Lumin Library, which was given an artist’s residency in the back corner of Three Doors Up, has now been uninstalled. Although underdeveloped and semi-functional due to monetary and other limitations, it remained a necessary space in Cardiff.
It was for the community of artists and non-artists alike to feel a sense of freedom and openness in the city, meet other artists, find and share ideas, and collaborate. The walls were paid for by the space through Arcade Cardiff’s arts council funding, books were donated by several artists to be taken out on a no-due-date and trust basis, almost all the furniture was bought by us out of our pockets, and slowly the library took shape as a salon-cum-lounge a la Gertrude Stein and Shakespeare & Co.
It represented sincerity, inclusivity, and openness to pure expression. In five months Lumin Library hosted meetings, workshops, poetry readings, artistic happenings, an underground writer’s group, and was integrated into art exhibitions. The nature of the library was un-limited and un-defined, as were the works and ideas that were produced within its temporary walls.
However, there was some resistance felt through passive looks and in private conversations, which points to a pertinent issue in the city’s art scene. Despite the space being supported by Three Doors Up, and following its ethos as a lounge for artist project development and collaboration, there was always a sense, from some that weren’t involved in the creation of the library, that we had ‘co-opted’ a potential exhibition space. That it was thought of as unsophisticated. That it was an ‘opposing’ rather than alternative type of space.
Yet, perhaps these people that showed resistance have not experienced the art scene in Cardiff like we have. From our perspectives, most art spaces felt too exclusive. Some felt cliquey with the same people both curating and exhibiting at most events. They created a sense of an art scene that takes knowing the right people to ‘get in’. And that’s why an alternative space was necessary in Cardiff. Lumin Library was created in reaction to, but not in opposition to, these less open spaces. The resistance in spite of this makes us think that those functioning and benefiting from institutional traditions in the art scene feel threatened in some way when you open spaces that let ‘outsider’ artists in; when you create an undefined space for creation, thought, and development on what the city’s art scene needs.
In Lumin Library, and with LUMIN in general, we tried to provide a real alternative. There were no closed-calls for submissions, no need to ‘get into’ the scene, and there was no single person curating anything. The space was free to use for all, collaborative, and LUMIN events involved live music, projections, art and poetry. From being open in these ways, we have met, published and collaborated with many talented and wide-thinking artists that all seemed to express disillusionment for the current scene, and excitement for what LUMIN posed as an alternative.
The library was one expression of LUMIN, with its ethos and aims of experimenting, collectiveness, facilitating and disseminating art & thought, and encouraging anti-institutional mindsets. It wanted to create a scene that is contemporary to us, and attempted to de-institutionalise and redefine the accepted white wall space. We hope the sincerity and necessity that this project was created out of speaks for itself; and from the opportunity we’re going to keep developing the idea of diverse, inclusive and open spaces for sincere art and expression.
Lumin Library is open to pop-ups, installations, residencies and workshops (drop us an email if you have any ideas); with a potential residency in the works from September outside of Cardiff. We are also working towards acquiring a permanent space that would encompass an independent/art/DIY book shop, studio/collaboration space, and alt-exhibition space.
We would like to thank Robert Kennedy for all of his support, and everyone that used and enjoyed the library.
Beau & Sadia
(If you’ve still got library books out, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org whenever you’ve finished reading them, no rush!)