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Ruth Monks

Hi all! 

I’m back to check in with a bit of a bittersweet update as this will be my last blog as intern at Deco Publique and The National Festival of Making, but I really couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye. This internship has been so amazing and has never felt like work to me so to be able to finish it at over the festival weekend has been the icing on the cake! I got to finally see what the team work towards all year round and then took over a role which meant that I was super involved with everything that was going on. I even managed to sneak into a few activities, did some screen printing and made my first samosa! Not bad for “work.”

In the run up to the festival and my main responsibility was to look after the Festival of Making Instagram and make sure everyone knew what was in store for this year. Being able to interact with you all on our social medias really gave me a feel for Blackburn’s sense of pride in its multiculturalism, diversity and ability to host such an amazing, large scale event. And when I finally got to Blackburn on the Friday before the festival, I was blown away. This was my first time in Blackburn and it will definitely not be my last.

Getting off the train, the first thing I saw was the work of Dan Edwards’s Art in Manufacturing commission with The Senator Group. It was so lovely to see the work I had only seen in pictures  up and in action! Over the weekend I worked with all of the Art in Manufacturing artists in some way and it was so much fun to finally meet them in person. I loved helping Amy Pennington install her work and listening to Liz Wison talk about her time working with Spiroflow which led to her amazing piece, The Optical Mechanical. All of the artists were incredible and have helped me gain such an invaluable insight into arts commissioning and large scale art projects.

On Friday, I was lucky enough to meet the amazingly kind Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England as we showed him around the festival venues. It was great to chat with him and see what he thought makes a successful arts event (and more importantly, about his love for yarnbombing)! This was a great introduction to my work for the Saturday as I took over the Arts Council England Instagram, @aceagrams, on behalf of the National Festival of Making! As well as keeping up with our socials, it meant that I was working absolutely non stop but it definitely paid off. We managed to show off the amazing work that everyone was doing and showed a glimpse of all the different making that goes on over the weekend. 

Although I did do a lot of running about to catch everything, there is no way I could have been everywhere at once. I definitely would not have been able to capture it all without the help of the whole of the NFoM team who were out grabbing pictures from wherever they were at the festival and sending them my way. And what a team! It is impossible to work at the NFoM without meeting so many lovely and talented people. It was so much fun being able to all get together outside of working hours on the Saturday night to let our hair down and relax.

The next day, the rain clouds cleared and Blackburn turned into a sunny hub of creativity and excitement. Sunday was the day for the performers who were rained on the previous day to come out and absolutely takeover the town, with my favourite by far being RiRi’s Bollywood dance workshop, which seemed to get the whole of blackburn up and dancing.

So other than just a really fun weekend, what have I gained from this experience? Deco Publique and the National Festival of Making have given me such an incredible opportunity to learn about how big arts commissioning projects work and the effect that the arts can make in a community. This internship has definitely helped shape how I will approach my own career and art practice going forwards as I aim to deliver the arts to communities outside of London and in the north which may be otherwise overlooked. I believe that the arts should be for everyone and I hope that the positive ethos of the NFoM will follow me for the rest of my artistic career. 

I am endlessly grateful for being given this opportunity and I don’t think it will be the last time you’ll see me wandering around over the festival weekend.

Hopefully I’ll see you all again soon, as I’m really pleased to share that Deco Publique have offered me my first official freelance position, so I’ll be staying on with the team as Freelance Digital Marketing Assistant!


(stay in touch with Ruth on Instagram!)