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OUT OF THE BOX; Celebrating 10 years of Contains Art

east quay celebrates 10 years

The story of how Contains Art moved from 3 shipping containers, to now running the cultural programming at East Quay is one to be celebrated.

On the 6th July 2013, Contains Art opened its doors on the quayside in Watchet. It was situated in three repurposed shipping containers, which had been craned onto the quay following a successful run as a makeshift performance space for Theatre Melange. Over the following decade they played host to hundreds of events, hosted thousands of visitors, provided studio space for local artists, and became a central point of activity, connection and creativity for the artist and wider community of Watchet and

West Somerset. The grounded cultural work that took place in and around the containers laid the foundation for what was eventually to become East Quay. Two of the three original containers remain in situ in the central courtyard, still operating as artist studios within the wider development.

Over the last decade, Contains Art offered space and funding to many wonderful exhibitions. Some of the most special were those which brought together all the brilliance and diversity of artists working and practising in and around West Somerset. To celebrate a decade of container-based culture therefore,

Contains Art invited artists living or working in West Somerset and the surrounding area, along with those who had previously exhibited in Watchet, to be part of a group exhibition that combines containers with creativity. Over 50 artists have met the challenge presented: to re-purpose a scale-model of a shipping container as an artwork. Curated by Andy Davey, the resultant exhibition showcases the talent of West Somerset’s artists and the eclecticism of their practice, methods, ideas and creativity.

Ten years on, Contains Art continues to operate as a successful cultural organisation, now a registered charity (charity number 1193931). It runs the cultural programme in the new galleries at East Quay, commissioning exhibitions – including the exhibitions held in this project space, studio 10, supporting educational work, providing bursaries to artists and initiating cultural community projects. In 2022, Contains Art was granted National Portfolio Organisation status in recognition of the importance of its work and all that has been and will continue to be achieved – testament to what can be achieved by togetherness, fun and imagination.

Contains Art Chair, Jess Prendergrast says:

“The organisation was founded on the belief that who you are, where you live and what you have should not be a barrier to cultural engagement and creative opportunity. It has also always been about coming together. The original containers were refurbished by a volunteer workforce from the artist community and its programme has been delivered in collaboration with many hundreds of volunteers over the years.

We are grateful to each and every person who has been part of this extraordinary journey and cannot wait to see what the next decade will bring.”

To celebrate this decade of culture and creativity in Watchet, artists have been invited to reflect on what 10 years of Contains Art means to them. They have been invited to build their own to-scale replica models of the original containers, exhibited in Studio 10 at East Quay. The exhibition is open 7 days a week 10am – 6pm it runs from 1.07.23 – 30.07.23.

Out of the Box[79]
Image by Joseph Horton
Out of the Box[79]2
Image by Onion Collective

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