Since 2001, Free Range has staged Graduate Shows for young creatives in The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the epicentre of London’s fashionable East End. This year, between May 28th and July 16th, Free Range is showcasing the work of more than three thousand graduates in over 70 shows, making it the largest graduate Art, Design and Fashion show in the UK.
Free Range came about in 2000, with the intention of staging special events to promote young creatives. “Initially, this was to showcase The Old Truman Brewery as a creative venue, and provide up and coming talent with a platform,” explains Free Range’s director, Tamsin O’Hanlon. “Now these special projects very much push themselves forward under their own momentum.” It’s easy to see why, with a diverse programme that boasts shows from institutes as far apart as University College Falmouth and Edinburgh Napier University, as well as dozens in between.
It is the constant innovation of Free Range which has driven its success. The past two years have seen the inclusion of Fashion and Motion Arts shows, in addition to those in Design, Photography, Art and Interiors, and Tamsin is keen to continue to expand the programme: “This year I’ve encouraged the students to do what I call ‘mini events’ – a mixture of talks, workshops, tours, auctions and happenings on the Fridays and Mondays during the season”. All of this means that Free Range 2012 is packed full of even more amazing content than ever before.
Times are hard in 2012, particularly for young creatives, when Arts funding is thin on the ground. This makes creative communities such as Free Range all the more important: “many people who get noticed are part of a group or collective,” says Tamsin, and Free Range offers a unique opportunity to the graduates participating in it. Tamsin and her team use their collective wisdom and experience to showcase the work of vibrant up-and-coming talent, and provide an invaluable opportunity to exhibit their work in London, which Tamsin believes is crucial to success in an increasingly competitive creative market: “London remains one of the most important creative hubs in the world… It’s a place of opportunity”.
Most importantly of all, however, Free Range is a chance for the public to experience and enjoy unparalleled access to some of the most exciting emerging talent in Britain today. So get down to The Old Truman Brewery and see for yourselves!
Words: Jack Casey
Illustration by: Niall Grant