Five leading artists to be put to public vote as venues compete for Museums at Night's Connect! initiative

| 12 April 2016

Which artist goes where? You decide in this year's Museums at Night vote, with big names and all sorts of venues involved

A photo of a woman and a young girl enjoying themselves at the Museums at Night festival
Voting will open at the end of April to decide where six artists will go for the October edition of Museums at Night 2016© Matt Thomas
Museums at Night is all about doing something different. This year, a public vote will decide where five of the country’s most inventive and unusual artists turn up on an October evening: they include Marcus Coates, the shaman known for suspending himself from a tree as if he was a bird of prey, and Aowen Jin, the Chinese-born British artist and social commentator who often spends years living within communities or subcultures.

The venues hoping for your vote have spent three months planning their bids, ranging from Rhondda Heritage Park, which sits on a former colliery in Glamorgan and harks back to when coal mining was in full swing, to the Grade I-listed Castle Drogo on Dartmoor and contemporary galleries like Bristol’s Arnolfini and Nottingham Contemporary.

They’ll have just over a fortnight to canvas enough votes for victory, with each artist challenged to create a unique event: Susan Hiller, who was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain in 2011, could be visiting Bristol, Nottingham or London, and Peter Liversidge – once the creator of a freestanding gin stall – could be called to Drogo, the Royal College of Nursing, Derby’s Radio Communication Museum or the Clifton Suspension Bridge on the B3129.

The initiative, called Connect!, is backed by Arts Council England, and received more than 34,000 public votes last year. 20-21 Visual Arts, the Scunthorpe gallery which won a sci-fi themed evening with Jessica Voorsanger in the 2014 edition, will compete against Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and Somerset House for the attentions of multidisciplinary Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams this time.

Previous events have included a teddy bear hunt led by Grayson Perry at the Yorkshire Museum and a community photoshoot with artist-to-the-stars Rankin at an allotment.

Rosie Clarke, the Campaigns Officer for the biannual festival, feels the new mentoring scheme between six new artists and the Connect! practitioners is an important aspect this year. “We are delighted to be able to involve emerging artists who are keen to expand their practice by learning from a mentor, shadowing them through the creative journey and discovering how their initial idea becomes a successful event for all to enjoy,” she says.

“The Connect! programme is a fantastic and challenging aspect of the Museums at Night festival: everyone taking part learns a lot about how to foster positive working relationships, realise an artistic vision and inspire new audiences through the power of participatory art.”

The artists have been chosen in partnership with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network.

  • Voting opens at 11am on April 29 2016 at museumsatnight.org.uk. The winning partnerships will be announced on Monday 16 May. Museums at Night 2016 runs May 11-14 and October 27-29.

Connect! The artists and venues

Marcus Coates
Best known for his performances and installations that employ shamanistic rituals to engage with the natural world, including Goshawk (1999) where Coates was suspended in a pine tree in order to view the world as a bird of prey.

Shortlisted Venues:
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland; Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol

Where will you send Marcus Coates? Cast your vote here.

Susan Hiller
With a practice extending over 40 years, Susan Hiller is considered one of the most influential artists of her generation. Her groundbreaking installations, multi-screen videos and audio works have achieved international recognition and are widely acknowledged to be a major influence on younger British artists.

Shortlisted Venues:
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham; Arnolfini, Bristol; Nunnery Gallery, London

Where will you send Susan Hiller? Cast your vote here.

Aowen Jin
Named by The Times as “one of tomorrow’s great artists”, Chinese-born British artist and social commentator Aowen Jin has a unique position as both an outsider and an insider in Chinese society. Much of her work questions why people live the way they do, and she spends years living within a community or embracing a sub-culture to create new insights into contemporary society.

Shortlisted Venues:
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Warwickshire; Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Telford; Rhondda Heritage Park, Wales; Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens, Torquay; Fulham Palace, London

Where will you send Aowen Jin? Cast your vote here.

Peter Liversidge
Peter Liversidge is a British contemporary artist notable for his diverse artistic practice and use of proposals, written on a manual typewriter. He has exhibited and worked with Tate Liverpool and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art amongst many other galleries across the world.

Shortlisted Venues:
Radio Communication Museum, Derby; Royal College of Nursing, London; Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol; Castle Drogo, Dartmoor

Where will you send Peter Liversidge? Cast your vote here.

Bedwyr Williams
Working across a variety of media including performance, video, sculpture and text, Bedwyr Williams investigates the friction between the deadly serious and banal aspects of modern life. He often satirises the role of the artist and curator against this backdrop, creating cruel and absurd scenarios for them to appear in.

Shortlisted Venues:
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol; Somerset House, London; 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Lincolnshire

Where will you send Bedwyr Williams? Cast your vote here.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three Museums at Night Connect! hits from last year

Alinah Azadeh on Burning Books at the Freud Museum

Luke Jerram on clocks and testing something new in Honiton

Pure Evil on bunny rabbits and electronica at Dundee's Verdant Mill
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