Primarily: It’s About Colour: light And Growing: More Than 57 Varieties of Life

Featured Images: Primary: Artist and Community Development partnership 33 Seely Road Nottingham NG7 1NU

Primary is an artist led gallery and community project capacity building space on Seely Road, Radford across the road from Ronald Street playground that Primary is helping develop with local residents and the council.

A former primary school and then temporarily a ballet school, it was set up by Nottingham Studios Ltd, in 2011, a not-for-profit organisation established as a registered charity (in 2009) with planning and support from Nottingham City Council, Arts Council England and Foyle Foundation. There are so many people who have built the history and value of art in Nottingham: every one deserves massive credit.

Since then Primary has been on a massive historical dig, plant and cultivation into the way art, artists, culture, history and neighbourhood in Nottingham have always intertwined: producing new products, services, opportunities (artists books, bakery, garden, talks, discussionsexhibitions, performances, research, archives).  Primary has  always been a welcoming space, a catalyst in distributing knowledge, support, participation, creating a momentum through the work of artists, bespoke businesses, events, collectivities, support from the local universities, galleries (New Art Exchange and Nottingham Contemporary), artists and curators across regions (particularly Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol).

In 2020 the trustees were able to purchase the building and are now in June/July 2022 in the process of refurbishing the very hard working building for more development. Pop in in August and see: garden growing, bakery cooking, art always evolving, workshops, opportunities, new ways of seeing, doing, thinking….

When we think about what the social eating projects in Nottingham City developed out of the work of individuals with a vision working with an aesthetic in mind: for example, you can connect the vision of Dr Marsha Smith to make social eating possible for more people, more of the time with the way Primary engages with this in Nourishment, a programme that brings all the tools, insights, experience of the artist led visual arts organisation to social injustice, inequalities around how food is grown, manufactured, distributed. Even in the stony, tough, hostile, unequal, institutional and resource poor environment of social exclusions, the work of Primary, New Art Exchange and Nottingham Contemporary to build education in Nottingham as a civic exchange building on neighbourhoods has been transformational.

I think that Marsha,  micro groups, micro businesses and SMEs have been nourished by the imagination, ideas, partnerships and collaborations that have come through the way the arts locally have encouraged conversation everywhere with everyone. You can feel the compost being prepared for regeneration: new kinds of work, businesses education, training and skills in Nottingham around when, how, where and what we eat. It’s something that endures as an ideal over time, space, geographies, supply chains: through deepening our friendships, relationships, opportunities for new ways things can work: we all agree that social eating is a catalyst for so much else that is positive, constructive and humane.

In Primary they’ve been growing projects with Here, There and Everywhere a collaborative programme led by New Art Exchange with Delfina Foundation, Eastside Projects, QUAD/FORMAT, MAC and The Tetley, and funded by Ambition for Excellence (Arts Council England) Ejaradini (gardening soundcloud talks between South Africa and the UK The Gardens of Others made by Molemo Moiloa and Nare Mokgotho of Made You Look artists collaborative based in South Africa)  and Landedness that create the real and metaphorical compost that gets the garden growing and encourages collaboration, experimentation and social change.

In the last three years particularly we’ve begun to realise that we’re all diminished by a narrow view of what’s possible in Nottinghamshire.

Primary has given agency to citizen researchers, activists, art has welcomed in the people in local neighbourhoods who uncover links, heritage, contributions across time, geography and space that local people value.

These increasing understanding, alliances, friendships and projects have changed the way we think, work and live in Nottingham. The value of Primary to our city through its knowledge base, networks and archives has sky rocketed now and not surprisingly the collective bought the building in 2020 to secure its future. So although there are exhibitions, activities continuing as normal it’s also a massive time of refurbishment and development that Primary hope to be complete by the beginning of August.

Home to award winning Small Food Bakery,  Neighbourfood (a platform connecting local producers to local people), Forth (the gallery space run by NTU graduates), TG Gallery currently exhibiting the work of Leila Al Yousef who uses watercolour to explore the mystery and fragmented sense of self she felt during the last couple of years, Lane Textiles, interiorsa Clay workshop studio Beam Editions gallery, documentary work on artists, cafe and book store, Inside The Studio talks between artists and curators.  

You’re always welcome. The dreamers inside and on the periphery of the organisation have always been intrinsic to its value: the metaphorical and artistic gardeners have made our understanding of what’s important to be solid and what melts into air. It’s an idea, a dream and a practice: future work and play today, for more people, more of the time. Over the last ten years the collectivities that live and grow there have begun to make us feel that we’re contributors, we’re creative, we’re strong.

Primary launched ‘Grow Me A Colour’ in 2018 where they can watch and develop the evolution of plants and flowers into pigments. This is fantastic. I keep flowers, pick lavender all the time and had so many petals that I decided to make my own pigments.

Using good old You Tube I learnt to boil the flower petals down. I had lots of petals, flowers I’d picked, flowers from gifts, petals from walks.  Being busy I left them in the glasses, jars and one in a goblet for weeks.

And this is what happened: the liquid must have bubbled and then crystallised on the glasses and jars I used…just wow! Life is amazing.