Writtle News

Graduate works with Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry

August 2017

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A Writtle University College graduate is working on a major fundraising campaign for Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) - supported by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry.

Ellis Martin, who graduated in 2014 with a BA (Hons) Contemporary Art and Design, has coordinated a fundraising campaign called Phoenix Rising following the 2015 fire that destroyed the 124-year-old Grand Hall at the back of the Grade II* listed old town hall building that BAC calls home. It raises funds for the loss of income from the two-year closure of the Centre's biggest space.

Ellis, 24, from Benfleet, said: “The campaign has two parts to it, a community-based fundraiser and a high-profile auction. Grayson Perry had a studio in the basement of BAC in the 1980s. We contacted him to help us raise funds and he created and donated this crazy, perfectly-fitting sculpture made from glazed ceramic. In October, we will be hosting a major auction at BAC with Christie's Auction House.

“I've been contacting hundreds of BAC alumni and friends asking for donations. We will have up for auction an acting workshop with our patron, actor Toby Jones; an eighth edition silver gelatin print from Mona Hatoum; and an archived jacket donated by Vivienne Westwood, who has also given a signed and annotated copy of her diary. People will be able to bid on tours and dinners with the artistic directors of the National Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe and the Young Vic, and we also have donations from sculptors Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.”

Ellis budget-manages the project and works with development and communications teams to promote it. She's been working on an exhibition space in one of the many rooms at the front of BAC that were unaffected by the fire. In this exhibition space members of the public make a donation and purchase a piece or chunk of the charred timbers that held up the Grand Hall for over a hundred years.

Essex artist Grayson Perry allowed BAC to merchandise a slogan from his sculpture and Ellis, who also works as an assistant to the artistic director, has designed the badges, stickers and tote bags for people to purchase.

She said: “Writtle helped me in so many ways. Unlike many University Colleges, Writtle is involved in students' End of Year Exhibitions and the experience of turning our working space into an effective exhibition space was invaluable when I came to curating the fundraising campaign.

“The tutors at Writtle were so inspiring and mentored me, encouraging me to really immerse myself in my own work and find solutions to the artistic setbacks I encountered. I loved my time at Writtle and it influenced me to do what I love.”

• Find out more about the campaign at www.bac.org.uk/phoenixrising