Simon Spain is a strong believer in the transformative power of art. His personal work reflects his own story and his work with the community, particularly his 30 years work running engaging arts programming for children and families, demonstrates his commitment to providing an opportunity for everyone to be affected by the power of art. Simon trained as a printmaker in the UK and in a journey that has taken him to work in around the world as an artist and presenter he settled in Australia just over twelve years ago. Simon established ArtPlay, an arts Centre for children and families in the heart of Melbourne, and is considered one of Australia’s experts in arts for children and families. Simon shows his work regularly and is fascinated with the challenge of bringing new and traditional technologies together to make art.
Most recently Simon has moved to establish a new project with his wife just outside Hobart in Tasmania. This new project , ALL THAT WE ARE, expresses in four simple words that life is not easily compartmentalised. It is a response to a world that often reduces our human complexity to jargon-laden slogans. It connects 60+ years of experience in the arts, education and community driven projects. The project includes a venue for retreats, creative practice and consultancy.
Simon has a family Philanthropic sub-fund with the Australian Communities Foundation for his daughter, Scarlet, who died aged 20 in 2012, that raises and distributes funds to creative projects in developing communities.
Simon is currently a practice-based PhD candidate at RMIT School of Design and Architecture with a subject area ALL THAT WE ARE: ALL THAT I AM: ALL THAT WE CAN BE
Simon was awarded the Australia Council Fellowship in Community and Cultural Development in 2017.
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP
- Proven senior executive manager in the arts community sector.
- Diverse skills in building partnerships with government, corporate and philanthropic organisations to drive funding into community initiatives.
- Passionate team manager thriving on creativity and social justice. Proven ability to manage ideas from inception. Skilled at influencing at all levels of management.
- Collaborative, visionary and committed professional who has built programs in Europe and Australia with ethical focus on fund distribution.
KEY STRENGTHS INCLUDE
- Strong drive as an artist engaged in multiple forms of practice
- Identifies learning and self reflection as critical and with high emotional intelligence
- Built sustainable creative new venture into sustainable long term program for social benefit
- Bringing teams together and under a common creative vision
- Combining ideas and creative thinking
- Demonstrated high level of operational business, strategic and management experience
- A passionate and persuasive driver to build community partnerships for real outcomes in arts/social justice sector
KEY PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS
ALL THAT WE ARE: 2016 –
A new project centered on connecting people through the arts based in Tasmania. The project consists of a house with residential facilities for visiting artists, studio and events. www.allthatweare.org.au
ARTPLAY, THE CITY OF MELBOURNE: 2004 – 2015 www.artplay.com.au
Delivered a sustainable community arts program for over 20,000 participants per year, from inception, by building internal and external partners to raise funding and stakeholder support, conducting numerous presentations to community and stakeholders and identifying and selecting dynamic staff.
- Built from inception community arts program delivering creative arts opportunities to children, families and young people in State capital city venues
- Manage 30 staff to deliver on City Melbourne initiatives by recruiting, guiding, mentoring through a rapid growth phase to achieve practical outcomes.
- Manage two public buildings with annual program budget of $1.5m plus oversee Capital works and strategic visioning for future city centre precinct development
- Established ARTIST REFLECTIVE LEARNING PROGRAM for artist to share and learn from their work
Through the development of a methodology of engaging with children and parents through arts based workshops ArtPlay has developed a physical and cultural environment that fosters critical habits of mind for creative thinking. By employing professional artists to directly engage with children and their families or teachers this approach to learning develops key skills critical to engage in the world of the future. New learning frameworks where artists sit at the heart of the process of teaching and learning fosters children to think creatively, become empathetic and reflective learners while also contributing to greater social cohesion through shared and enjoyable adult/child encounters. The ArtPlay program has, since its inception in 2004, worked with over 1000 artists and 100,000 children. We have curated, funded and developed specific workshops across all art forms and for ages 0 – 13 building a powerful portfolio of offerings. Our Learning Exchange for artists has successfully developed the capacity of our Teaching Artist sector to build their leadership skills to understand their role through the transfer of skills, commitment and energy framed by a commitment to Social justice – core skills for social entrepreneurs.
