In May 2012 Outset supported The Penzance Convention, a three-day conference in expanded form which is conceived as an international meeting of artists, curators, writers, scientists, historians, philosophers and experts from other fields, with an emphasis on exchange of views and experiences. The Convention focused on the far west of Cornwall, drawing on histories specific to this locale. In addition to field trips and conference presentations, it offered opportunities for informal debate and social exchange.
The Penzance Convention reflected on the theme of extraction, with reference both to the social and environmental legacies of Cornwall’s extractive industries – mining and fishing in particular – and to the processes by which artists draw meaning from history and site.
Framing The Penzance Convention and deepening exploration of the theme, The Exchange presented an exhibition of projected image, which was part of an eight-week programme of educational activities and artist-led events and discussions organised around the theme of extraction.
Extraction: Projection included week-long presentations selected by guest curators José Roca from Colombia, and Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieska Pindera from Poland, supported by visits and talks.
Artist Abigail Reynolds designed a transformation of The Exchange, drawing on the tradition of the artist’s cinema and of low cost alternative art spaces. This space presented Extraction: Projection and accommodated The Penzance Convention.
Abigail Reynolds worked with volunteers to construct the cinematic environment for Extraction: Projection. Entitled Extraction/Exchange, the installation was made of corrugated card, pallets and reclaimed wood, with references to disparate sources from picture palaces to modernist architecture, as well as to local sites. The environment was adapted and extended for The Penzance Convention, where it provided seating for 160 people.
A partnership with the world-renowned Camborne School of Mines supported field trips to mine workings ancient and contemporary, including exploration of naturally occurring substances – such as arsenic and radon – that are concomitants of Cornwall’s geology. Newlyn harbour was the site of an exploration of the contemporary fishing industry and artist Billy Wynter led a coast-to-coast walk from Gurnard’s Head to Penzance in company with local historian Jon Brookes.
Speakers included artist John Gerrard and Miroslav Balka, Allen Buckley, author of The Story of Mining in Cornwall and many other publications on Cornish industrial history, Esther Leslie of Birkbeck College, University of London, author of Synthetic Worlds, and Shaun Lewin from the University of Plymouth, a spatial data specialist who has been closely involved in the development and implementation of England’s first comprehensive mapping of inshore fishing; Andrea Schlieker, curator of the Folkestone Triennial, 2008 and 2011, artist Nils Norman, and Sally Tallant, Artistic Director of Liverpool Biennial.
The Penzance Convention has been initiated by the independent curator Teresa Gleadowe, convenor of the event with artist Hadrian Pigott, Chair of the Penzance Seafront Forum, and in partnership with Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, Penzance.