about the project ‘Rural Responses’ came forth from a cooperation of the Arts Council England and West Midlands. The aim of the initiative was to support the development of public art projects in rural areas. Artists were invited to hand in proposals for projects themselves, instead of being given directed assignments.
At the time ‘Rural Responses’ was being prepared, the impact of the foot and mouth outbreak was just beginning to be recognised. The selection of the artists’ proposals following the open call was being made even more careful – the proposals had to be engaged with the concerns and interests of rural communities in the West Midlands.
about artist and participants Eight artists had the possibility to work out their plans, resulting in four projects. Perhaps the most simple but also most effective project was the one by Alex Johnson and Nina Coulson (Yoke and Zoom): ‘Grit & Determination’.
Yoke and Zoom placed pairs of containers at six locations throughout the county, from Bromsgrove to Worcester. One of the containers had the standard inscription ‘GRIT’ on it, the other, in similar letters, ‘DETERMINATION’. On the website www.gritart.com (not active anymore) the location of all the bins was provided, with photographs and directions in the form of a countryside tour. Via leaflets and notices in newsletters additional information was given. The public was asked for feedback. The project aimed to draw attention to the realities of rural life in a humorous way, whilst providing a useful function as grit dispensers. And it worked. A visitor remarked: “Such intelligent and humorous use of familiar objects as subjects is a valuable way of communicating ideas.”
organisations Worcestershire County Council, Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills and Wyre Forest District Councils, Redditch Borough Council