This has been the critical work for Simon Spain as an artist for the last ten years: designing, curating and establishing a sustainable and dynamic model of artist/public engagement.
INITIATED, SUPPORTED AND INTEGRATED RESEARCH into ArtPlay 2005-2012
Created new internationally acknowledged educational research by building vision, analysing and selecting key partners, and overseeing a five year Australian Research Council program with The City of Melbourne, The University of Melbourne and The Australia Council for the Arts. Initiated, supported and integrated research. http://education.unimelb.edu.au/news_and_activities/projects/artplay
Initiated second Research project based around four ACCESS projects for supporting arts projects for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds: http://education.unimelb.edu.au/news_and_activities/projects/artplay/the_access_program
INTERCULTURAL ARTS/PEACE PROGRAM; IRELAND 1996-2003
Delivered a cross-border Peace and Reconciliation publishing programs for over 5000 participants by forging key partnerships and building a multi-year project engaging numerous artists with Catholic and Protestant schools communities along the border in Ireland. Brought together the Government Arts Funding bodies from North and South of Ireland for the first time by devising and managing a community development colloquium in 2002.
NUMEROUS ARTIST RESIDENCIES particularly at The Ark, Dublin 1996-2002
Contributed to formative development of first Arts Centre for Children in Europe by delivering long-term programs, attending strategic meetings and delivering professional development programs. Undertaken a range of artist in residence programs in schools communities around the world.
PUBLISHING BOOKS WITH COMMUNITIES – USING THE PAGE AS A CREATIVE SPACE, independently with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership Ireland 1997 – 2003, and supporting Kids’ Own Australia 2008 – present
Published over 20 multilingual books to schools communities by establishing a community publishing project in East London in 1992. Published first book in Irish traveller language Cant through community project in Ireland in 1999 and in East Timor in 2011. Continued involvement in community publishing through joint founding of Kids’ Own Publishing. Created an ongoing sustainable innovative community development arts program engaging thousands of children and families each year by founding, nurturing and strategically positioning a not-for-profit in Ireland in 1996 – 2002. Books mostly hand-printed using silk screen printing, many combining tradional print forms with emerging technologies.
POST FORMA – group exhibition of workshop with Martino Gamper (accompanying his 100 chairs in 100 days exhibition) RMIT DESIGN HUB, Melbourne – March 2016
BUNDANON TRUST, NSW: Ten-day practice residency, September 2015 including 2 schools workshops and studio visits.
DRAWING BOOKS: INCHEON AND JONJU, KOREA – residency program with Korean Arts and Educations Services (KACES) as part of teaching artists 33rd International workshop program, Seoul, October 2014
BUNDANON TRUST, NSW: Three-week practice residency, July 2014 including 4 schools workshops
TEACHING ARTIST SHOWCASE RESIDENCY INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF TEACHING ARTISTS, BRISBANE July 2014 selected as one of six international best-practice artists to demonstrate workshop activity
SELFIES: SOLO EXHIBITION, CHAPMAN AND BAILEY GALLERY,MELBOURNE – this exhibition was the outcome of the Bundanon residency and featured a series of portraits created on Ipad and presented as hand-made prints on paper.
BUNDANON TRUST, NSW: Two-week residency, July 2013 including 4 schools workshops Video of 2013 residency here: https://vimeo.com/71394286 including DIGITAL DILEMMAS – weekend professional development for artists see: https://bundanon.com.au/education/visual-arts-design/digital-dilemmas/
19119: SOLO EXHIBITION, CITY LIBRARY, MELBOURNE – this exhibition featured recent digital works created using iPad
BUNDANON TRUST, NSW: Two-week residency, July 2012 including 4 schools workshops
BOOK PUBLISHING PROJECT; EAST TIMOR: 2011 – short residency originating with children and publishing first books in Tetun and Fataloukou
AVOCA PROJECT, Victoria http://www.avocaproject.org 2008 Initiated and curated BIG DRAW project at Avoca See: http://scalefreenetwork.com.au/project/the-avoca-project/ Worked with Lyndal Jones to create public event engaging children and families with over ten professional artists engaged in making drawings.
