You built your own gallery - how did that all begin?


White Wizard began for two reasons, the first was that I was paying for a studio space at The Royal Standard, but because I'm back at uni and working mostly on my computer I wasn't using it as much as I would have liked. Also, I've been involved in collective projects in Liverpool since I moved here in 2010 from London, and I started to wonder what it would be like to work on my own, focusing more on my own research interests.

 

Why did you feel it was important to build and curate in your own space?

 


The more I thought about starting White Wizard the more it made sense. Liverpool has loads of bigger institutional spaces, but not so many for younger, less well-established artists, so there's possibly a gap there. White Wizard is a studio space/project space, so it's really flexible; I can put things on at short notice, choose who I want to show and how it looks without much fuss. I also felt it was important to have another space in the city where Liverpool artists can exhibit and be taken seriously.

 

When we talk about "building" and "DIY" people think of bricks and mortar, but it's so much more than that. How does it feel to create something new?


It's exciting to see something that started out as an idea in your head become a 'thing' that people will visit and support. As I've worked with artists from other places too, like Derek Mainella from Toronto, it's fun to see the audience grow and become international via the web and social media. Also it's empowering, again, to have an idea and see it happen. I also feel as if I'm helping Liverpool gain a bit more critical mass in terms of how the city is perceived as a place to live and make art, which is important.

 

Do you think that Liverpool / UK / the world, needs more independently-run spaces like this?

 

Definitely. It's vital that artists get out there and make their work visible to other artists and the wider community. We have a role to play and can't wait for curators or gallerists to appear out of nowhere to show our work.

 

There's lots of independent venues closing down in the city to make way for commercial industry. Do you think this stops people building their own, or makes them more determined? 

 

It's always hard to get into and maintain spaces, no matter what the situation, it's just part of the cycle. I don't agree with it but it's a reality unfortunately. People have told me that there was a similar wave pre-2008 (Capital of Culture) when a lot of independent arts organisations were pushed out of the city centre to make way for redevelopment.

 

Other things spring up, people have to do what they're best at and be creative when looking for spaces. A short term opportunity can sometimes be a good thing; a chance to throw yourself into something knowing it's not going to last forever. Our experience of MODEL in the old Open Eye Gallery was a bit like this.

 

Part of Build Your Own is the launch of our pilot project FACTLab, a space for visitors to meet and learn from artists. Do you think there should be more initiatives like this to get people into creating new work?

 

Obviously it's helpful for people to get encouragement and learn new skills, but the drive has to come from the individual, or nothing will happen.

 

You have links to The Royal Standard and other artist-led spaces. How would you describe Liverpool's art community (are they a group of makers and doers?)

 

It's small but lively. One massive plus for me is that people are approachable and you can make things happen. We're seeing more and more of this in the visual art community, with Crown Building Studios appearing and 6 Gins, all of which are run by recent graduates who have chosen to stay in the city to make things happen. It's a great place to be right now.

 

If you had the skills, and could build anything you wanted, what would it be and why?

 

Probably a water slide from my flat to my studio, and work.

 

Can you tell us what's coming up at White Wizard in the next few months?

 

I'm having a summer break while I make some new work myself, so there's nothing planned til Autumn. I've come across a couple of really good artists over the last few weeks who I would like to work with, so I've started conversations with them. We'll see. I guess that's the beauty of running your own space, you can do what you like, when you like!

 

You can find out more about White Wizard and the gallery's exhibition programme here. Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing and FACTLab continue at FACT until 31 August.