An annual research residency from Artquest in partnership with Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives

This was an opportunity for a London based artist, working in any medium, with at least 5 years’ experience working outside of education, to develop their practice responding to the collections of the Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives.

This project is temporarily suspended due to ongoing restrictions and host staff furlough as a result of the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic.  Follow us on Twitter or sign up to our newsletter to hear developments as they happen.

The Award

The selected artist receives:

  • An award of £3000 to engage with the collections of the Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives
  • An additional award for a public facing event showcasing the thinking and research undertaken during the residency
  • Privileged access to the Library’s staff and archives

Please note, this is not a studio residency and applicants are expected to have their own studio / workspace to complete any work.

The selected artist will be expected to:

  • Visit the library and engage with the collections at least one day a week over the research period (October – December 2019)
  • Participate in three interviews over the residency period which will be recorded and hosted on Artquest and partner websites.
  • Produce online content (articles, video, interviews, blog etc) about their experiences on the residency (details to be decided in discussion with Artquest)
  • Work with Artquest and Conway Hall to organise a closing event to showcase their thinking, research and work over the period of the residency

Eligibility criteria are fixed for this residency: please only apply if you meet the criteria. For more detailed information on eligibility criteria and other frequently asked questions read our FAQs page.

Selected artist: 2019-2020

Sophia Kosmaoglou employs a broad range of practices to address the construction of identity in relationships and to subvert conventions, authority and rationalism in performative representations. Her current practice engages with pedagogy and collectivity, blurring the boundaries between art, education and activism to question the ontology of art, its social functions and institutional contexts and to promote and experiment with independent, collective or cooperative alternative economies.

Sophia Kosmaoglou is an artist, tutor, curator, researcher and activist. She has a practice-based PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths and her research interests include alternative art education, radical pedagogy, self-organisation, collectivity, autonomy, institutions and the relationship between art and politics. In 2015 she founded ART&CRITIQUE, a peer-led alternative art education network based in London and in 2019 she co-founded the Radical Pedagogy Research Group, a research project on alternative art education, radical pedagogy and self-organisation.

During her residency at the Conway Hall Humanist Library Sophia expanded her research on co-operatives, self-organisation and alternative art education and crowdsource a strategy to set up a co-operative art school. Her research focussed on collective, commons-based economies and non-hierarchical social models, for more independence and self-determination through sustainable and ethical working conditions, alleviating anxiety, fostering collaboration and solidarity and providing access to shared resources and training. She also developed her research in alternative art education, which challenges mainstream institutional and educational models with respect to authorship, responsibility, labour relations and the art economy more broadly. Sophia organised discussions and workshops on co-operatives in the arts, conducted interviews and documented and disseminated the research in pamphlets, zines and a blog.

Residency interview

An interview with Sophia Kosmaoglou , on her experiences over the residency period.

Residency workshops: archive

A co-operative art school?  is Sophia’s research project on co-operative education, alternative art education, radical pedagogy, self-organisation and other dimensions of a co-operative learning environment. As part of this project and her research residency, Sophia ran a series of workshops that asked: What would a co-operative art school look like? How would it work? Who is it for and what would the benefits be? The workshops all took place at Conway Hall and more details and images from the sessions are below.

Residency closing event: Alternative Art Education (Slow) Marathon

Online event, 25 July 2020

Presented by the alternative art education community, Conway Hall, Artquest and TOMA, this event marked the closing of the Conway Hall residency and celebrated alternative art education and the launch of issue 1 of URgh! a zine on education and precarity.

The day included a range of activities, workshops and presentations by artists and members of the alternative art education community. Contributors to the programme are below. Visit Sophia Kosmaoglou’s website for more detailed information.

  • Zine workshop with TOMA
  • Alternative art school and peer-support group Jamboree
  • Open discussion on online education, labour and cooperation
  • Zine workshop wrap up by TOMA
  • Alternative Art School Film Compilation
  • Microworld @HOME workshop with Genetic Moo
  • Art and/or Science Reading Group
  • Darshana Vora [2020] Lost & Found
  • Z-Crit with Artquest
  • Milky Genes (non) art school disco

About Conway Hall Library and Archives

Conway Hall is the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, with a history tracing back to 1787. The building was created in 1929 as a home for the Ethical Society by architect Frederick Herbert Mansford and since then has welcomed the likes of H.G. Wells, Dora and Bertrand Russell, Fenner Brockway and Mary Stocks and, more recently, key humanist and progressive figures such as A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Samira Ahmed and Brian Cox. Today Conway Hall promotes the principles of secular humanism through an arts programme, educational courses, exhibitions and talks.

Since 1886, the Library has been a haven for radicals, political and social reformers and freethinkers who dared to dream of a better world. Conway Hall Library & Archives document the past and present of humanism and the heritage of the Ethical Society and the National Secular Society. Conway Hall Library is the only specialist humanist library in the UK. The collections include modern and rare books, pamphlets, journals, archival materials, digital collections and artworks.

You can read more about the Conway Hall Library and Archives and research the collections online here.

Collections highlights include:

  • Busts and portraits of key progressive figures including Thomas Paine, Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant, George Jacob Holyoake and Bertrand Russell
  • The archive of the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts – the longest-running chamber music programme in Europe, established in 1878 with the aim of democratising access to music performance
  • Original building plans for Conway Hall
  • Correspondence including letters from William Morris, George Bernard Shaw and Peter Kropotkin to the Ethical Society
  • Radical political and social reform pamphlets from the nineteenth century to the present
  • The writing desk of Richard Carlile, campaigner for the freedom of the press