Well it was a long process to say the least but we got there and the ONE CHAIR PROJECT finally saw the light of day on our press and preview night on 11th Feb 2016, over a year after the project began. Safe to say we rode that buzz!
When I started the project in 2014 the aim was always to have an exhibition in a space that the public could drop into or see from the street, not a traditional art gallery setting that can be off-putting. To put the faces of the people pushing the city forward culturally directly in front of the residents as if to say OI LOOK!! check out what’s going on, and who’s doing it!
I was doing it for free and asking for no payment except the project to be given a space.
I told my friend Tobi Kaerst about it and he immediately introduced me to Tom Whitley of the Natural Vegmen – a guy who believes that we have a duty to affect our city and had been making connections all over the shop. After our initial meeting he jumped on board as Co-pilot and immediately began to open doors to start the process of getting the exhibition out!
Tom is now a great friend and fellow Scotch Whisky appreciator and I could not have done this without him. There’ll be a bottle at the end buddy!
Skip a YEAR of banging our heads agains the walls and we’d FINALLY got past the non-decision makers and people that were offering ridiculous things that could never work – that seemed to be rife here. We’d been offered not only funding through CWaC (Alice sorted this! thank you!!) but a shop unit as well.
The aim of the project was always to highlight talent, create a network amongst the one chair people and put them forward as points of contact and reference to connect people.
We really wanted to use the project as a vehicle to:
Strengthen and highlight our creative industry by pulling our creatives into a supportive network
Put said industry in front of our business community to encourage them to start looking to Chester and use creatives in the city therefore improving our creative economy.
Educate people that by saying YES to projects like this – your city gets BETTER
Through an event that was set up by Andy Foster about improving the future of Chester I met Andrew Davey and Rhys Harry from design firm Reasonably Good who’d been looking into co-working spaces and how they can help freelancers.
So after we were offered the shop unit, it seemed obvious to ask them if they would like to run a co-working space alongside the exhibition. It would increase traffic and also be really healthy for our creative industry. We’d do an opening night and then convert the space to accommodate both projects.
This project is now alive and kicking and called INDUSTRY
The Chester Chronicle ran an article pre launch which was amazing. Read it here and I was lucky to have Andy Tabberer come on board with social media expertise also.
I was overwhelmed with the turnout (over 150 people) and diversity of the guests on the opening night but was also very nervous as I knew I had to speak to everyone at some point. To relieve this I got my film camera out (an old pentax honeywell 1964 that my mate Gus had given me) and hid behind it. It was just like working an event after that and I re-entered my comfort zone.
The night went off really well and I was really pleased to see not only members of our creative community but members of Chester Business Club, the council and also Chester Growth Partnership there as well as friends and of course all of the ONE CHAIR people. We were ticking the right boxes in my head. Mixing people up together!
I was so excited to see everyone who I’d photographed be there at the unveiling and see their own portrait and reading their bios written by Adam Kirkup. for the first time. Reactions from Alice Elliott, Matt Baker and Nez Kendall in particular were absolutely priceless – lots of selfies!!! Also extremely relieved that Nez liked his pic as he’s national vintage photographer of the year 2015! See his work here
Music was provided by ME&Deboe and Mark Henderson and Thor Brown (who was originally supposed to be in the CHAIR but was a bit too nervous).
We also had lovely wine which we bought from Chester Beer and Wine on the recommendation of Sam the owner. Our team to look after everyone were on it! Kirsten, Shanie (who never stops grinning) and Rachael, thanks youse!
We also had John Holt magician come and support us for FREE on the night. I must have heard the phrase ‘That guy blew my mind!” around 10 times!
SO WE DID IT finally! Watch a little vid of the event below.
I had a great night and lots of support since! The exhibition and INDUSTRY co-working is now OPEN for 2 months and going strong and we’re also putting on workshops and talks in the space. feel free to drop in at:
61 Watergate Row South
CHAIR IS HAPPY
Mum are you proud of me yet?