To celebrate the completion of the 2022 art internship, the NCKU student interns curated an exhibition, "Fly to Fearon Hall", to conclude their creative journey in Loughborough. The exhibition, which was a co-creation by the interns and local artists who had led them in the previous five weeks, featured 15 pieces of mixed media artwork and 4 video works. Inspired by their time in the UK, the interns completed additional projects for the exhibition – the design of a new collective typeface, "Loughborough", and the release of a newsletter, "NEXUST", which combined the exhibition introduction and a record of things they had seen and heard in the town.
The exhibition was widely acclaimed, and is reported to have energised the local community. After their 35-day internship, all five interns said they had benefited greatly from this experience of cross-border and cross-boundary learning.
This summer, between the 18th of July and the 21st of August, the five NCKU graduate students, led by Ming Turner, the Associate Professor at the Institute of Creative Industries Design (ICID), undertook an overseas internship programme in the UK, kindly supported by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan. Based at Fearon Community Association (FCA), a local community association in Loughborough, the interns experienced a period of highly-engaging art exchange and co-curation with a number of local artists. At the same time, they observed a different way of education and the influence of art and culture on the local community. Through this experience, the students sampled life in a foreign land, worked on the curatorial practice of art, and cultivated their ability to participate in cross-border collaboration.
According to Ming Turner, here the term “Flying” indicates freedom and influential dynamics. Indeed, the students spent several hours simply flying to the UK to meet the local artists. Both the interns and the artists experienced the beauty of cross-border exchanges. We are now looking forward to an ongoing international art exchange and co-creation project in the future, and to the strengthening of the interactions and connections between the artist networks in the UK and Taiwan.
According to Jacqui Gallon, the artist and coordinator of FCA who invited the local artists and creative practitioners, for many years, Ming Turner has invested a considerable amount of time and effort to both establish and develop this annual international art internship programme, linking NCKU and the Leicestershire town of Loughborough. This internship programme was initiated by Professor Turner and Kevin Ryan, former CEO of Charnwood Arts in 2014, and owing to the restriction of COVID-19, it was suspended for a couple of years in 2020 and 2021. It has been a great success and achievement that the internship programme was launched again in 2022, organised by Jacqui and hosted by FCA.
Jacqui also acknowledged that Professor Turner had also extended exceptional hospitality to her during her own stay at Siao-long Cultural Park during the artist-in-residence programme in Taiwan in 2020. At this time, having the opportunity to relaunch the exchange programme following the hiatus caused by the pandemic, she hoped to give her all to help the students get the most out of this opportunity to learn. Jacqui encouraged the interns to embrace the cultural differences, to take advantage of the creative thinking of the younger generation, and she proposed the idea of co-creation and co-curation with the hope of realizing the aim of learning-by-doing. Her hard-working and practical personality, brilliant lateral thinking, along with her whole-hearted care for the interns, made each of them shed a tear and express thankfulness from the bottom of their hearts when waving goodbye at the end of their stay.
Practice in Local Art Workshops – In-depth Experience of the Various Creative Styles of Artists
Every artist specialises in different media and materials. During their stay, the interns learned the creative concepts of art and life from twelve local artists. They participated in multiple artist-led workshops, including those which featured puppet animation, eco-dyeing, natural dyeing, cyanotypes, plastics, abstracts, and new media. They visited the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Home Farm and the surrounding woodlands in Nanpantan, which is a rural outpost of Loughborough. These places left them with a huge number of memories and inspiration for their creations.
The natural dyeing workshop at Nanpantan was one of the most impressive workshops. At Home Farm in Nanpantan, they met the incredible Vanessa Parkinson, a Tudor plant specialist. She talked about plants and the lifestyle of the Tudor period. One of the interns recalled how “Vanessa dressed in an elaborate costume, with the accessories and utensils of a Tudor gardener. All her effort had this workshop filled with a nostalgic British vibe.”
In addition to the workshops, the students participated in a collective work, led by artist Miffy Ryan. On the broad grassland of the farm, Ryan prepared white coveralls and a parachute for the creative activity to take place, while Ming Turner, unplanned, led the students to finish a participatory performance, filmed as the video work, “White Feathers/The Dragon”. The video was later selected for a screening event at Two Queens, a professional art space in Leicester.
