doc

A GROUP of Southampton artists has been awarded more than £50,000 to create work in one of Southampton’s historic buildings.

‘God’s House Tower – a reincarnation’ is an artists' residency which will kick-start a contemporary arts programme in the 13th century gatehouse on Town Quay Road.

Funded by Arts Council England, Southampton Solent University and A Space arts, GHT will enable eight Southampton-based artists to make new work inspired by the grade II-listed ancient monument.

Artists Jo Willoughby, Greg Gilbert, Libby Russell, Deborah Gearing, Kirsty Smith, Jilly Evans and Celeste Ingram will create works using various media including drama, video, and drawing – with a focus on public engagement.

Led by Sarah Filmer, whose 2013 ‘Blue Jumper’ project got 12,000 people knitting together, the programme will start with a parade of 700 women through the tower in a symbolic feminisation of the historic building.

Sarah said: “We want to embed women in the building and because it’s going to be an arts and heritage building we want to go forwards in a gender balanced way, especially as the history of the building has been very male dominated.

“The money we have been granted will go predominantly towards artists’ wages.

"We will be working together and making work as the building changes.

"We want to pay artists to be artists – a lot of the artists in Southampton work at other jobs as well and are never really paid properly.”

She added: “I am delighted.

"The possibilities opened are incredibly exciting – I feel privileged to be able to financially support a group of exciting and ambitious artists within a cultural landscape that perhaps needs a little reminding about the creative community on its doorstep.”

The project will run for 18 months, alongside the construction schedule for God’s House Tower, which has been earmarked for opening in 2017 and will incorporate artist-run workshops, a residency period, new artwork, exhibitions and public events – with a focus on public engagement.

In its previous incarnations God’s House Tower was one of the gatehouses into Southampton, a refuge for poor travellers, home to the town gunners, a ‘house of correction’ and the town gaol until the late 1800s.

In 1960 it was converted into the Museum of Archaeology but closed in 2011 when SeaCity opened.

A Space arts company has been renovating it since 2013.