Desired Futures – can art provide practical/aesthetic solutions to social, political and environmental problems? #1

I was recently asked to speak at the Desired Futures Symposium #8 hosted by Mima and Platform Arts, held at Darlington Library. My fellow presenters were artist Neil Bromwich (part of the artist duo Walker and Bromwich) and deputy director of Grizedale Arts Alistair Hudson.

The discussions were contextualised by a question from Walker and Bromwich:

‘Is it possible for Art, and more particularly our practice to provide practical, aesthetic and poetic solutions to social political and environmental problems?’

My own presentation on creative timebanking was contextualised by my belief that artists are part of the society we live in, and that we/artists have valuable skills to contribute to the challenges faced by contemporary society (Waymarking Manifesto).

Alistair and Neil presented some fascinating ideas and projects in order to address the question.


One of the featured works was Walker and Bromwich’s Art Lending Library – commissioned by Market Gallery in Glasgow – it is currently being seen at Crown Street Library, Darlington, and participated in by local people, who can join the Art Lending Library for free, to take an artwork out, to have in their home for a few weeks.

In relation to Walker and Bromwich’s work I am interested in how they’ve been able to position themselves as both firmly within the art world (being represented by Pippa Houldsworth Gallery), and yet also making rigorous socially engaged work.

Image credit: Walker and Bromwich



About waymarkingthesketchbook

Sarah Spanton is director of arts organisation Waymarking -
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