Jarvis Towers by Sam Parr

The IDMA reaches out to independents and showcases their talents

This month the International Digital Media Academy continues their mission to support emerging Sheffield artists as they launch two new photography and art exhibitions in Sheffield venues.

The first exhibition, ‘Sport’ celebrates independent sporting culture at Eten Cafe, whilst the second at The Green Room is called ‘Home Made’ in recognition of Sheffield’s music heritage and culture.

Sheffield Unchained met with the International Digital Media Academy (IDMA) director Sue Whitehead to find out how the academy began and what it offers to independents in Sheffield.

Best by Steve Goodison

Best by Steve Goodison

The IDMA, which has been running for almost two years, began when Sue decided to use her experience of creativity and technology in the education industry to offer opportunities to local artists.

Sue, 47, worked for the Sheffield City Council as an education consultant amongst other roles for over twenty years and then spent two years as the director of an art gallery in Manchester. After putting on exhibitions and using photography in teaching and learning at the gallery, Sue decided to bring her skills in education together with her experience in the creative arts and IDMA was born.

“Whilst I was working for the gallery I realised that with all the contacts I have in teaching and learning and in the creative arts, I could start offering my expertise in Sheffield, as well as up and down the country. I knew a lot of photographers and artists who weren’t getting the opportunity for exposure. I also knew some well known artists who were getting the exposure, but could do with the opportunity to work with different people.”

In May 2013 the IDMA’s first photography and art exhibition was held in collaboration with Common People CIC at the new pop up shop on Division Street, Sheffield.

“I brought in Ian Tilton, an international artist and photographer, who was very interested in working with local artists. We then moved the exhibition to the Green Room and added more images and artists.”

Wet Nuns Last Queens by Duncan Stafford

Wet Nuns Last Queens by Duncan Stafford

Working with others

As well as supporting local artists through exhibitions, the IDMA has built up a database of independent artists and photographers with the aim of offering their skills to other businesses.

Sue said that she gets to know the artists and photographers through the exhibitions. She is then in a position to select the right artist or photographer to suit the style and needs of a particular business.

Drenge C Web by Duncan Stafford

Drenge C Web by Duncan Stafford

The IDMA also offers a series of short courses for the public, which are taught by their artists and photographers.

“These courses are very much a hands on, quick introduction to what people need to know for taking better photographs, making a film, animation or composing a piece of music.”

Sue said that the advantage of being independent is that the IDMA has the flexibility to work with whoever has the right skills and to work with them in a mutually beneficial way.

“It’s about looking at the skills needed and other people’s agendas and working in partnership with them, seeing what we need and seeing where they want to be.”

Sue explained how a recent artist, who took part in their first exhibition, was able to offer her skills as a curator in exchange for the work experience.

“Abigail Eastwood is a Fine Art student who wants to get into curating. So we asked her to lead our exhibition at The Bell Jar on London Road and I was on hand to support her if she needed it. She has done all the liaison work, created all the labels and has generally done a fabulous job.”

Set your mind free by Karen Smith

Set your mind free by Karen Smith

In order to keep their flexibility and maintain their mutually beneficial focus, the IDMA does not have its own centre or base.

“We don’t want to have a centre as we want to help other venues by holding our courses and exhibitions in their spaces. That way we can help to bring a different footfall to local businesses.

“It also means our exhibitions are often held in non-traditional spaces such as a bar or a café rather than a gallery. So people who wouldn’t normally go to an art exhibition are seeing and hopefully buying local art when they pop into town for a drink.”

Music expression by Karen Smith

Music expression by Karen Smith

Independents need to share

Sue believes that Sheffield’s independent scene could be more vibrant even though she admits that independents ‘are coming back’.

“The independent scene in Sheffield has a lot of potential, but I think it needs more encouragement. I believe that our authorities should be helping independents more and I think they do have the power to do that.

“They need to be thinking more in terms of what independents can do for the city and how they can help showcase the city more and actually support them. I think this is starting to happen in other areas, but Sheffield is a bit behind the times.

“There is a good independent culture in Bristol and Nottingham Council has some good independent aspects and positivity, which is not just lip service but is real within the authority; they can demonstrate it rather than just ticking the boxes.”

‘Sports’ a celebration of independent sporting culture at Eten Café and ‘Home Made” a celebration of Sheffield’s music culture at The Green Room will both run from 13 November 2013 until 31 March 2014.

Exhibitors include:

Chard Remains:

Don Valley by Chard Remains

Don Valley by Chard Remains

“My love for photography began when I started to follow local graffiti artists and photograph their work.

“Exploring derelict buildings to seek out more graffiti became a passion for me and my collection of photography grew. I am now mostly known for my Urbex photography; documenting buildings which have been left abandoned and unloved, decaying away from the eyes and thoughts of people who pass by on a daily basis.”

Steve Goodison:

Sabella by Steve Goodison

Sabella by Steve Goodison

Steve left college in 1990 with an A level in art and a B-tech national diploma in graphic design. After spending a couple of years working as a graphic designer, Steve now works full-time in the print industry.

Steve has always had a keen interest in art, especially drawing. Over the past few years Steve’s work has appeared in many venues in and around Sheffield.

Sam Parr:

DogO by Sam Parr

DogO by Sam Parr

Sam is an artist and illustrator living in Sheffield. Sam, in her 40’s, recently returned to art full-time after many years working in mainly non-creative fields.

Sam is largely self-taught, having only studied art at foundation level in the 80’s. Her work is grounded in traditional methods mixed with digital techniques. This self-taught approach makes her style refreshingly original and not easily pigeonholed.

As well as Mark Turner, Karen Smith, Duncan Stafford, Marek Payne and Paul Needham.

Wet NunsII by Marek Payne

Wet NunsII by Marek Payne

IDMA are always looking for independents with skills in photography, film, image manipulation, web, animation and digital sound to work as freelance tutors. Sue said artists do not need any teaching experience, just a passion for their creative profession. If you would like to work with the IDMA then get in touch with Sue at info@the-idma.com.