Interview with Daniel Crow, Director of a space arts

Arts Ambassador Katherine Wells interviews Daniel Crow, Director of a space arts and Southampton Solent University alumni about his career journey.

Daniel Crow: My name is Daniel Crow, I’m the Director of a space arts, an organisation based in Southampton.

KW: How did you come to work within the arts initially?

DC: Initially would be many years ago: as a child I always loved painting, it was my go-to pastime, and throughout my education art and painting was what I focused on. That came all the way through to A-level, foundation, and then university, so I came to Southampton in 1995 to study Fine Art at Solent University.

KW: Can you talk about your role now at a space?

DC: Yes, so when I finished university in 1999, I wanted to carry on my practice as a painter and looked up in the Yellow Pages artist studio spaces and galleries in Southampton, and there was the Hansard (John Hansard Gallery) and City Art Gallery, that do fantastic things. But for me, as a new graduate artist, there wasn’t really opportunities there, so I began working at some independent studio spaces, old garages, and makeshift spaces. I rented the back half of an antique shop in Old Northam Road and got to know the landlord. He gave us the shop space for free for a year to turn into a gallery. We were there for four years in the end, and just put exhibitions on by our peers and others, people who were coming off of degrees and needed space to show work and to get their careers going. From that one gallery space, the organisation then grew.

KW: How has a space arts brought wider awareness and engagement of the arts to the public?

DC: In a number of ways, but from that first gallery space, we had too many proposals from artists to fit into one building, so we knew we needed more space. We decided to move our exhibitions out of Northam Road and into the city centre through using a series of medieval vaults in and around the old town. In 2004 we put on a project called Art Vaults, which opened up 12 of these spaces and turned them into exhibition/performance spaces. So that kind of brought us into the city, really raised awareness of the local artists we were working with and exhibiting, and that was a key moment for the organisation, so Art Vaults run for four summers and in the middle of that, in 2006, we moved into the Margate Monument. So we had city centre gallery space and that did an awful lot to raise awareness of the arts and local artists working in Southampton.

KW: What are your plans for 2019?

DC: Growing out of Art Vaults and Margate, we will open God’s House Tower. It’s the former Museum of Archaeology, South East Corner of the old walls, and for us it’s the biggest budget and the biggest building we’ve ever taken on. All being well, it will open in summer 2019 – alongside a café, bar, shop, and events space, there will be two floors of galleries; a collections gallery and a contemporary gallery. So that hopefully brings further opportunities to local artists to have more room to exhibit and put on activities, but also for the public, with more for them to see and learn about the local arts, alongside the building’s history.

KW: What advice would you give people trying to establish themselves within the arts?

DC: Just go for it. Just do it. Work hard. Don’t stop making work, especially if you’re a new artist out of university. I think it’s absolutely crucial you just carry on making. If that’s in a studio space that somewhere like a space can supply, or if it’s in a bedroom, a garage, or an antique shop, just carry on making and believing. It’s a really difficult industry. It’s not a defined career path and often it’s about the artists that have the enthusiasm and the ambition to carry on making in the face of difficulties. They’re the ones that really come through. Coupled with that, there’s more happening in Southampton now to support artists. We’re just about to go back to Northam Road as an organisation and open up three new gallery spaces down there, and hopefully that’s just the start of Northam Road becoming an independent artists’ quarter. So there’s opportunities we can offer through God’s House Tower and the Arches, our existing studio space, but there’s a lot more to come in 2019 from a space.

Arts Ambassadors is a paid opportunity, supported by the Careers and Employability Service’s Excel Southampton Internship programme, University of Southampton

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