For We Need Space & Time

A Finnish-British Residency for Newly Graduated Fine Art Students

The British Council Finland, The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Goldsmiths College University of London, X Presents… and HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme came together as partners to offer a new residency program open to 4 recent fine art graduates from Finland (2) and Britain (2). The one-month residency takes place in Suomenlinna, a unique UNESCO World Heritage fortress island in Helsinki and its residency studios administrated by HIAP in August 2011.

The artists were selected through an application process open for graduates of Goldsmiths College London and The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts from 2009-2010. The 4 selected artists are: Cheri Allcock, John Lee Summers, Riikka Kuoppala and Suvi Nurmi. The artists receive a grant to cover travel and living expenses; they will have 24h access to a large artist studio (100sqm/1080sqft) and receive a modest production budget for realizing the exhibitions in Helsinki and London.


For We Need Space & Time is a pilot-project with a far-reaching aim to create a lasting residency-program for newly graduated artists that would work as a bridge from being an art-student to becoming a professional artist.

The project is based on research and publication prepared for the Trondheim Manufacturing Today Bi-annual in 2009. Sarah Walters, a Goldsmiths graduate from 2009, interviewed several newly graduated European artists about their local working conditions. The main result of the research, as published in ‘Tracing the borders’, was that young artists are in serious need for time and space in order to start their professional work as artists.

Created through a number of email conversations, ‘Tracing the borders’ began with a single question. Artists were asked to answer the initial question and to then ask another participant of their choosing a new question. This structure was followed throughout; eliciting over one hundred and fifty questions and answers among the group of artists.

The resulting text raises a variety of topics that preoccupy the minds of contemporary emerging artists practicing today. Those currently based in England, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Finland and Denmark discuss their experiences of the differing conditions in the art scenes that they have been part of. From London to Jerusalem to Lapland, the discussion raises questions about
art education systems, governments’ roles in the art environment and the prevailing attitudes towards emerging artists in each location.


The purpose of this pilot-project is to provide a platform for reflecting and discussing the multifaceted relations between art-education and artist residencies. What kind of support do young artists need after graduation? What kind of support can residencies, as a powerful resource for creative work, provide for newly graduated artists?

For the two European art academies involved this project gives an opportunity to reflect on how to meet the challenges created by the creative economy and how to safeguard the mission of free expression in societies. Residencies, as new institutional structures in a global archipelago of different localities, could act as bridge-builders between the academic artist-education, art-fields, local communities and artists working in different cultures.


Working and living together, the pilot program aims to enable genuine collaboration that will inform modes of working in both countries beyond the one-month period of the residency. Bringing together large institutions, artist run groups and individuals, the program forms a varied working group and broad network within which to address debates and ideas surrounding the artist residency, art education and working conditions of recent graduates in fine art.

Besides their own projects the artists are working collaboratively interrogating the essence of an artist residency and its relationship to art education and role in art production in the context of Finland and the United Kingdom. As well as exploring what it means to be a newly graduated artist in each location, and the challenges and opportunities that face artists in the early stages of their often precarious working lives, the residency will culminate in an exhibition first in Helsinki in the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts/Kaiku-Gallery in September 2011 and in London early 2012. The residency provides an opportunity to hold talks, events and open studios. A digital platform For We Need Space & Time is provided for public discussion about art-education, residencies and young artists’ working conditions.

As a final outcome of the project the organizers wish to present a call for European Art Academies to join the residency program, a bridge between art-education and professional life for artists in the contemporary world.