Conway Hall Residency

Current project Featured 2019

A new annual research residency from Artquest in partnership with Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives. The artist selected for the 2019 Conway Hall Residency is Sophia Kosmaoglou

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About the selected artist

Sophia Kosmaoglou employs a broad range of practices to address the construction of identity in relationships and to subvert conventions, authority and rationalism in performative representations. Her current practice engages with pedagogy and collectivity, blurring the boundaries between art, education and activism to question the ontology of art, its social functions and institutional contexts and to promote and experiment with independent, collective or cooperative alternative economies.

Sophia Kosmaoglou is an artist, tutor, curator, researcher and activist. She has a practice-based PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths and her research interests include alternative art education, radical pedagogy, self-organisation, collectivity, autonomy, institutions and the relationship between art and politics. In 2015 she founded ART&CRITIQUE, a peer-led alternative art education network based in London and in 2019 she co-founded the Radical Pedagogy Research Group, a research project on alternative art education, radical pedagogy and self-organisation.

During her residency at the Conway Hall Humanist Library Sophia will expand her research on co-operatives, self-organisation and alternative art education and crowdsource a strategy to set up a co-operative art school. Her research will focus on collective, commons-based economies and non-hierarchical social models, for more independence and self-determination through sustainable and ethical working conditions, alleviating anxiety, fostering collaboration and solidarity and providing access to shared resources and training. She will also develop her research in alternative art education, which challenges mainstream institutional and educational models with respect to authorship, responsibility, labour relations and the art economy more broadly. Sophia will organise discussions and workshops on co-operatives in the arts, conduct interviews and document and disseminate the research in pamphlets, zines and a blog.

Key Dates

  • Residency period: October 2019 – December 2019
  • Closing event: Spring 2020

The Award

The selected artist will receives:

  • An award of £3000 to engage with the collections of the Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives
  • An additional award for a public facing event showcasing the thinking and research undertaken during the residency
  • Privileged access to the Library’s staff and archives

This is an opportunity for a London based artist, working in any medium, with at least 5 years’ experience working outside of education, to develop their practice responding to the collections of the Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives.

Artquest particularly welcomes application from artists whose proposals explore or relate to our annual theme of Work.

Please note, this is not a studio residency and applicants are expected to have their own studio / workspace to complete any work.

About Conway Hall Library and Archives

Conway Hall is the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, with a history tracing back to 1787. The building was created in 1929 as a home for the Ethical Society by architect Frederick Herbert Mansford and since then has welcomed the likes of H.G. Wells, Dora and Bertrand Russell, Fenner Brockway and Mary Stocks and, more recently, key humanist and progressive figures such as A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Samira Ahmed and Brian Cox. Today Conway Hall promotes the principles of secular humanism through an arts programme, educational courses, exhibitions and talks.

Since 1886, the Library has been a haven for radicals, political and social reformers and freethinkers who dared to dream of a better world. Conway Hall Library & Archives document the past and present of humanism and the heritage of the Ethical Society and the National Secular Society. Conway Hall Library is the only specialist humanist library in the UK. The collections include modern and rare books, pamphlets, journals, archival materials, digital collections and artworks.

You can read more about the Conway Hall Library and Archives and research the collections online here.

Collections highlights include:

  • Busts and portraits of key progressive figures including Thomas Paine, Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant, George Jacob Holyoake and Bertrand Russell
  • The archive of the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts – the longest-running chamber music programme in Europe, established in 1878 with the aim of democratising access to music performance
  • Original building plans for Conway Hall
  • Correspondence including letters from William Morris, George Bernard Shaw and Peter Kropotkin to the Ethical Society
  • Radical political and social reform pamphlets from the nineteenth century to the present
  • The writing desk of Richard Carlile, campaigner for the freedom of the press

Residency Conditions

The awarded artist will be expected to:

  • Visit the library and engage with the collections at least one day a week over the research period (October – December 2019)
  • Participate in three interviews over the residency period which will be recorded and hosted on Artquest and partner websites.
  • Produce online content (articles, video, interviews, blog etc) about their experiences on the residency (details to be decided in discussion with Artquest)
  • Work with Artquest and Conway Hall to organise a closing event to showcase their thinking, research and work over the period of the residency

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for this residency you must be

  • A London based visual artist working in any medium
  • Have been practicing as an artist outside of university study for at least 5 years
  • Not be currently studying on a BA, MA, PhD course or similar at the time of application, or beginning such study over the residency period

Eligibility criteria is fixed for this residency: please only apply if you meet the above criteria. For more detailed information on eligibility criteria and other frequently asked questions read our FAQs page.