Seldom is it a sight to see today an impoverished, ascetic arts student; for now it is all about the iPad-toting entrepreneurs, savvy to self-promotion and community engagement, to which SAVORR is becoming a sturdy platform in this evolving and capricious art market.
Launched in June 2011, SAVORR was set up as a bi-monthly, open submission event. Running for one night only and occupying spaces otherwise vacant across Norwich, the aim of these events is to encourage discussion and advocate collaborations between participants. Open for 24/48 hours only, the intention of SAVORR’s ‘pop-up’ shows is to facilitate for ‘a younger cultural scene in Norwich’. Departing from a traditional exhibition display that can have difficulty in retaining a consistent visitor presence, founder and Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) graduate, Henry Jackson Newcomb, has aimed to direct SAVORR as an event in which attendees and ambience play as much a part in its success as the works on show.
Deriving from the verb ‘savour’, adopting the North American spelling, and elongating the word for originality, Jackson Newcomb took inspiration from curator and museum director, Walter Hopps’s 1978 show ’Thirty-Six Hours’, held at the Museum of Temporary Art (MoTA) in Washington D.C., in which works by well and little-known artists were hung over a day-and-a-half period; the emphasis of the show being placed on community interaction: an homage to early avant-gardism, which later transpired into ‘scenes’ often employed by mid-century American artists looking for ways of fusing commodity and creativity.
Open to all disciplines, the breadth of applicants serves to position SAVORR as an active hub for creative dialogue between students, graduates and practicing artists. In addition, each show includes the work of one featured artist or collective who has been given a separate solo exhibition space in conjunction with the wider event; Gareth Bayliss was chosen for residence at SAVORR V, with the next six artists already finalised for the next twelve months, including York-based OUI Performance co-founder Victoria Gray and Patrick Coyle, who recently exhibited at Cecil Court’s Tenderpixel in London.
SAVORR V played host to a selection of participants that included Suzanne Antonelli, George Browne, Charlie Rutherford, Georgia Dodson, James Epp, Isabel Gylling & Jules Devonshire, Benedict Hemmens, Allison Humphrey, Rachel Kurdynowska, Kate Murphy, Henry Jackson Newcomb, Tessa Newcomb and Telfer Stokes. Redwell Street was a site Jackson Newcomb had wanted to use for a while, but with all properties picked by SAVORR, persuading landlords and council alike to lease them out has at times proved difficult. More often than not, however, many are happy to see empty spaces turned into places of activity, even if for a short time, as long as costs are covered and locations publicised. As Jackson Newcomb has found, some owners have been swayed by the fact that often artists provide superficial restoration work to their properties in preparation for the event.
2012 looks to be a busy year for SAVORR, with plans to organise a recurrent annual London event in the following twelve months. Jackson Newcomb is also keen to encourage a younger audience to the shows and will be launching a project which will see local school and college students taken round SAVORR events prior to openings, shown round by the artists and independent curators, offering an education beyond the classroom.
SAVORR, along with Jackson Newcomb and its other promoters, Benedict Hemmens, Sophia Victoria, John Walters and Simon Welfare marks the changing and diversifying roles artists now have to embody. In a society in which communication is abundant, never before has it been so difficult to get your voice and your work heard. In the same way that SAVORR allows participants to define their own space separately but still create a continuous juxtaposition and concept; hopefully, these events will provide an idiosyncratic and consistent support network for both upcoming and established artists, not only in Norwich but nationwide.
Words by Holly Howarth.
SAVORR V was held at 8 Redwell Street, Norwich, NR24SN.