ROADS TO NOWHERE: SOLO EXHIBITION – 2004 – start Gallery, Collingwood:
An exhibition of medium format prints made using small handprinted linocut elements.
OPENING COMMUNITY ARTS PROGRAM AT ACMI, MELBOURNE -SCREENS AND SCREAMS – 2002 commission to produce a multimedia production programme with 300 children. in Melbourne, Australia.
CR.E.A.T.E IRELAND– Creativity and Exchange through Arts and Technology in Education, 2002-2005 professional development program for artists and teachers to work together to plan, develop and deliver innovative arts and new technologies programmes to children in schools and community settings.
SIGHTINGS, IRELAND – 2002-2003 an action research project investigating community youth arts and the Internet. This project will place five artists in small rural community arts centres and youth clubs to explore uses of the Internet for creativity and exchange.
ARK.IE Founder and Creative Director of ark.ie – 2002: I initiated the concept of an Ark on the Internet – enabling children across the country to access the resources programmes of the Dublin based centre.
BOX HEDGE SOLO EXHIBITION: MODEL ART GALLERY, IRELAND 2001: Over three days a group of young people screen printed images onto pre-made boxes. Over 50 children were involved in making the temporary piece and after the exhibition closed each took their boxes home.
REPRESENTATION FOR IRELAND AT EXPO 2000 – commission to construct a children’s interactive multimedia presentation for the Irish pavilion for Expo 2000 in Germany. Over six months I employed a small team of programmers to work in several schools across Ireland to construct a multimedia presentation for touch-screens in the Irish Pavilion in Hanover.
MASSACHUSETS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: PLAYFUL INVENTION AND EXPLORATIONS WORKSHOPS, USA: 2000 took part in collaborative and exploratory lego mindstorms play and research project
FIGURING OUT THE STORY THE ARK, DUBLIN: July 2000: – A week long programme for children making small figures from paper and foil culminating in an installation in The Ark.
MAKE A BOOK IN A WEEK THE ARK, DUBLIN: July 2001: – A one week programme for children to publish a hand printed limited edition book.
ISLAND – CULTURAL MUSIC EXCHANGE, IRELAND: 1999 – 2000 – Project Manager for the Department of Education National Council for Technology in Education with The Kennedy Centre, Washington, DC. This was a one-year project involving a real exchange of teachers from Washington, Derry, Northern Ireland, and Dublin together with online exchange of ideas and music.
MULTIMEDIA MAPS, IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART – 1999-2002 – This project explored the possibilities for using new technologies in the classroom for creativity and exchangeby engaging professional artist in a classroom context.
THE FLOWER GARDEN, SOLO INSTALLATION AND ACTION – IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART 1998: Simple flowers were screen printed with children onto pre-cut card. The flowers were decorated with words written and cut out by children. The event was to mark the inaugural conference of the Children’s Rights Alliance at The Irish Museum of Modern Art.
TEMPLE BAR INTERNATIONAL TOURING PRINT SHOW, DUBLIN, GROUP EXHIBITION- 1998 Installation of two large-scale digital prints in a public setting in central Dublin. The two digital prints were paired with a series of large charcoal drawings of children’s toys made at the same time.
DRAWING THE STORY THE ARK, DUBLIN: Summer 1998: – 450 children in the construction of a huge wall drawing during the summer 1998.
RUMPUS, DUBLIN 1998 – a summer multimedia programme for kids at ARTHOUSE in Dublin. For the first time in Dublin’s Multimedia Arthouse I brought together a group of young people to create a multilayered story on the web.
NOTHING BUT FLOWERS, DUN LAOGHAIRE TOWN HALL, DUBLIN: 1998 1200 sheets of pre-cut card were screen printed and then transformed into petals with public participation over ten days.
