Interview with Banner Repeater’s Ami Clarke (Founder/Director)

Published Mar, 2015

Banner Repeater. Image courtesy of the gallery.

How has Banner Repeater become established?

Banner Repeater is in its fifth year, and over this period of time has established itself as a leading artist-led space with an exciting experimental programme of art. Commissioning new works from both emerging artists as well as more established artists, accompanied by a programme of talks and seminars, as well as hosting book clubs, and an Artists’ Publishing Archive, we are committed to providing a lively forum for critical debate. The space is open to the public six days a week whether art lovers or general commuters alike.

Banner Repeater has gone from strength to strength, with new international projects at Del Chopo Museum, Mexico City and a British Council connect_ZA Johannesburg project, as well as being acclaimed by Hans Ulrich Obrist as his favourite contemporary art space in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, 2014.

On a more local scale the recent collaboration: Activating the Archive with Hackney Archives has just come to a close with over 70 Artists’ publishing contributions from an open call-out across the borough with the aim of introducing Artists’ books into both the permanent archive at Hackney Archives, and to the local network of Hackney Libraries.

The project was in tandem with an ongoing initiative to Activate the Digital Archive that continues our digitising the Public Archive of Artists’ Publishing at Banner Repeater started in 2010, with a newly designed online platform, working with some leading experts in the field of artists’ publishing as well as web design.

We continue to commission new works for Un-Publish, an ongoing critical serial journal printed on paper and distributed for free from the station platform, straight into the mainstream of the city of London.

We believe that artist-led spaces play an essential role in the vitality and economy of the art world, offering alternative opportunities for emerging and established artists alike, to make work that might struggle to appear elsewhere, whilst achieving excellence on an international scale (two exhibitions received high acclaim in national and international art press, 2014).

How has the art scene changed since Banner Repeater first opened?

Banner Repeater was very fortunate to receive local government funding from the Empty Shop Fund Arts in Empty spaces scheme run by Hackney Council. This would be unthinkable now. We face great challenges with respect to the impact of the austerity cuts on the arts, whilst there is considerable evidence to support the economic strengths of our cultural productions in the UK, GVA (Gross Value Added) of the creative industries was £71.4 billion in 2012 and accounted for 5.2% of the UK economy, which is worth thinking about when the axe swings again — all the evidence suggests that greater investment in the arts would pay dividends in both economic and cultural terms.

What other galleries would you recommend?

Project Number, Lima Zulu, Electra, ANDOR, Tenderbooks, Cell project space, SPACE, LUX, Arcadia Missa, South London Gallery, David Roberts Foundation, Chisenhale, Jupiter Woods, Sunday Painter, Five Years, Book Works, Akerman/Daly, Matts Gallery, Supplement, Camden Arts, Raven Row, Waterside project space, MOT and lots more that I can’t think of right now.

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