportunity to co-commission a new public realm artwork to be sited at Lesnes Abbey Woods. The selected artwork will be launched at Estuary 2021, the ambitious, highly visible and transformational festival celebrating the Thames Estuary, and be retained as a permanent artwork at Lesnes Abbey Woods, a site of natural, social, and historical importance.

We are inviting artists to propose initial ideas in response to the Artist Brief via the online application form. Shortlisted artists will be invited to a brief online interview, with one proposal selected for the co-commission.

The appointed artist (or artist group) will join a cohort of artists who are creating new artworks for Wat Tyler Country Park which will provide additional opportunities for artistic peer exchange around the key Estuary 2021 themes, and will include:
- Input from invited international speakers, historians and estuary experts
- One-to-one advice and support from the Metal creative team
- Collaboration with peers for discussion and exchange of ideas and practice.
- Opportunity to exchange ideas, share work and feed your practice with peers and practitioners.
- Proposals are invited in response to the Artist Brief which sets out the themes and context for the work.

Co-commissioning criteria
We are seeking to appoint an artist or artists collective with:
- an established track record of works sited in the public realm
- a practice that is strongly participatory and socially engaged
- a track record of producing work that engages and involves local communities, removing barriers to participation in the arts
We actively support applications from artists/collectives from diverse backgrounds and protected groups.

Aims of the Co-commission
Metal and London Borough of Bexley are seeking an artist or artist collective to create an imaginative response to the brief, in particular we are looking for a response that:
- Can be installed within the grounds of Lesnes Abbey Woods and Park.
- Adds the visitor offer at Lesnes Abbey.
- Appeals to a diverse local audience - both people that already visit the site and also attracting new visitors, and higher frequency of visits at all times of the year.
- We are open to ideas from artists, in response to the brief, ideas could include:
- A physical sculpture.
- Taking the form of a trail or new way of navigating the 88-hectare site.
- A digital work that is GPS located and connected to the site
- Other?

We would welcome ideas for local community engagement both in the development of the work and/or the realisation and launch. For more information see Artist brief.
Is attuned to any ongoing requirements for social distancing in public space.

Co-commission themes
The history and context of both sites are set out in the artist brief, with themes including:
- Rebellion and revolt: formats for protest
- Gathering places (taverns & their contemporary equivalents)
- The time of rumour: cultural changes related to communication and language shifts (rapid adoption of English language/digital & social platforms/alternative systems for understanding)
- Estuary ‘territories’, land ownership and alternative ways of living
- The feudal system and its contemporary manifestations
- Pilgrimage & transit: mobile populations (e.g. ‘bread and cheese’ test for foreigners)
- Defensive Estuary structures, both futile and beneficial
Due to the sensitive nature of the site in relation to its archaeology and ecology, the final siting of any works will need to be agreed with the Estate Manager.

Informal site visits
Artists are invited to join one of 3 socially distanced site visits to see the Park and have an opportunity to ask questions to Estuary and Lesnes staff (see artist brief for full details)

In addition to providing a compelling response to the brief, the artist/s are also required to participate in remote lab sessions taking place over five weeks (Thursdays 2-4pm, 1-29 October) 

Application deadline: 23:59 on Friday 11 September
Notification: Applicants will hear if they have been successful by Friday 25 September

Application form & Artist Brief
Please refer to the Artist Brief when preparing your application
Applications submitted via the online form here

Criteria for Selection
Representatives from Metal and Lesnes Abbey Woods will select successful applicants based on how applicants meet the Commissioning criteria outlined in the Artist Brief.

Co-commission partners | Thank you to our funders
Co-commissioned by London Borough of Bexley and Metal Southend for Estuary 2021 with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund for Parks for People projects in England.

Estuary 2021 is possible through Creative Estuary, the DCMS-funded Cultural Development Fund, an ambitious long-term project to make the Thames Estuary the world's largest creative corridor; a world leader for the creative and cultural industries.

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