Torre Abbey Historic House & Gardens, Devon

Nathalie Palin, 15.10.2015
Becoming a hub for artistic engagement
Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens in Torquay, Devon, is home to Torbay Borough’s art collection. Building on Art on the English Riviera and Extended Cloister, two previous artistic interventions in 2009 and 2010, we aspire to become a hub for artistic engagement.

Between June 2014 and June this year, Kate Paxman, an artist with Smooth Space, a visual arts organisation in Torbay, worked at Torre Abbey supported by Arts Council England. Her research-led practice explores the nature of site, archaeology and heritage and the changing landscape. Her work takes the form of moving image and sound installations.

Key elements of the residency included:

  • Weekly artist-led research onsite with collections and historic environment staff.
  • Regular opportunities for visitors to meet Paxman and discuss progress.
  • A public programme of artists conversations with internationally-renowned artists.
  • Residency-linked creative programme with Double Elephant, a printmaking studio, engaging young people and adults, supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All grants.
  • Pop-up studios and two final exhibitions that were in free and paid-entry areas across the Torre Abbey site.
Key success factors:

  • The full-year residency allowed the artist time to fully develop ideas and build relationships with staff.
  • Artists conversations and creative engagement diversified engagement and extended impact. The residency provided Smooth Space with an opportunity to approach international artists. For Torbay, which is an Arts Council England priority area, this directly supported raising aspirations, quality and engagement.
  • Smooth Space and Torre Abbey both had experience of collaborating across artistic/heritage contexts and this brought knowledge and understanding to the partnership.

We are now developing a long-term residency programme, with Smooth Space as creative producer supporting opportunities for new artists at Torre Abbey and other museums.

Nathalie Palin is the development advisor at Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens