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Paul’s residency ran from April to November 2015 with activity focusing around two key events; Castlegate Festival and Yorkshire Artspace Open Studios. At a very early stage Paul initiated COCOA (Castlegate Open Community of Artists);
“Conversations build communities, and one of my current aims for this residency is to create a temporary community of artists that will ‘shine a light’ on the Castlegate quarter.”
The first Castlegate Festival, in partnership with the University of Sheffield, was held in June and enjoyed the creative involvement of artists and participants from all over Sheffield. COCOA was heavily involved, encouraging more than 1,000 visitors to creatively interact with this part of the city, in ways they hadn't done before.
Other Residency activity included Shine a Light on Castlegate; a film screened onto an exterior wall of Exchange Place Studios during Open Studios, and a collaboration with Made North to develop The COCOA Street Signs, which contributed to the British Road Sign Project marking the 50th Anniversary of the British Road Sign. Three unique road signs on the theme of ‘artist at work’ were created from designs made by young people from High Storrs School during a workshop led by Paul and these were displayed in the Castlegate area during Open Studios.
Another highlight of Pauls’ residency was The Train of History developed with ARTBOAT artists Soo Boswell and Charlie Narozanska and pupils from primary schools around Manor Lodge. Designed for Mary Queen of Scots, the train, or robe, was decorated in workshops by primary school children and featured a bold representation of the rivers Sheaf and Don, the point of their meeting or confluence being a key defensive feature at the original site of Sheffield Castle. The Train of History was presented during a ‘haunting’ by Mary Queen of Scots during Open Studios.
“I suppose that it was ambitious from the outset to try to create an artistic ‘community’ – however temporary – but I do think that we have succeeded in establishing some very strong connections that didn’t exist before between individuals – and I am confident that these connections will be of a lasting nature. I really do think that Studio COCOA has brought people closer together and Art has been at is the heart of this; Art performing its primary, age old social function – creating a space in which conversations can take place and in which happy social interactions can occur and be made material.”