Spotlight: Jamboree 2018 - A National Gathering of Artists & Curators

Jamboree 2015.

Jamboree 2015.

Taking place from 28 June - 1 July, Jamboree 2018 will bring together 150 visual artists, curators and programmers from around the UK to the Dartington Estate near Totnes in Devon.

Developed by LOW PROFILE (artists Rachel Dobbs & Hannah Rose) in response to their position as artists who struggle to meet others working in the arts (due to money, geography, time, other work and family commitments), Jamboree 2018 offers the chance for artists, curators and programmers to meet others, collaborate, stop, engage and recharge in beautiful surroundings and a positive, critically-engaged environment.

In advance of pre-registration closing for the event next week, we find out more about the opportunity from LOW PROFILE and the Jamboree team.


How did the idea of Jamboree come about?

As artists with quite a few years of experience behind us, who have chosen to base our lives and arts practice outside of an established visual art “hub”, we sometimes feel quite out on a limb… Lots more things have started to happen over the last five years or so in Plymouth (where we live and work), but due to a range of social and practical factors (including the cost of travel, distances involved and balancing the the time taken to regularly go and meet peers outside of our region with other commitments - like other jobs, families and relationships), we sometimes struggle to meet other artists and curators and our network has felt very localised at times.

Although online platforms and communication make it easier in many ways to find out about other artists’ work and see documentation of exhibitions and events, our desire to bring people together in one place - to meet face-to-face in an intensive environment to get to know each other and each other’s ­­practice - reflects positive experiences we had in earlier parts of our career as part of the UK’s live art scene. Showing work at live art festivals meant traveling to events that brought practitioners together on an equal footing, to hang out, form friendships and share experiences, alongside the activity of showing your own, and seeing each other's, work.

Jamboree is partly a response to those experiences - wanting to find new ways for visual artists and curators to meet new people and to share practice, in a supportive and critically engaged environment. Staying in one place together (with 150 other people who work in the arts) for a few days means that there will be plenty of time to relax and meet each other in an informal way which will hopefully (alongside the Jamboree programme itself) help people build new relationships.


Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

The first edition of Jamboree took place in 2015 in Plymouth with only 16 artists. Why expand to 150?

The first iteration of Jamboree took the form of a residential workshop hosted at Plymouth Arts Centre (November 2015) over 3 days, with 16 artist participants (selected from 6 artist run associate schemes from across the UK) and guest curator Martin Clark (who was then the director at Bergen Kunsthall & Artistic Director of Art Sheffield).

We set this up as a very DIY, low-budget way to bring artists from around the UK to where we lived, so we could meet new people, and so that they could meet each other. We wanted to test ways that we could proactively change something about the issues we were facing (feeling cut off/localised from a national network) and to see what benefit this would have for others too.

After the workshop, the Jamboree participants went on to build on their new connections, insights and understanding in a range of different ways, including initiating field-trips, studio visits, meet-ups, exhibitions, new opportunities & residencies. Based on our experiences of being part of workshops/events where this type of generative artist-led activity had formed out of being part of something together, we had a hunch that Jamboree might become a platform for these types of outcomes, but it was great to see that it really worked in this way.

When a-n offered us support to develop the Jamboree project further, we decided that we’d like to design the event so that we could take part more fully as participants and practitioners (rather than facilitators). We also wanted to work out a situation that would be more attractive to artists and curators at a range of career stages, from early career through to more established practitioners. This has all really informed our decision-making process around the shape for Jamboree 2018 - a long-weekend away, camping with other artists & curators, introducing their work to each other in a range of relaxed ways, getting to know each other and potentially forming new professional relationships.”

We are really excited about expanding the initial pilot project from 16 to 150 participants; meaning we can bring a diverse (geographically, creatively, at different career stages) group of practitioners together to co-deliver the programme and to share ideas and work.


Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

Why should artists, curators, arts organisers and programmers attend? What should we expect? 

