How did Freehold Projects come about?
Freehold Projects came about through conversations with Axisweb and within our own group of friends and colleagues. As recent graduates we were keen to find a space in the art world where we and others at a similar level would fit in, we wanted Freehold to become a stepping stone between university and bigger, more established platforms.
Does the group have a curatorial rationale in terms of programming? If so what is it?
We wanted to be open and accessible, where we welcomed proposals from students, more established artists and people who had found their way into art in a less traditional way. We wanted to expand who we worked with and establish relationships with individuals or groups who we hadn’t already come into contact with. We were also interested in establishing Freehold within the art world in Leeds, working with projects and groups we were already connected to.
serf, '...Even If It's Someone Else's', September 2019. Image courtesy of Index Festival
Tell us about some of the projects you've undertaken in the Axisweb Vacant Space in Leeds
Over the 10 months we occupied the Vacant Space, we worked with artists to organise exhibitions, events, film screenings, talks and group crits. Our first event was an open-call screening of artists' films. Through one of our open crits we met artist John O’Connor and worked with him to exhibit his collection of over 400 observational drawings of Leeds City Centre in his first solo show ‘365 Days of Drawing’. In the summer we hosted Index Festival, the fringe festival in conjunction with Yorkshire Sculpture International. As part of Index Festival we hosted the artist group serf with their group show ‘…Even If It’s Someone Else’s’. Towards the end of our programme we hosted the group show ‘Postcurse’ organised by Joshua Hart which included a walkaround by the artist offering a reading of the show.
Joshua Hart, 'Postcurse', October 2019. Image courtesy of Freehold Projects
What are some of the challenges you've faced as an artist-led space?
Being volunteer-run, the biggest challenge is finding time to run Freehold, particularly working in a large group, finding time where all 12 of us can meet has proved challenging throughout the time we’ve had the space. Also as a self-funded project, we were limited to what we could offer artists.
What's coming up for Freehold Projects?
For the minute we are taking a hiatus whilst we consider the next steps. We want to continue working together and with other artists, potentially hosting exhibitions and events nomadically, using the connections we’ve made through Freehold.
Is there anything else you'd like to say or tell us about?
'Showing Up', serf, February 2020. Image courtesy of Freehold Projects
As a thank you for hosting serf, we were offered time to exhibit as Freehold in serf’s project space. We wanted to use this opportunity to work together as a group to create a piece of work that would say something about our experience of running an artist-led space. This developed into ‘Showing Up’, a collection of videos showcasing Freehold as a football team. The idea behind this was to consider how and why we run Freehold, using a team sport as an exercise in collaboration and procrastination. In the run up to ‘Showing Up’ opening we learned we would be losing our Vacant Space, the show became a bittersweet way to finish our time in our Leeds space.