DRAFT: a new supportive art community for Sheffield.


Sometimes part of the creative process can involve getting a little bit lost or feeling isolated or worn out. Everyone has those moments when they question what they’ve created (or are thinking about creating) and, at these points, it can be good to reach out into a community of like-minded individuals to seek some feedback or an injection of new ideas.
The Art House is committed to being a useful resource for everyone’s creative journey and, towards that end, we’ve teamed up with Girl Gang to offer an event which is all about offering a supportive and positive safe space where people can showcase their work, support others and get useful advice about marketing and media opportunities.
We spoke to Charly Calpin of Girl Gang about why the event offers something new and why you should attend.

The event is run by Girl Gang, for those who don’t know anything about that, what is it?
We launched Girl Gang Sheffield in 2015. We are an open collective of artists, designers, thinkers, creatives, musicians and more. Our aim is to put on exciting events around the city (and beyond) with the focus of promoting and collaborating with the wealth of talent that exists within our city.

We believe in the overwhelming power of communal support, using our talents to help others develop their own, and celebrating successes when they happen.

We’re constantly growing and are always readily welcoming new ideas. Our strength lies in collaboration, skill sharing and generating new ideas, so we are ALWAYS interested in new ideas, people and perspectives.

We aim to be an open and fluid collective of people of all genders, ages, races, sexualities and backgrounds, and would love to expand any and all of our teams.

What’s the aim of Draft?
One of the reasons Girl Gang came into existence was because we were running our own businesses, and freelancing, and at times felt lonely, unsupported, and stuck with no one to bounce ideas off!
Draft wants to aid the creative journey, with the aim to promote a positive creative environment, and to encourage new artists to showcase their work to a supportive community. We want everyone to be part of the art/creative process and community. Inclusion, support and creative exploration are the main aims.

Is this the first one?
Yes! This is a brand new event for Girl Gang we are excited to see what the response is. We are testing the water in a way, seeing if there is a want or need for it.

Who do you want to attend?
Anyone and everyone! Whether you’ve been an artist for years or thinking about giving something a go, we want you. Whether you paint, sculpt, write, perform, draw, all mediums are welcome.

Is it just for women?
Nope! The majority of our events are open to people of all genders. Our community aims to platform and celebrate women and non-binary people, and our audience is often largely made up of people who identify as women. However, all genders are welcome to support our community.
Are you yourself an artist? If so, what do you do and how has the opportunity to network and listen to other creatives helped your practice?
I am! It’s taken me a long time to be able to feel comfortable calling myself that though! It can be terrifying, to put yourself and your work out there but other people’s input can bring so much to that process; they can add new dimensions you hadn’t thought to explore, bring relief and offer you support. People may have those answers to your medium woes that you just couldn’t see beyond, they may suggest exhibition call outs and funding advice.
Also, meeting others, especially people working in different mediums, means you can see through the other lenses people may look through to view your work. And that’s really interesting and really creatively powerful – maybe they see something you haven’t or didn’t intend.

Like the Art House, Draft is about showing your art in a supportive and safe environment. Some people find the whole idea of putting their work up for scrutiny very difficult – especially in the critical Instagram style culture we live in. What would you say to people who worry about finding the experience negative or difficult?
I can totally understand that fear, I feel it myself! It’s a good fear I think, it means we care but I want to create an environment where it feels more exciting than scary, where people are there to share insights, suggestions, theory and ideas with each other not judgements. Therein lies the difference, it’s not about judging the work, but exploring it, that’s what I hope this event will promote.
It’s difficult to open yourself up, but we are about creating a supported community not reducing everything to a Like button. We understand that fear of being vulnerable but, at the same time, we know that – as creatives – being vulnerable can also be a very empowering experience. Critical thinking and asking questions are empowering acts I think we should encourage! I remember someone asking why I had done something a certain why and what relevance it had. Initially it hit a bit of a nerve but I realised I actually didn’t know why I had done what I had and it was something I felt unsure about. I went away, experimented more and made my work better! People can send you exploring options and path you hadn’t considered, or you can find a collaborator, a friend, a supporter, a critic; we need them all to push us (gently) to grow and flourish as artists.
You also have a guest speaker, Hannah Clugston. What can people expect to hear from her?
Hannah is an amazing freelance writer who has a wealth of experience writing for various independent magazines, websites and companies. She also has her hand in PR and marketing – something that, as creatives or artists, we sometimes struggle with the most. Hannah will be talking about this is an understandable way to show people what simple steps they can take – things like how to approach journalists and market yourselves in a way which can help you move towards making a living from your creativity.

Sheffield has a very strong creative community – what/who would you recommend people check out?
Yes, it’s incredible! There are so many amazing artists and spaces. I’d certainly encourage people to explore Bloc Projects. They have a new public programme starting, with workshops and talks that is going to be really interesting.
Gloam – just across the road, they opened recently and have a diverse range of work exhibited.
For gigs and artsy weirdness Delicious Clam is the place to be.
As for artists, I absolutely love illustrators Lisa O’Hara and Hannah Roast, poet/performance artists Genevieve Carver, Auriel Majumdar and Armani Turton, photographer Kelli Sara Foley and Jessica Heywood – they are all a bit magic!

And, finally, is Draft going to be an ongoing event?
We would love it to be! Each event will fund the next one so, if people want it, it will be there! I’d also (dreaming big) love to put any profit into a fund and at the end of the year anyone who bought a ticket could apply for a piece of the fund, but that’s me getting carried away.

The Draft event is on the 4th  April 19:00 to 21:00. Tickets are £5 and you can book as an ‘artist booking’ to show your work or just as a ‘general booking’ to attend and participate.

The Draft Facebook page is here.

And more about GirlGang Sheffield is here.
This is a great opportunity to be part of establishing a supportive and creative community in Sheffield and your support is appreciated.