There are a number of different programme strands across the four days, most of which are participant-led. Our seminar series, led by six invited artists and curators, explores specific areas of interest and creative processes. The seminar leaders are: Celine Condorelli, Sonya Dyer, Alistair Hudson, Simon Morrissey, Emily Speed, and Ingrid Swenson.

We’ll have nightly screenings of participants' short video-works or project documentation, giving artists & curators an opportunity to share their work with other participants.

There are the 20:20 talks; pecha kucha-style quick-fire presentations by attendees introducing their arts practice and projects to the Jamboree audience.

The Walk and Talk strand is an opportunity for artist or curator-led, mobile (walking, moving, pausing) outdoor discussion groups, focused on specialist subject areas, topics or obsessions that surround, come from, or informs their practice. Walk leaders encourage and facilitate conversation around their chosen topic, share their knowledge and make links between this and the rest of the group’s experiences or expertise.

Communal making sessions are artist led practical sessions exploring an element of an artist's practice that benefits from communal making or participation. Participation may entail attendees physically supporting the making or production of a work, or could be through participating as performers, bodies to make something together, or test out an experimental group activity.

The artists and curators miniatures strand of the programme is an informal exhibition of scaled-down or more portable aspects of artists & curators practices, with drop in sessions for attendees to meet and get to know each other's work.

The Jamboree Camp Shop will stock a few essentials and the sale of small scale affordable artworks, limited editions and ephemera by Jamboree attendees.


Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

Jamboree 2015. Image: Dom Moore.

What are you most looking forward to?

It sounds a bit cliched, but we are excited by all of the programme really! We can’t wait to discuss topics with others while roaming around the countryside on the Walks & Talks (inspired in part by the Cornwall Workshop & Penzance Convention’s Field Trips), or take part in the Communal Making sessions (where artists explore an element of their practice that benefits from participation with other attendees - inspired by situations like the workshops & jams at Supernormal festival). It’s going to be great to hear about lots of other artists’ projects in the 20:20 Talks and see what people bring along for the Artists & Curators Miniatures display and Camp Shop… plus the camping, film watching and hanging out in the sunshine - hopefully guaranteed!

Video still from  A cap, like water, transparent, fluid yet with definite body , Bryony Gillard, 2018.

Video still from A cap, like water, transparent, fluid yet with definite body, Bryony Gillard, 2018.

Is there a current exhibition in the Plymouth area you would particularly recommend?

The Jamboree team loved the show that has just closed at Plymouth Arts Centre: Clare Thornton’s Materials of Resistance. Clare produced a sculptural installation comprising works that adorned the interior spaces of PAC, employing coiled, extruded clay and draped, printed pieces to explore time and pressure upon materials teetering on the edge of collapse. The tension between fragility and strength was amazing; hopefully some of the CVAN readers got to see this brilliant exhibition.

We are looking forward to the opening of the Plymouth Film Showcase at Peninsula Arts next week, particularly a new performance and film work by Bryony Gillard. A Cap, Like Water, Transparent, Fluid Yet With Definite Body forms part of a larger project by Bryony exploring relationships between landscape, alterity, retreat and resistance. The film uses as its starting point the writings of the marginalised bisexual poet, H.D and her ‘jellyfish experience’ of a period psychic breakdown, retreat and sexual awakening on the Isles of Scilly in the early 20th century, in which she envisioned tentacular connections between the female erotic body and mind.


Jamboree 2018 takes place from 28 June - 1 July at the Dartington Estate, Devon. A weekend pass costs £80. This includes 3 nights camping and 1 x communal meal.

Jamboree 2018 is limited to 150 participants due to venue capacity and available budget. This size of group also means that attendees will have a good chance of meeting, engaging with and getting to know each other. 

Due to the limited capacity of the event, a pre-registration process has been set up to ensure attendees are professionally engaged in visual arts practice; there is a mix of participants coming from across the U;, there is a mix of artists and curators with a range of different practices and approaches; and artists and curators at different stages of their professional career attend.

Pre-registration for Jamboree closes on Thursday 1 February 2018.

Further information can be found here.