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Green Light in the City

Get Creative Launches

19 February 15 words: Ash Dilks
Nottingham is booming when it comes to creative events, from multi-million pound galleries to grassroots spaces

Just some of Terry Shaves work

Uniting and showcasing these organisations and activities is the task of a new initiative. Championed by the BBC, Get Creative was officially launched today and will continue to develop over the next twelve months. To celebrate the launch, a number of the contributing organisations boarded the Wheel of Nottingham and got all creative in one of the gondolas.

LeftLion jumped into their glass dome with Terry Shave, professor of Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University and prolific artist to ask him about his thoughts on the arts scene in Nottingham.

Tell us a bit about your own background in the creative arts...
I'm an artist and my day job is Professor of Fine Art and Nottingham Trent University. I've been involved in arts and arts education for thirty years. I see myself first and foremost as an artist as well as an arts educator.

In terms of arts education and courses, how has the provision changed in Nottingham in the last five years?
I've been in Nottingham for just over ten years and it's changed quite dramatically. What's happened to the national curriculum is really important too, a report published this week by The Warwick Commission found that creativity, culture and the arts are being systematically removed from the education system. So we tend to see schools not providing the level of creativity that we once did so what's happening is that a lot of colleges and universities are filling that gap. In Nottingham particularly there is a huge need for it especially in the current state of the economy.

Should it be the responsibility of governments and institutions such as universities to provide the spaces and means for artists or should the onus be on the artists to find those resources themselves?
I think its got to be a partnership between those institutions and the artists themselves. I've been involved in a number of places and groups that have been forced out of areas because they couldn't afford to stay there as the cafes moved in. But I think the Nottingham scene is on the verge of exploding, just look at all the organisations that have come out on a rainy windy morning like today to celebrate together and launch the BBC Get Creative program.

Having been immersed in the cultural scenes of a number of cities how well do you think Nottingham is doing?
In the post industrial cities like Nottingham and Stoke on Trent, where I've been involved, it has been pretty tough but I think they are recognizing that creative people have developed the city and projects like World Event Young Artists (2012) couldn't have happened in Nottingham without everyone coming together and once you get that level of commitment things are bound to change. 

Do you think there is still a fear of people not getting art? They're afraid to enter a gallery because they worry they won't get it?
People shouldn't be afraid of not understanding something, because that's how you find out new things. As creative people we have to put things, even the more challenging things, in front of people so they're not frightened. It's like any sort of issue or problem you don't understand, it's hard when you feel you're on the outside looking in but if you're invited to get involved and take part you can broaden your understanding. I can't promise you'll understand everything, nobody does, but that's part of the pleasure of life. It's sometimes a difficult thing for people to accept because we are led to believe that we should know everything straight away but maybe we should enjoy the fact that some things will always be subject to interpretation.

How important is it to engage people in participating in the arts from an early age?
It's hugely important. One thing we do at the University is bring fourteen to sixteen year olds in and give them the opportunity to be creative and participate in arts and crafts that they might not have the opportunity to do otherwise. To try and give them a taste of what it would be like to be on an arts based course at university. I firmly believe that if you can inspire people from a young age that's one of the key factors in the next generation of creative individuals.  

How can organisations such as the Creative Quarter and the Universities encourage those sparks of interest from young people?
Get people really young. Working with them at a young age and using their technology, tablets and such like to engage them. The creativity that can be created on these modern devices is absolutely incredible and we shouldn't allow other generations to determine the limits of what young people can do. Look at how David Hockney, aged 76, embraced the iPad with his exhibition in 2013 why not get a three year old doing the same? People worry that it's taking their childhood away from them but it's actually adding to it, the technology isn't going away so we should embrace it.

How many students stay in a city after finishing their course is a good barometer of how the city is catering for their needs.There was a time when city regeneration would look to the creatives for the answer and we can, but it's not going to happen like magic, it's a long term commitment. I often joke that it takes quite a long time to be an overnight success you have to give it years, but as we've amassed people here today you can mobilise a flash mob quite quickly when the passion is there and we can stand together and say we all live and work in this city.

Speaking briefly of your own personal art, it's beautifully rich and decorative work, but with a complex thought process and layers of actions within it. Do you ever worry that people will see your work only as decoration?
I hope my art is looked at in a number of ways. It's very difficult without seeing the work in person because I use a unique glaze so the resulting surface is very luscious.

LeftLion are working with the Get Creative team to ensure the city’s cultural and creative events are available on our website at

Terry Shaves' website

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