Network to Meshwork

From Network to Meshwork

All the way back in 2018, we started the ‘Models of Validation’ project, in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University and InnovateUK. Its aim was to understand more about the challenges faced by social practice artists, particularly when it comes to accessing critical support, acclaim and development opportunities–essential ingredients for validation.

Since then we’ve interviewed more than 40 social practice artists, commissioners and researchers, worked closely with our fantastic stakeholder group of 150 experts and commissioned a new programme dedicated to social practice, called Social Works?. This report, From Network to Meshwork: Validation for Social Practice Art and Artists is one of the outcomes of this work – and we are hugely excited to be able to share it with you now. With a foreword by R.M. Sánchez-Camus of Social Art Network, it details the five interlocking issues identified in our conversations with artists, including the difficulty of articulating social practice, its definitions, values and roles; unrealistic and/or unreasonable expectations from project partners; lack of infrastructural support for social projects and the perceived second-class status of social practice in the art world—and some possible solutions, via a flattened and emergent artist-led approach to validation and exchange. 

You can read From Network to Meshwork below. For the time-pressed, there’s an Executive Summary which gives just the headlines of our findings and recommendations, and the full report, if you want to delve deeper into the discussion.

We are indebted to all those who worked with us to make this happen and wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave their time to talk about their experiences and ideas. We are currently working on a new programme of commissions and opportunities for social practice artists so do keep watching this space for more exciting developments from Axisweb ahead!

To join the conversation online, you can use the hashtag #NetworkToMeshwork. We’d love to hear your thoughts…