Matt Retallick Research Questionnaire 10: Grace Collins

Name: Grace Collins
Location: St Helens

1. What is your relationship to Merseyside?

I grew up in St Helens, moved away to London for uni & came back in 2020. 

2. How does Merseyside impact or shape your practice? 

I hope my practice has the friendliness of Merseyside in it’s wanting to work together and trying to say it how it is (and imagine how it could be). 

3. What’s are the positives and negatives of living and working in Merseyside? 

Positives: I’ve found loads of enthusiastic art-interested people with the time, energy and open mind to get involved in co-creating artworks and artist networks. Support from local art organisations has also been amazing both in sustaining meaningful relationships and funding the arts at grassroots levels. 

Negatives: Trying to find affordable housing and access public transport that runs on time is close to impossible. 

4. What does independence / being independent mean to you? 

An alternative to competition within the arts. Close relationships between artists, local organisations and institutions can create better practice (and outcomes) for all. 

5. Is Merseyside a good place to be independent? 

As an individual, I think so. 

6. What are your favourite examples of independence / the independent in Merseyside? 

Individual artists I’ve met (mainly through St Helens’ Artists Together network) are amazing in their want to work together, mutually support each other and do stuff ourselves, which has been really exciting to see. 

7. What is your favourite cultural organisation in Merseyside and why? 

As someone who’s returned to Merseyside really recently, I know and love organisations who I’ve become ‘affiliated’ with through the support they’ve given me and other artists (St Helens Culture Hubs, Heart of Glass, Metal Liverpool). I love what I’ve heard about Liverpool Tool Library and Kitty’s Laundrette (one day I’ll get out of my house to visit them). The ‘culture’ of being together is something Merseyside does best. 

8. What is your favourite place in Merseyside and why? 

I love hearing good and bad reviews of public sculpture so Sutton Manor Woodland (Dream) and Crosby beach (Another Place). (+ I’m close to the Cheshire border, so Spike Island and my studio in Warrington are ruled out.) 

9. If you could make Merseyside different, what would you change, and why? 

A broader diversity in the arts, with more BAME, LGBTQ+, disabled artists and poor artists included in arts programming. I’d like to see the ‘independent’ supported by the institutional and connections that cross local geographic boundaries. 

10. Describe Merseyside to someone who’s never visited 

I’ve had to google the Merseyside border so I’m not the best person to ask. There’s a bit more time and a bit more space, friendly people and a lot of good art/artists not in the Tate.