A new visual arts organisation promoting and commissioning major solo exhibitions; group and thematic shows; a programme of events, including performances, film screenings, workshops and talks; as well as off-site projects and temporary public artworks.
Led by Reading School of Art at the University of Reading and hosted by a rich mix of partners within the town, Reading International produces several major projects each year. The organisation invites international artists and curators to create new work in response to the unique social and historical context of the town, the university and the wider county.
The organisation began when Director and Professor of Fine Art, Susanne Clausen and colleagues wanted to set up a contemporary art gallery in and out of the School of Art, and to create opportunities not only for staff and students but to build on the School's expertise to connect with local arts organisations.
Students at Reading School of Art have been involved in the organisation from the start, either by working alongside artists and curators to set-up various exhibitions, or by engaging audiences in the discussion and interpretation of the art projects.
"The project helps me to build opportunities and networks that I would not be able to create on my own. It's exciting to be part of - and to help deliver - this contextually relevant art project. It helps me with my own research and art making, and it means that I'm part of a wider discussion on contemporary art."
An example of student involvement could be seen at exhibition The Critic as Artist at Reading Museum, about the Irish writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde, co-curated by novelist and writer Michael Bracewell.
Over the course of the exhibition, students performed their favourite Oscar Wilde text as part of an ongoing installation by artist Marc Camille Chaimovicz.
"With Reading International we are testing new forms of co-operation between artists, curators, students, academics and other arts organisations. We are looking at innovative and progressive ways for us as an art school to define ourselves both as leaders of art production and exhibition making as well as a new hub for connecting with art audiences.
"We are keen for our students not only to understand how to develop their skills and knowledge as artists but also to really understand how to engage with the professional art world."
exhibitions and projects
All of Reading International's exhibitions are located in various partner enterprises in Reading, including the exhibition which kick-started the organisation, a collaboration with London-based Arts organisation Artangel at Reading Prison. Another project brought together thirty world-class artists' painting and drawings, hosted by a local Nepalese cafe. Other projects include exhibitions in Reading Museum and in the University's own Museum of English Rural Life, as well as performances in local libraries and schools.
In 2017, Reading International invited artist Scott King and writer Matt Worley, to develop an edition of Crash! presents A Better Britain II: Britlin's at Reading's iconic Thames Tower. The exhibition offered visitors panoramic views of Reading whilst they explored a satirical design proposal to restructure the UK like a 1970s holiday camp, based on the collective nostalgia that fuelled the Brexit vote.
"Reading International improves the arts and culture in Reading, and becomes a catalyst for other events and projects."
Reading International continues to grow and develop and is underpinned by the goal of involving the local community with truly international art, whilst keeping students at Reading School of Art as involved as possible in the art world outside their own University studios.
For more information, please visit the Reading International website.