Close Proximity

Close Proximity, Friday 20 – Saturday 21 May 2005. New Greenham Park, Newbury

Close Proximity is free. It is at New Greenham Arts, in the old Greenham Common airbase, near Newbury, Berkshire.

Talkaoke will be on the Friday Night, either in doors, or preferably outdoors. It depends on the whim of the weather gods.

A two day gathering for activities and discussions that will look at the changing identity of areas that lie under the shadow of the ever bulging “commuter belt” around London.

Greenham Common is surprisingly pleasant as a place, an oasis in the Home Counties, but full of malevolent history.Three miles east of Newbury, sixty miles west of Shoreditch and just off the M4 (junction 13), New Greenham Park is a collection of light industrial businesses set in a 1000 acres of ancient heathland, a civil war battle site preserved from the ravages of suburban decay by the United States Air Force.

There will be a series of talking sessions, eating, walks, visits to the en suite decontamination chamber, the silos and a few of the light industrial businesses that are now on the base (regeneration). It will be informal. Why not camp overnight? There will be a campfire etc in the evening.

Organised for NAN by Helen Sloan (SCAN) and artist/curator Jonathan Swain.

Close Proximity seminars and displays will take place in and around the old officer recreation center, now the privately funded New Greenham Arts. NGA plays host to touring theatre companies, a gallery, several artist.s workshops and open studio events.

Discussion topics will question whether anything of any cultural significance can survive the Ballardian wipe down sprawl that has infected the South East of England? How are artists responding as a consequence? Have other forms of networks sprung up; survival strategies, pockets of resistance, gang culture, out of town developments? Are these satisfactory? How is it affecting other creative industries? Are localised galleries, studio complex.s, and art centres really an option, or just good places to go for coffee. Will we always be taken in by the tingle of fame and fortune offered by the Big City or is it an age and babies thing? What lessons can be learned from previous networking structures?

Guided tours will take in bird-watching on the common, GPS tracking devices, cold war decontamination chambers, ex- nuclear silos, an industrial fabrication unit and, hopefully, a council cleansing depot.

Close Proximity is free to attend but booking is essential, before May13th, contact Accommodation is not provided but, in recognition of the historical significance of the site, we have got permission to camp in the business park. For the less hardy there are several other places to stay in the area. A tandoori restaurant is next to the arts centre. Good car parking facilities are available.

More details of the programme and the speakers will be in the May issue of a-n magazine, or on the SCAN website,

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