Nottingham Contemporary Blog #1

Note from the editor: this series of blogs will follow Mary Strickson in documenting her time and thoughts at Nottingham Contemporary art gallery throughout the year.

Back in May, I wrote a tentative email to Alice Thickett at Nottingham Contemporary, explaining that I wanted to know about ways to get involved with the gallery. At the time I knew about Nottingham Contemporary and its free galleries. I regularly visited exhibitions but I knew next to nothing about its youth programme!

Alice explained that she was running the programme for young people who wanted to get involved in the gallery. And she was starting a new Advocate strand, so that more 15-25 year olds could get involved. She told me that Nottingham Contemporary was part of Circuit, a national programme which aims to connect 15-25 year olds to the arts in museums and galleries. It is led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Alice and I met up in the Café Bar and got chatting over coffee. At the time I was the first and only recruit to this new scheme, but was reassured she would be recruiting others. Sure enough as I write now, over 15 people have signed up and anyone aged 15-25 is welcome to join at any point.

So what exactly is this scheme? How does it work? To be an Advocate, you must complete eight simple tasks. By completing the tasks, you will have gained valuable experience and a reference from Nottingham Contemporary.


So far I have completed five tasks, and have attended the exhibition opening, events, talks, films, and live music, not to mention visits to the exhibitions. I also ran a stall at Freshers Fair, and helped out at various events and attend fortnightly meetings, where we contribute ideas for the youth programme and think of ways to attract other young people to our events. We have a huge input into Nottingham Contemporary’s plans, which is really exciting.

We are currently planning for a big arts festival to be held in October 2015 for people aged 15 – 25. Which shoes how creative you can be with the Advocate tasks. It is super flexible and fits around my student life easily. To document the tasks, I kept a sketchbook which included photographs and thoughts galore But as the project has progressed I now prefer to write up my experiences on my own blog. The scheme has definitely inspired my creativeness overall!


As well as the Advocate scheme and planning the October 2015 festival, this month new artist workshops have started. Every month, a different guest artist will lead four sessions on Fridays between 6pm and 8pm. These sessions will culminate in an art and live music social on the last Saturday of every month, called COLLABOR-8. We held a COLLABOR-8 event at the end of September and it was hugely successful as a platform for enjoying live bands and music, chatting with friends, sharing a mocktail and enjoying free food. In the coming months, I will be telling you all about the Advocate tasks I have completed so far, and will keep you up to date with happenings at Nottingham Contemporary!

Mary Strickson

For more information about attending artist workshops or joining the Advocate scheme, please contact

The next COLLABOR-8 event will be held on Saturday 25th October

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