Fly to Fearon Hall: Cross-border Communication Making Hearts Soar Again
Alongside the art practice with different media and materials in the workshops, the interns and artists took a further step to develop mixed-media works based on their output from the workshops, employing ideas drawn from their observations of Fearon Hall. The exhibition took place on the 19th of August at Fearon Hall, featuring 15 pieces of artwork and 4 video works. Residents and artists gathered at Fearon Hall to join the event marking the closure of the internship programme. The interns interacted with the visitors, hoping to make their hearts soar through their artistic creations.
The interns explained that, “‘Fly to Fearon Hall’ was the main concept for the exhibition. Besides the literal meaning of coming to the UK from away, we attempted to interpret sociality in the post-pandemic period in terms of the approach to the arts. Quarantine policies have confined people to their homes; they have been forced to step away from their social lives owing to the fear of the unknown, resulting in an extended period of anxiety and stagnancy. People cherish the warmth of personal contact and are now eager for comfort, more than ever before. Things we used to take for granted are now being noticed, experienced, and treasured. Now, art plays a vital role in this topic. Art can make people’s hearts fly again.”
On the day of the exhibition, before the opening ceremony, the interns invited visitors to write down their ideas on a white sheet. These ideas were concerned with the three sub-topics of the exhibition: Nest, Nexus and Next. By carrying the white sheet into the hall, the action symbolised the new energy of flying to Fearon Hall, and the community. Jacqui Gallon guided the interns to utilise every room on the ground floor of the hall. Even the staircase was employed as a place for the projection of videos they had created in the preceding five weeks. The display integrated the images with the building, which was erected in 1889, and composed a cross-generational dialogue between the architecture and videos.
Delving Deeper into the Community for Stories – “NEXUST”, a Newsletter to Rapturous Acclaim
During the 35 days of their stay, the interns dedicated themselves to art and learning with great gusto. They created and distributed the newsletter, “NEXUST”, in which they shared their experiences and observations at Fearon Hall. Using a new co-created typeface, “Loughborough,” and revealing their rich stories of the place, the newsletter was well-received by visitors.
While drawing together material for the newsletter, the interns learned from the manager, Megan Bezzano-Griffiths, about how she has led her team to revitalise the historical building, and how they have offered services to care for vulnerable residents living in Loughborough. They interviewed both staff and volunteers at Fearon Hall, as well as the young generation in the community, seeking their perspectives and expectations for this community centre.
On intern explained how, “In the interviews, we came to realize the challenges they have faced. Despite the difficulties, the staff always show strength, perseverance, and warmth. One of the staff said that her job at Fearon Hall “is the perfect job. It’s the job you would love coming to work to do.” Both the assertiveness and positivity towards their jobs were rather touching for me.”
Ming Turner pointed out that through their in-depth interviews, the interns could observe and comprehend the operation of a charity in the UK. They provided a variety of services, such as selling second-hand clothing, offering a food bank, presenting exotic theme nights with cuisine and culture, and art classes for residents. The newsletter, NEXUST, included interviews, internship records, and articles for the exhibition. In addition, the newly-created typeface was applied to the topic lettering of the articles, and to a word search puzzle. The rich and wonderous content revealed to visitors the interns’ hard work and intentions during their co-creative activities with the artists. You can read the newsletter, NEXUST, here.
Jacqui Gallon is a British artist working across a range of media – painting, printmaking, textiles, assemblage and writing. Her work explores relationships between human loss, grief and remembering through notions of material culture and/or the landscape. She often narrates these ideas using worn clothing and other personal objects.
Fearon Community Association (FCA) was formed in December 1979. Its underlying core principles are to maintain and improve the quality of life for the local community through community cohesion, social integration and recreational wellbeing, and providing facilities to local groups for recreation, education, and training.
The first day at Fearon Hall – A group photo at the entrance to Fearon Hall.
In front of Chinese hieroglyphs for “Flying”, the British artist, Jacqui Gallon, delivered her introductory talk.
Vanessa Parkinson (in the middle), a Tudor plant specialist, dressed as a Tudor gardener, leading a natural dyeing workshop.
With artists Miffy Ryan & The Lone Ones Collective - using a large parachute and white clothes to guide the students to interact with the environment.
The NCKU interns were involved with members of the local community.
People carried this white sheet into the hall during the opening ceremony.
The newsletter, NEXUST, produced by the NCKU interns
Participants of the 2022 NCKU International Art Internship Programme