TRAILS IN TIME -1998 – first prize and highly commended in four of the National Council for Educational Technology Multimedia Awards
DANCING WIRES THE ARK, DUBLIN: October 1998: – Based around the Mexican Day of the Dead over 150 children helped to construct a mobile made of skeletons.
CHANGING PAGES THE ARK, DUBLIN: November – December 1997: – Over 1700 children were given an insight into publishing and books.
GOLDEN LEAVES, TEMPLE BAR INTERNATIONAL STREET ART SYMPOSIUM, DUBLIN: 1997 Over 1000 leaves were hand printed and then distributed onto Temple Bar Square over the ten days of the exhibition.
ALPHA: THE ARK, DUBLIN: October 1996 – February 1997: – an introduction to print for children aged 4 – 12.
MAKING GIFS – Gallery 37 – a web design programme for unemployed teenagers in South London. 1996-7 Instrumental in bringing the Chicago based programme Gallery 37 to London, I initiated and ran workshops over two summers in web design and construction at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, USA.
MULITMEDIA AWARD 1995-6: Highly Commended for National Council for Education and Technology Multimedia awards for “BE SASSY BE SUSSED!” CD ROM on drugs prevention with a group of teenage girls in East London.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMS Engaged thousands of children in creative arts practice and published over 30 books by children by designing and delivering over 50 artist-in-residence programs in UK, Ireland, Sweden, USA.
Initiated, designed and delivered numerous arts programs with creative partners Urban Gateways, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education and Gallery 37 in Chicago
(Director of ORANGEBOX EDITIONS, LONDON , Creative Designer, Artist 1984 – 1996)
BY KIDS, FOR KIDS” THE HACKNEY SCHOOLS PUBLISHING PROJECT IN EAST LONDON, UK. This project published a range of bilingual books and publications for children in Hackney and beyond.
STREETWORK 1984-1990– THE CENTRE FOR URBAN STUDIES, LONDON+ HACKNEY ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROJECT, HACKNEY, UK + LEWIS COHEN URBAN STUDIES CENTRE, BRIGHTON, UK – program design and implementation for engaging children and young people in arts based activity engaging young people in cities.
PUBLISHING PRINTED BOOKS; I have published over 60 publications with children. These range from hand printed books in very small editions to commercially printed hardback books. The unique aspect of all of these books is that they are written and illustrated by children.
Teaching arts practice: Teaching artist meeting, Kennedy Centre for the Arts, Washington DC, USA, August 2016
Holistic Practice for Teaching Artists: International Teaching Artist conference, Edinburgh, August 2016
Children and the Arts; Public Forum, Hobart City Council, Tasmania, February 2016
ArtPlay: devising and delivering high quality arts programming for children by engaging a diverse range of artists in creative collaborations with children and families in a central city studio: East China Normal University, Shanghai January 2016
Teaching artists as leaders, Playeum Artist Gathering and Launch of new space, Playeum, Singapore July 2015
ArtPlay, the Theory and Practice – based on ArtPlay’s Bright Orange Door (ARC research project report), Korean Arts and Educations Services (KACES) teaching artists 33rd International workshop program, Seoul, October 2014
ArtPlay and teaching artists, Engaging with Quality – 2 day event for teaching Artists, Melbourne July 2014
Engaging artists at ArtPlay, International Conference of Teaching Artists 2, Brisbane July 2014
Making images on IPad, Video teaching presentation, Seoul University of Technology
Mapping Engagement at ArtPlay. PlaySpace – without borders Conference. September 2013 Leeds, Leeds Council, UK
ArtPlay, an example of utilising arts and culture educational spaces, UNESCO Asia Pacific Arts and Culture Research Symposium, Seoul, Korea, October 2013
Realising the potential of artist-child learning encounters: A multi-dimensional narrative. Worlds Together Conference at Tate Modern, TATE Modern, London , UK, September 2013
Behind ArtPlay’s Bright Orange Door, City of Melbourne Children’s Forum, June 2013
ArtPlay – learning from research, Presentation to Danish Arts Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark 2013
Behind ArtPlay’s Bright Orange Door, International teaching Artist Conference 1, Oslo, Norway, July 2012
Engaging Children and Families in the Arts, Creative Connections in the Early Years: Statewide Forum, 2012, Launceston, Tasmania
