Creative opportunity to make art in Bedford’s empty M&S building

Marks and Spencer External Corner

An independent charity is working with M&S to create opportunities for artists in some of the company’s empty units.

The former M&S in Bedford is among the properties available via the Axisweb ‘Vacant Spaces’ initiative and they are inviting interested artists to apply.

Axisweb has operated in temporary space over the last four years, occupying 100 properties and supporting a thousand artists. Public engagement in the work has reached tens of thousands.

The opportunity is open to Axisweb members, and anyone interested is encouraged to join in order to apply. Membership is from £2.50 a month and includes public liability insurance, often an obstacle to artists’ working in public spaces.

“We work with over 5,000 artists in the UK, including curators and producers,” said Mark Smith, executive director of Axisweb.

The opportunity is open to artists, performers and community groups.

“We’d encourage anyone with creativity at the heart of what they do to apply,” said Mark

Over the last ten years, Bedford’s creative community has made imaginative use of empty shops throughout the town.

David Litchfield’s ‘A Drawing a Day’ exhibition in 2011 on Castle Lane. The unit is now Boyds of Bedford/Vintage Suit Hire

From We Are Bedford’s Castle Quay Weekender in Castle Lane in 2011, the Circus of Illustration’s Drawing Room on Mill Street, Novus Theatre’s pop up performance space, David Litchfield’s ‘A Drawing a Day’ exhibition on Castle Lane, BedPop’s 68 High Street takeover in 2014 and Evie and Lola’s pop up shop in the Arcade, the impact of creative use of space enhances the town centre.

“It’s great to hear that Axis and M&S are looking to enable the use of this empty store for some creative activity,” said Elaine Midgely, director of Bedford Creative Arts.

“Pop-up spaces bring energy, ideas and excitement that can enhance the town centre and provides a great opportunity for the artistic community in Bedford.

“Pop-up spaces are so flexible as they can be used for anything from visual art to performance to digital projection.  I can’t wait to see what local Axis members come up with.”

Anyone interested in finding our more about the opportunity should complete the expression of interest form.  To join Axisweb, visit their website.