Sutton House School of Anarchy Artist brief

Sutton House Queered launch event February 2017

The Sutton House Queered team is looking to appoint an artist to take the creative lead with our ‘School of Anarchy’ season, working with community groups to create an exciting in house family offer and experience for visitors over the summer holidays.

Sutton House Queered

Built in 1535 by Tudor Statesman Ralph Sadlier, Sutton House is the oldest domestic building in Hackney. Throughout its almost 500 year history, the house has been a boys’ school, a girls’ school, a church institute, offices, and a squat. The house is now owned by the National Trust, and has a strong focus on working with the local community.

Sutton House was the first National Trust property to celebrate LGBT History Month, and the first to introduce a gender neutral toilet. Sutton House Queered is a year- long programme that aims to question and disrupt, to challenge and celebrate. Much like Sutton House’s varied and colourful history, Queer is fluid and ever-changing, and presents a great opportunity for us to explore the National Trust’s 'Prejudice and Pride' theme, marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of sex between men.

School of Anarchy

In April 1985 a group of 8 squatters made Sutton House their home. They sent a letter to local residents which read:

'As you’ve probably noticed, something is happening at Sutton House- several of us have moved in and are hoping to convert it into a kind of community centre.'

They proposed opening the house to the public, running a café and arts and craft workshops for local community members. They renamed their new home ‘The Blue House’ and hosted rock concerts here.

This short but colourful era in Sutton House’s unusual history lasted less than a year, but has left its mark on how we run today, the community are at the heart of everything we do.

As well as decorating the house with vibrant graffiti art, some of which is retained today, the squatters wrote anti-fascist, anti-Thatcher and feminist political slogans on the doors of the rooms. Sutton House’s strong activist roots have inspired our Summer of Anarchy, which will explore LGBTQ activism.

Scope of creative lead artist role

The Sutton House Queered team is looking to appoint an artist to take the creative lead with our ‘School of Anarchy’ season, working with community groups to dress the house for an exciting and interactive experience for visitors to interact with during the summer holidays.

The artist will be required to:

  • Design and build an exciting family adventure and visitor experience in selected rooms of the house. The experience should broadly attract families and National Trust members, with an aim to attract approximately 800 paying visitors and 950 members over the six weeks. Some examples of potential themes to address might be:
    • LGBTQ activism and protests
    • QTIPOC (queer, trans and intersex people of colour) rights
    • Banners and flags
    • DIY culture in LGBTQ communities
    • Activist zines
  • Create a family activity throughout the house and self-led arts and crafts activities for families to engage with. The aim is to create a family day out that competes with other museums, galleries and London attractions.
  • Engage community groups and collaborate with them to co-create some aspects of the exhibit. Develop the following workshops:
    • 2 workshops for our over 55 year olds community group the Recycled Teenagers
    • 1 workshop open to members of the public
    • 1 workshop with our kids’ forum the Golden Spies
  • Be an advocate for the Sutton House Queered programme and the wider work of the National Trust
  • Contribute to the evaluation of the project
  • Liaise with the Sutton House Community Learning team throughout the design, making and delivery of the project

In addition the successful artist must have:

  • A flexible approach to working in a very active community focused historic house
  • The ability to work collaboratively throughout all aspects of the project
  • The ability to work around other programmes events and community groups using the house

Key dates

  • Appointment of artist: late May
  • Sutton House Queered team sign off proposals: mid June
  • Delivery of community aspect: Late June
  • Install of in-house experience: 3 – 7 July
  • Launch: 14 July
  • Review/ evaluation/ sharing: September

Performance Indicators

For all work to be completed on time, within the agreed budget and as detailed above in this specification.

Fee - £1,000

Design/events budget - £1,000 (receipts required)

Want to take part? How to submit your proposal:

Please submit a CV and covering letter outlining:

  • Your interest in this project
  • Your experience of working on similar projects (preferably heritage and/or LGBTQ related)
  • Evidence of successful delivering of project that attracted large numbers of visits/engagements

Please also submit:

  • A draft proposal for the in house dressing or decoration and the accompanying family activity (no more than 500 words)
  • Examples of previous work, including participation from community groups (links to websites will suffice)

Deadline for submitting proposals:

Proposals should be submitted to Sean Curran by 5pm on 3 May 2017.

Interviews and selection

Your proposal will be reviewed by the Sutton House Queered team and you may be invited for an informal interview. We may also ask for references. The successful candidate will be notified by the end of May. Proposed interview dates are 10 and 11 May.

Note: Sutton House is committed to celebrating marginalised voices and as such especially welcomes proposals from queer, trans and intersex people of colour.