Associate Artist Jonathan Kelham is the man behind UGO Project Space, currently exhibiting at 70 Bevois Road. We caught up with Jonathan to hear of success, obstacles and plans for the future.
> What is it all About?
Hello, UGO Project Space is a rolling programme of commissioned artworks by contemporary, internationally renowned artist. UGO has a specific format / space, which utilises underused billboards to present these large scale public artworks. This is basically it…the framework for the project at the moment.
> What did you use as a starting point or inspiration for your project?
Well, the idea of UGO started with an abandoned billboard, which I cycled past on the way to work each day. I tentatively asked a few great artists if they would like to create an artwork, considering the context and purpose of the specific platform of a billboard. Amazingly everyone said yes.
This got the idea off the ground and forced me to actually try and realise the project. The next day the billboard fell down, in the aftermath of Storm Katie. I guess after years of neglect.
Thanks to HaHa Gallery, I heard about the opportunities associated with the British Art Show 8 and this resulting support allowed UGO to go.
> What do you hope visitors will experience or take away from the project?
The accessibility of the project is defiantly the most important aspect for me, its in a great unassuming location. Each artwork is on display for two weeks, and I hope that people just pass it and consider public arts purpose, whether commuting out of town on the number 7 bus, getting their shopping from Aldi or heading to The Guild Dog as much as anyone going to specifically visit it. If people look at it more then once, and question what it is, that would be great, regardless of if they are aware of it’s critical visual art context.
> What has been the most challenging about working on the Southampton Fringe Project?
Finding a new billboard…defiantly.
> Why do you think it is important to nurture contemporary and visual art in regions outside of London?
I guess, for all the reasons the capital wants to too. It instigates debate, makes us feel better, develops community, generates positive identity and a desirable ownership. Typically becoming the catalyst for lots of extrinsic stuff like regeneration, commerce but it subsequently brings better creative opportunities. You know…everything is made.
Do what you can.
> What other events?
As an institution for contemporary critical art in Southampton anything the HaHa Gallery does is swell, the I’M FEELING SO VIRTUAL I’M VIOLENT show as part of the Fringe was both seductive and anxiety inducting. I’d have liked to have spent more time at Jethro German’s ONE TOOL DOES IT ALL, but an urgent nappy change needed to take place. And I hope to get back to see the altered version of Paul Vivan’s Tardiness… installation at K6 Gallery, which is an immersive and relaxing experience in town.
> What do you think about the presence of BAS8 in Southampton / Fringe will mean for Southampton and cultural scene?
Hopefully it will ride the wave of the impending opening of the Cultural Quarter, it’s great that Southampton can already entice such significant shows to the city. I guess, instigating a more overt and identifiable cultural scene, if people actually know that old office building or warehouse etc. is a printers, a nationally renowned gallery, critical project space or funded studio etc. then this can only help generate ownership, subsequent support and opportunity.
What does it mean to you?
It means that Southampton is engaged in important, relevant and critical contemporary art, providing and promoting opportunities for equally playful and significant discourse.