I'm a Hackspace Trustee

Nottingham currently plays host to the largest Hackspace in the UK (2019). I feel lucky to be involved in such an amazing space and community and currently half way through a 2 year term as Trustee, I think it’s time to share my experiences on this journey so far.

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What is Hackspace?

Hackspace is what YOU make it. A non-profit, community run project, it’s a place to unleash your creativity. Being excellent to each other and respecting the Hackspace are the foremost keys to success. Built entirely from donations, members have interests ranging from screen printing to technology, woodwork to weaving, soap making to electronics and Hackspace has the tools and community to make anything creatively possible. Working together on projects, anything can be achieved. If you have a skill to share, run a workshop. If you need guidance with a tool, ask a more experienced member for help.

From humble beginnings (Nottingham Hackspace was born in 2010, starting life as a website with a few core members meeting in a local pub), Nottinghack has snowballed in size over the years. It’s now housed over two floors with a growing membership of over 650.

To find out more, you can attend an open evening any Wednesday from 6.30pm. You’ll get to nosey at the space and the tools and ask the membership team any questions you might have with regard to joining up and taking part. You can also visit the website at nottinghack.org.uk.

My Hackspace Journey

I joined Nottingham Hackspace in October 2017. I had toured the space back in 2012 but it took a while to engage my brain and make the leap to becoming a fully-fledged member. Reflecting back over the year I realised the importance of the space to my practice over this short period and felt compelled to offer my time back to the community, in April 2018 the calling came for trustee nominations and I was lucky enough to be voted in.

As an ex-trustee once duly noted, being a Hackspace trustee “isn’t all cocaine and hookers”. It’s a challenging position. It takes consistency, being on hand and available to answer queries and concerns raised by members and the wider community. It takes guts. With such an influx of membership, strategies suited to a smaller community may need adapting, but not everyone likes change. EVERY member is a volunteer, but when things go wrong or are strained, it is often (read usually) the trustees who must defend or amend decisions made past, present or future. It takes objectivity. Remaining openminded and impartial when handling complaints concerning members you regard as friends can be tough.

Yet these challenges should be seen as opportunities to which there are compelling rewards. Helping to champion good ideas and lead a diverse creative community ever forward, seeing new projects and strategies take positive affect creates an amazing sense of achievement and self-confidence. The opportunity to engage constructively with others, making new friends, associates and contacts can enrich all aspects of life, including that outside of Hackspace (yes there is a wider community out there, when I look up from my latest laser cutting project).  It’s a chance to develop and grow skills in communication, negotiation, problem solving and decision making whilst remaining true to the spirit of Hackspace, to grow together as a creative community.  It’s recommended, but not for the faint hearted.

The nomination window for 2019 trustees runs from 26 April – 16 May.  To nominate or for more information, please contact the Hackspace trustees at trustees@nottinghack.org.uk. We need at least 5 members to stand for voting to take place from 25 May - 31 May.

Introducing FEMTECH Nottingham

I am excited to introduce a new collective I am very proud to be a part of - Femtech Nottingham. We are a group of female art technicians, artists and curators carving the way for gender balanced tech teams across Midlands galleries.

Femtech Nottingham

Always keen to get hands on and practical, over the years I have worked on numerous painting, woodwork and small building projects. Towards the end of last year this experience culminated in both the realization that these valuable skills fit perfectly into the art world realm of exhibition installation and also my involvement in gallery technician work for the Backlit 10 year anniversary exhibition ‘Same As It Never Was’. As one thing inevitably leads to another, earlier this year I was invited to the first Nottingham gathering of female art technicians under the guise of Femtech.

 Just under 18% of our art technical users of ArtTechSpace.com are women. Through our Instagram account, we can see that 42% of our followers are women and 58% are men. Women are a minority in the male-dominated art technical industry…

Femtech is the brainchild of Effy Harle.

Herself a self-employed gallery technician, last year Effy received funding to research into the lack of female technicians in UK galleries and to ultimately “expose alternative ways of production where women are fundamental members of the team, and not just token females in the band of builders”. Femtech aims to build on these initial findings in a practical way, bringing together Midlands based females involved in exhibition production to gain insight, share experiences and collectively build on art tech skills.

After some initial planning sessions, we have worked together to outline plans for a series of workshops aimed at building confidence in gallery installation skills from basic to advanced, including essentials such as wall building and framing, through to our ‘techie wish list’ of welding, electronics and casting techniques.

Through my involvement as a trustee at Nottingham Hackspace, I was excited to be able to host and help provide facilities and tools for our first workshop ‘Plinth Making 101’. Thanks also go out to Hackspace, New Art Exchange, Ging Illustrator and Alex Pain for their help with equipment and materials for this workshop. A fun and engaging skill building session, we worked in teams to build plinths using industry standard tools and a healthy dose of grrrl power to make the session a great success.

Next up, wall building – watch this space!

If you’d like to get involved with the Femtech group or future workshops, Effy can be contacted at frharle@gmail.com . You can also follow along with our adventures on our Instagram account.

Zine : Blue City

I’ve written and published my first zine - a love story set in a far away but not so distant place.

Blue City : A zine by Almo
Give and Take - a Studio Almo Installation Piece | Photo courtesy of Left Lion

Give and Take - a Studio Almo Installation Piece | Photo courtesy of Left Lion

Blue City premiered at the Backlit 10th Anniversary exhibition ‘Same As It Never Was’ with my Portland inspired ‘Give and Take’ installation, whereby the zine could be exchanged for typed notes, thoughts or words. If you’d like to swap your words for a copy, I am still accepting handwritten or analogue typewriter printed notes.

Get in touch and I can send you my address for swapsies.

I even managed a mention and photo on the Left Lion website.