Creative Week 2013: Interview with the Organisers

‘Three weeks of nothing’, that magical phrase delineating the golden period of time post-exams, is stereotypically defined by sleeping all day, partying all night, making the most of the fleeting sunshine, and lots and lots of alcohol. But for the organisers of Durham Creative Week 2013 (Charlotte Hallaways, Dean Kayton and Martin Dehnel), this breathing space before the summer holidays kick off is a prime opportunity to both showcase and get involved with the plethora of creative talent that Durham has to offer.

Beginning from Monday 10th June and culminating in a big exhibition showcasing examples of student creativity across the range of Durham’s creative societies on Saturday 15th June, the week seeks to bring together as many Durham societies’ creative events as possible under the banner of Durham Creative Week 2013. Dean Kayton, one of the organisers of the week and president of Durham’s Design Society commented, ‘collaboration in my view brings out the best in creativity’.

With events ranging from a watercolour workshop to a ‘HackDay’, which involves working and creating with electronics and gadgets, Durham Creative Week essentially provides a forum to make it easy for societies to promote their events and for others to discover something new and exciting to do. The Bubble interviewed two of its organisers, Dean Kayton and Charlotte Hallaways (also president of Art Society), to find out more about this latest addition to Durham’s creative scene.

What made you decide to set up Creative Week?

Charlotte Hallaways: Dean and I had been talking about collaborating for a session during the year, and through those chats, hatched the idea to put on a big event or exhibition which developed to this creative week idea. We wanted to get lots of societies involved and give everyone an excuse to get creative and do something different. Post-exams made sense as everyone would have time. It nearly didn’t happen as it’s a lot to organise and we couldn’t do much over exams but we were all really keen to do it and to give it a go! Hopefully it will become a tradition in Durham.

Dean Kayton: It started with an idea for an exhibition. I personally wanted to see the creative work of Durham students featured in one place. The Creative Week arose as a means to get everyone involved and working together regardless of the societies subscribed to. Collaboration in my view brings out the best in creativity.

Are community-led initiatives such as this particularly important given the current economic climate?

CH: I think in these hard times it’s extra important to promote the arts; the arts provide people with goals and purposes and, at the very least, distractions that enhance the community rather than negatively affect it. I think creative projects can enhance a community – visually of course but also by giving them focus and a sense of achievement and pride. Working with Empty Shop (a Durham-based non-profit arts organization) at the beginning of the year was personally very interesting for me. They’ve always remained independent and self-sufficient so that they were immune from cuts and I think their model has a lot to offer other organisations. Organisations have to be creative in the way they run too, more now than ever. Art Society has been nomadic this year since we lost our studio space and in the Empty Shop spirit we’ve tried to use different places in town to our mutual benefit. The great thing about art and creativity too is that it can be produced from nothing, so in economic difficulties it is certainly something that can thrive – unlike most things, all you need is passion and creativity, something we hope Creative Week will show that Durham students have!

DK: I think community-led initiatives are important regardless of the economic climate. Creative ventures work best when the attendees have had a hand in the event setup and everyone feels part of something special.

What are your thoughts on the Durham art/creative scene?

CH: I think the creative side of Durham is often overlooked, except for theatrics. There are so many sports and academic groups but not many collaborative creative groups. There is a lot of talent here. So many people are exceptional drawers/painters, designers and musicians and we wanted a week that could not only bring that out but also showcase it.

DK: I definitely think the talent is there. The music and theatre scene is thriving but I think the other creative disciplines could do with better coordination and leadership. Creative Week is a little step in that direction.

Could you elaborate on a few of the workshops and events which we can look forward to?

CH: (Art Society’s) Photography walk is a highlight for me obviously as it’s an accessible event for everyone regardless of their interests. Durham is beautiful in the summer and we hope that it will provide inspiration for poets, painters and engineers alike!

It’s also not confirmed at the moment but Lumiere Society (a society established this year that aims to put on “enlightening” films to provoke thought and interest) are putting on a film that again, will not be conventionally creative in that it won’t be about art and so on but will be a great example of film-making and creative presentation.

Art Society is particularly interested to put on a watercolour workshop this week too with Nicola Holdsworth, an exceptionally talented artist from North Yorkshire (and ex – Trevs student)! The session has to have a cap so that everyone can get special attention but for those attending it will be a really worthwhile experience and a great chance to learn how to use watercolours, which are notoriously hard to use!

At the beginning of the year we worked with Empty Shop who are personally keen to integrate with the University and integrate and enhance the art scene in Durham. We’ve taken that on board too and have held a lot of our sessions in local establishments. This session will be held in Esquires, making the most of their upstairs space which is often empty. It’s a great space for us to use and with a 20% discount for each attendee will hopefully be worthwhile for them too!

DK: Our website and event page has all of the details listed. It includes a photography walk, a creative writing session, a logo design competition, an electronic hack-day and more.

Durham Creative Week 2013 runs till Saturday 15th of June. To promote your own event as part of the week or to find out more, visit its website here and the Facebook event here.

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