The 2019 Plymouth Art Weekender was packed full of unconventional art shows, immersive experiences, fun workshops and thought-provoking talks from the local art community and beyond, including our staff and students.
Here, we reflect on Notopia, the debut show by art collective dOgMiLk, that explored uncertain futures and a land of no promises and no time, featuring the work of Molly Erin McCarthy, Sam Machell and Colin de Luc (a.k.a. The Sand Gardeners), Olivia Stewart, Scarlet Winter, Kane Cottrell, Nicole Schaefer, Holly Neville, Summer Varley and Babeworld 3000 at new Plymouth art space, Leadworks.
BA (Hons) Fine Art students Molly, Scarlet and Sam talk us through the value of collective working and their experience as emerging voices in Plymouth's active arts scene...
Tell us about your collective and what has brought you together.
Molly: Like most collectives, we were first brought together by our circumstances - studying art in Plymouth - but as our friendship grew we realised we had a lot of similar interests and attitudes. We often work with the same themes, but the stuff we produce can be wildly different. I think that’s what makes dOgMiLk work.
Scarlet: We have given each other a safe space to discuss and critique our own and others work, and I think we are all really passionate about expanding that space, as well as the conversations we are having about personality, digital self, and accountability.
Sam: It’s very easy to be depressed these days… Approaching eschaton… So I think a key part of the dOgMiLk manifesto is to bring absurdity to the apocalypse. We want our collective to be an ultimately positive force in a time of darkness.
“We are all digital natives coming of age and getting angry!” — Scarlet Winter, BA (Hons) Fine Art student
What do you love about showing and making work in Plymouth?
Molly: For me, it just feels unreal, I grew up here but moved away at 18, when I came back I fell in love with the city in a way I couldn’t before. Seeing all the arts and community projects springing up is honestly humbling, and just the thought of being part of that is exciting. It’s great to see a city you know so well flourish.
Scarlet: I grew up over the border in Cornwall, but I have a lot of formative memories in Plymouth. I’ve found a lot of independence here, both when I was younger and more recently. For me, it’s so exciting to watch the art community grow in the city, and also feel like I’m growing with it.
Sam: I’m more of a tourist in Plymouth, having only moved here a few years ago to study, so my love for the city is maybe more aesthetic or whatever: ocean breezes, fish & chips etc. At least that’s how it started. There’s a real sense of collective creativity and excitement regarding the growth of the art scene as well!
What can you tell us about the project, and why was now a good time to share it?
Molly: Notopia was born from a lot of frustration, the time we’re living through feels so chaotic and negative in a lot of ways. We wanted to do something that took this sense of unease and transformed it into a celebration of contemporary emerging artists, their perspectives, and the ways they’re working around limitations imposed by austerity.
Sam: It’s currently a pretty pivotal time for Plymouth what with the redevelopment of the city centre and the approaching Mayflower commemorations. There seems to be mixed messages regarding the city’s place in history: whether it should be celebrated, or erased; upheld, or redeveloped. But all of these conversations are lacking the voice we really need to hear from: the youth, whose lives will be affected by all the decisions being made. This show is a panicked shout for attention, a plea for listening ears, or maybe a death rattle… Who knows.
Scarlet: We are all digital natives coming of age and getting angry!
Following their stand out show Notopia, dOgMiLk went on to showcase Bad Times at Plymouth College of Art, an immersive exhibition exploring collective bleakness and creating safe spaces to make, feel, write and experience this for visitors. Follow dOgMiLk on Instagram.