Located on the ground floor of esteemed British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s warehouse studio alongside Regent’s Canal, Guest Projects offers artists of any discipline the freedom of a free project space for a one-month residency. Run by Shonibare’s studio, in collaboration with Imogen Wright, the space’s coordinator, it’s situated by the hip Broadway Market in Hackney. Conceived by Shonibare in 2009, Guest Projects provides young artists with the opportunity to create and showcase their work, without the financial pressures that often come with producing and exhibiting new work. Time and space are both essential to creative production, yet are often hard to come by. Shonibare’s experiences as a young artist saw him learn this firsthand and inspired him to set up the program.
Laura Purseglove: What inspired the opening of this project space?
Imogen Wright: Yinka opened the space as he felt that in his early years as a practicing artist there were far more available and affordable spaces in London for a young artist to exhibit. Today, with the increasingly high prices for property and renting in London, it has become very hard and in some cases impossible for young artists to exhibit their artwork.
LP: Can you tell us a bit about the program?
IW: Between March and May each year, Guest Projects advertises open submissions for the following year, for artists of any discipline to submit a proposal to use the space for one month. We only accept group shows/projects—no solo shows.
After the deadline, Yinka, together with a panel of artists, scores each submitted application. The top scoring projects across the board are then chosen and offered a one month residency for the following year. We receive a huge range of applications each year, ranging from performance artists, dance groups, music groups, theater groups, visual arts, curatorial projects, and charities.
In the Guest Projects space we also run a bi-monthly supper club, inspired by renowned artists or artist movements, called The Artist Dining Room.
LP: In your opinion, what makes a gallery successful?
IW: Yinka believes that the success of a project space is in offering the artists a platform to fail—to experiment. The project space detaches itself from the pressures associated with the model of a commercial galley: sales.