For part 8 of Toadball.TV (ne Agrifashionista) Birmingham based Juneau/Projects in colaboration with pupils from Virginia Primary School filmed a Krypton Factor meets Rock Band game show called The Royal Race for Nature.


Cripes a lordy if you haven't been to GSK yet or can't be bothered you can get it all here:



i like the theme of your site
I want to see this movie pretty soon check out the trailer

Why would you want anyone to pretend otherwise? ,

The Urbania Films document the practice and perspective of the members of the Urbania Collective, in the run up to their Soup Night at the Royal Academy on the 8th of January 2009, and documents their residency at Grizedale Arts Park-a-Moor 'Thinking Space For The North' in 2008.

Watch them here


Village Produce Films
Village Produce Films

Exploring the stories behind comunity produced goods, alternative channels of distribution and the value of goods we have now added the Village Produce Films produced by and public works to the growing body of work that was Agrifashionista.TV and is now ToadBall.TV

These films are part of an ongoing project, which has crossed over with Somewhere, Grizedale Arts and Nomad as they start create a network of Village Kiosks selling local produce, a network that anyone can join and evolve over time.

View the village produce films


On Thursday 13 November I shall be travelling down to London with a bounty of local produce for the toadball village shop, such as these fine hams made from the Tamworth pigs as seen in the Agrifashionista posters. Other Grizedale products include Anti-Ruskinian baseball caps, Peter Hodgson cups (as collected by Peter Greenaway, Jurgen Teller and Maria Benjamin) and wooden animals by Peter Inman (as colleceted by Giles Deacon). Get it now while stocks last....

The view of the GSK factory in Ulverston seen from my bedroom window
The view of the GSK factory in Ulverston seen from my bedroom window

Back up in Grizedale after a fraught week of negotiations to make some sense of the GSK Contemporary shenanegins and sure enough the critics start to pull apart the show. Ben Street’s review for Art Review  centres on the disparity between the financial might of GlaxoSmithKline and the critical framework for the GSK season and quite rightly so. But what is missing from this picture is the complex push and pull that goes on between host institution and the ‘curated’ invitees, how these shows are far messier than one would be allowed to imagine.


Our original proposal to the RA was how Toadball should be; a live artist run TV studio that produces an ongoing programme of material that critiques the host institution and the concurrent exhibits. And what rich material that is: the RA as Britain’s oldest art collective, corporate sponsorship, Middle England’s expectations, culture powerplay, the advance programme for the looming Haunch of Venison art showroom and how all this relates to our dear local culture of British Romanticism, etc etc.


But as it happens, as it often happens, the plan got squeezed and the budget got reduced to absolute zero for us whilst other bigger name exhibitors got the hot drug money.


The idea that a show like this is curated is up for debate, as it is inevitably prone to so many divergent forces. I had one discussion last week with a significant curator of a significant galley working on a significant show who found that just when they thought they had managed to eject a dodgy overblown work from the selection on cost grounds, the artist’s gallery had weighed in to stump up the deficit. No one gets round to saying says that’s shit and we’re not putting it in; not because no-ones got the balls but because no one knows who to say it to. The days of pure curation and pure criticism are over for this particular era and there has to be an element of contingency in any project. For my part I quite aspects of this messy situation in that it’s more like how the world works and leads to more complex and nuanced work that is ultimately more effective in the wider world when art has to work for its living. Grizedale’s ‘coalface’ work is with communities and political situations that won’t stand for rigid viewpoints.


In this particular case, it came down (see below) to whether we should do it or not given that we were expected to do something great (you know how art people say that word) with no money at all (although I did manage to get a contribution to travelling down and our IT programmer at the eleventh hour). Our Might Atom project manager will I am sure testify that you get dragged along by these things whilst there are so many hooks in you (see Hellraiser).


The Convenience Store Project
The Convenience Store Project

The fifth episode on Agrifashionista has just launched, William Pope L.'s take on Convenience Store culture in modern society, at times bemusing but generally thought provoking.

The Convenience Store Project by William Pope L., 2008

Michael Smythe's Tower of Babel
Michael Smythe's Tower of Babel


Agrifashionista has moved to the Royal Academy of Arts in London. How you move a website and a process to a gallery is up for grabs, but somehow this is what we have to do, or have come to have to do. I’ll be honest it’s a bit of conceptual mess now and we are having second thoughts. We’ve renamed it Toadball in honour of this fact.

The all action Agrifashionista version of the project that was a week of live studio production at Club Row in Shoreditch never came to bear fruit, as the hosts A Foundation imploded two weeks before went live. The net result is that we have a website of our commissioned artist films, but without the live hook to the reality of production and meaning. No critique, no pulling apart the art world myth, no debate, no new dawn and possible future use for art. For now at least. That comes after this project when the new farm is finished (see

It’s recurringly apparent that the art world (more so than the rest of the world) doesn’t like mess, complication, real critique and self analysis. It likes the show, the party the big pile of stuff, but when you start saying something like you mean it they run a mile.

I arrive at the RA late on Monday and Michael, our Mighty Atom project manager, has for the last four days at least, been dismantling a medical library and reassembling it, in a big, Tower of Babel pile in our allotted room. The installation looks super dramatic, sort of Harry Potter goes John Ruskin, and supra-curator David Thorp everyone at the RA loves it. I can see why; it looks great. But from a Grizedale point of view this is disconcerting, as we just don’t do installation like that. Michael once again has put in a superhuman effort in our absence and I painfully have to come round to taking it apart and starting again.

The point is it’s not really what it looks like; it’s what it’s doing. Often this is a disappointment to many in art land, but a deeply held belief in this organisation; that art should become useful in one way or another. There’s no way we can do this in the RA without the live, full blooded discussion, TV spectacular (an audience with Joanthan Meese anyone?) and, indeed, no budget. The best we can do is point to what we are talking about, point to the website, to our farm HQ, our other projects and hope to get them to follow.

As such the exhibition becomes a trailer or an advert to the thinking and process that lies beyond. Grizedale has become so much about the coal face application of creation it’s always going to be hard ‘to do gallery’, but it’s an important part of the equation – we don’t want to give up on art, we just want to make it better.


1 Comment

Well that does look kinda cool, like the end scene from Minority Report where the turbo geeks are left with their books in the middle of retro nowhere - turning their hunched backs on techno wizardry. However as you say pick the bones out of that, as in what does it mean, Tatlin's tower, ET, always popular art references though generally best avoided. Books as outmoded, reduced to pub decorations, although as a pile the inference is that they have been read, maybe the computers suggest the material is being digitized. Generally not clear, but that sadly is ok in contemporary art, all we generally need from an exhibition is for people to walk into the room and go 'yeh nice' and move to the next room. The problem is that if the new configuration only offers engagement with the long and complicated web site and artist films alongside a glimpse of the intention of the project we are probably asking to much of a gallery audience (I know I dont have the time to sit down in a gallery and spend time trying to absorb ideas - that would be an archaic notion) - so I guess a signpost is the best we can hope for, so just stick up a sign post.