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AICA UK Nottingham day trip – report by Sacha Craddock

On 24 July, a number of us met at St Pancras in order to travel to Nottingham .
The structure of the day had been devised by the Nottingham Arts Writers Group, made up of writers, academics, artists and curators in and around the city of Nottingham, and supported by Primary, Nottingham Contemporary, New Art Exchange and BACKLIT, the main contemporary visual arts venues across the city.
The day was very much an initiative of the city and we were very happy to be guests.
When we arrived we walked straight to Nottingham Contemporary to be met by a friendly group including Sam Thorne, the Director who, after coffee, took us for a tour of the two exhibitions at the gallery.
After a good time there we walked through the centre of the city to BACKLIT gallery where we were met by Director Matthew Chesney and introduced again to Suzanne Golden, the Deputy Director.
After a delicious lunch, excellent informal discussion, and a stimulating walk through the studios and the current exhibition, which included work by the excellent group Slavs and Tartars, we settled down with a large number of the Nottingham artistic community, including representatives from all the galleries, to a sensible and instructive, and inclusive discussion about the possibility, availability, point of critical writing in the city and surrounding area.
We were thrilled by the strong turn out of writers, academics, artists and were amazed that the Sheriff of Nottingham, also a writer, was able to contribute with her own accounts of the value, reach, and importance of art writing.
The discussion was chaired by Rose Davison, Amelia Roberts, the two writers in residence at BACKLIT, and me.
Wayne Burroughs and a good many others contributed with impassioned points.
We really hope to be able to repeat such an excellent and instructive formula in other cities.