Meet the Artist started in 2014 as a way to recognise and platform the incredibly ambitious work being made by artists based across the East Midlands! Following an extended break Meet the Artist is back for a limited run, which will see CVAN EM platform work by an artist from each county in the region.

FROMTHEGROUNDUP (FTGU) is an interdisciplinary art and architectural design studio focused on working with reclaimed and natural building materials wich have a low impact on the planet. They work with participatory design methodologies to co-produce work which doesn’t always result in a building. The organisation is also not-for-profit – with profits being reinvested into the business for the good of the community. FTGU’s private client work subsidises their work on community projects, meaning they operate on a Robin Hood economic model at a local scale. FTGU is also a worker’s co-op, no individual working for FTGU will have full control, rather, the responsibility and ownership is shared out among members and directors. Their mission is to leave places and spaces in a better condition than they found them.

Dizzy Ink. FTGU

Where do you practice?

We are based at Primary in Nottingham, UK, where we have a studio space among the vibrant art scene here. Our work is mainly local, taking place in and around Nottingham. This is partly because we are a team currently made up of Nottingham locals who have returned, wishing to improve the city from the ground up (pun intended) combining our knowledge as architectural designers in collaboration with people, communities and organisations to develop a more climate conscious city. That said, we are interested in working further afield and internationally. But, to begin with we are focussing on building good relationships and a solid reputation at home before seeking to work in further afield places and spaces.

Materials Store Annual Maintenance Diagram. FTGU

What do you practice?

Our practice is fundamentally interdisciplinary. We welcome collaboration with people from a diverse range of practices, including artists, community leaders, makers, musicians, growers, individuals and organisations. It really depends on the project and if it aligns with our values. The work is largely of a spatial and architectural nature, but first and foremost it is for people and planet above profit. We also view architectural products as an art form in themselves, models, drawings, sketches, raw materials, bits and pieces of building, processes of making buildings and even the experience of space. Essentially, we aim to elevate materials and spaces from something ordinary to something extra-ordinary. This may sound like a lofty ideal, but our environments play a large part in shaping who we are. If our environmental conditions have been imbued with care and consideration, we are likely to feel this and be more able to show this outwardly to others.

How is your work shaped by your locality?

We are primarily a Nottingham-based practice, the majority of our work happens in and around the city. Our work is shaped by a multitude of factors; arts, culture, geography, community groups, climate change, government policy you name it. We work on a project-by-project basis, each has its own unique focus, drawings from a variety of different ideas and influences. They often necessitate their own research and learning, while also informing one another. For example, the Materials Store at Primary – a small structure around 30m2 – is designed and built from and to store ‘waste’ materials from art and exhibition production, for reuse within the arts community at Primary and beyond. Here, we spotted an issue – an abundance of materials being wasted or downcycled – and proposed to change it. By creating this store people will not only have access to free materials, as well as keeping them in circulation, there will also be a new workshop space for residents, members and wider public of Primary to use. The Materials Store has led us to think more deeply about material reuse and how we might employ this practice within other projects.

The Studio, New Art Exchange. FTGU

What are you working on?

We are usually working on several projects at a time. They are typically at various scales and have different requirements. One project we are excited about is The Studio at New Art Exchange (NAE).  Following an open call process at the end of 2023 we were selected to redesign and remake the space into an exciting more inspiring art studio for resident artists at NAE. We are using a combination of our own intuitions and participatory design processes with previous and future artists in residence at NAE to realise the design. We will then collaborate with FENN Woodwork Nottingham to build the space. This project encapsulates a lot of our practice into a project – retrofitting an existing space whilst improving it, collaborating with and facilitating the arts and design community in Nottingham, and using the most appropriate and environmentally conscious materials we can to do so.

Can you speak a little more about FROMTHEGROUNDUP and how it was established?

FROMTHEGROUNDUP is essentially a birth child of Primary. We both rent studio spaces there, Jake for a bit longer admittedly. We have each been going at it solo whilst finishing our architectural studies, then once we got that out the way we decided to join forces and here we are!

Materials Store, Primary. FTGU

How do you plan to continue to develop and establish FTGU whilst finding new ways of funding the projects you are most passionate about realising?

Most of our work so far has come from word of mouth, usually from contacts we have built-up individually and collectively over time. We are now beginning to share FTGU more widely and people can see what we are up to via our Instagram page. We are in the midst of developing a website too, which will go live in the next month or so. We will continue to establish ourselves by going to meetings, building relationships, attending openings, doing research, making and teaching. We will also continue to apply for pots of funding relevant to our practice and we are always open to collaboration in Nottingham and beyond. So, if you have an exciting project you feel would be a good fit, sound us out! We have a kettle and are always up for a chat.

Find out more about FTGU’s practice by following their on Instagram.

Angelique was interviewed in March 2024.

All images are courtesy of the artist.

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