The Story of ArtPlay – defining creative spaces, Presentation to Tate Modern education team, July 2012
Getting Engaged: Engaging children and families in the arts, Awesome 2011 International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things. Perth, November 2011
ArtPlay – engaging artists, Playeum Teaching Artists, Singapore, July 2011
What is engaging for children and families and how do you know? Come Out Children’s Festival. Delegate Forum. April, 2011, Adelaide
Researching ArtPlay: Learning about, with and for young people, Changing Habitats. Are children and young people democratizing culture? Young People and the Arts National Symposium, Brisbane, June 2010
ArtPlay – why engaging artists works, An Arts Council National Symposium, Arts Council of Ireland, Dublin, September 2010
ArtPlay – a model for a child arts creative space, Playeum Arts Symposium, Singapore 2010
ArtPlay, engaging child audiences in Melbourne, IMAGINATE International Childrens Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 2010
ArtPlay – the story, Teaching artist event at Kulturprinsen, Aarhus, Denmark, 2010
Engaging Artists: profiling artists who work with children, Creative Connections in the Early Years: Statewide Forum, Launceston, Tasmania , 2012
What sparks engagement? Interpreting children’s engagement in artist-led programs at ArtPlay. Vision to Reality Conference, Queensland Studies Authority. Brisbane, April 2011
Mapping Children’s Engagement, Learning and Cultural Citizenship in Art Play. 17th International Conference on Learning. Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, July 2010
Mapping children’s engagement, learning and cultural citizenship at ArtPlay. Artistic and Creative Education Colloquium, University of Melbourne, Parkvile, October 2010
ArtPlay, Young People And the Arts (YPAA) workshop, Centre for Australian Democracy – Old Parliament House, Canberra 2009
Previous to 2004 (when I moved to Australia) I presented at events in Australia, Belfast and Dublin in Ireland, and Chicago in USA.
Brown, R and Spain, S 2013, Engaging Children as Cultural Citizens: reflections on the ArtPlay and South Kids Partnership, in Mapping South: Journeys in South – South Cultural Relations, Ed. Gardiner, A, The South Project, Victoria, Australia
Spain, S 2012, Realising the Potential of Artist-Child Learning Encounters at ArtPlay, Tate Modern, London UK available at
Arts and Culture Best Practice in Asia-Pacific Region; Australia: ArtPlay, UNESCO Asia Pacific regional Arts and Culture Symposium 2013, Korean National comminssion for UNESCO, Arts in education Observatories, UNESCO Bangkok Seoul, 2013
Key initiation and project development role in:
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, Behind ArtPlay’s Bright Orange Door, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia ISBN: 978 0 7340 4818 9 at http://education.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/720688/behindtheBrightOrangeDoorARC.pdf
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, The ACCESS program at ArtPlay and Signal
An Australia Council for the Arts Creative Community Partnership Initiative Report Summary
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, The Backyard Project: Animating the public outdoor environment through artful play
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, Evolution : Re-engaging young people through the visual arts, http://education.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/720824/Evolution.pdf
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, Signal 37: Engaging young people as co-creators with artists http://education.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/720829/Signal37.pdf
Brown, R and Jeanneret, N 2103, ArtPlay and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra City Beats, http://education.unimelb.edu.au/news_and_activities/projects/artplay/artplay_files/CityBeats.pdf
ArtPlay is held as an international model of good practice in Inspirational Cultural programmes research, Innovation Unit, AND ( A new direction for Arts, culture and Young London) 2013 available at:
International Research Panel member for Playeum, Singapore (current)
Peer Panel member Tas Arts (current)
Peer Panel member RMIT School of Art Advisory Panel (current)
Peer panel member Australia Council for the Arts (current)
Board member Kids Own Publishing Australia (current)
Arts Victoria Artist in Schools Panel member (2010)
International Associate Tate Learning UK (invited – upcoming)