John Clark was founder and Creative Director of Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, an independent, unfunded Arts Centre with a focus on hybrid arts projects (BSA folded eighteen months after his departure). John Clark's work involved not only curating exhibitions but giving artistic direction to the entire programme of exhibitions and events - although BSA was a small, largely volunteer led organisation it had an unusually ambitious programme - sometimes staging up to eight exhibitions simultaneously as well as supporting events and performances.
John Clark's role at Bank Street Arts involved everything from charity law to contracts, employment and training, finance and funding, exhibitions and events and everything in between. One of the unique aspects of the organisation was a desire not to separate a critical view of the arts itself from that of the context and funding in which the art was both created and shown. BSA was a hybrid arts centre: from its cross disciplinary approach to its finance, structures and governance, all aspects of the centre were viewed as areas to be challenged and examined. This holistic view echoes John's personal interest in the politics of art and culture. It is telling that after his departure, and with a focus on continuing to create a lively, constantly changing and ambitous arts programme, the team at Bank Street had little interest in how to develop and maintain exterior relationships, governance and funding, and lacking a creative and flexible approach in those areas, the Centre ran very quickly into trouble
As a practitioner, John Clark's principle area of interest is text, not specifically 'text-art' (which is an interest) but rather text as an interface in contemporary arts, the mediator of all we see and view and the medium of mediation. Many of the exhibitions John has been involved in have taken the subject of artistic mediation as a central thread of the show itself - text as mediator becoming in some form the subject matter in hand.
An important strand of his work at Bank Street Arts was responsibility for the innovative Residency Programme, based on the principle of dialogue and exchange with the artists and writers who participated. The focus of the scheme, as well as the Arts Centre itself, was on the process of work being created rather than the product or exhibited outcome so common in many residency schemes. That is not to say that exhibitions were not part of these residency projects but more that the focus was on experiment, process and most importantly trying to 'make visible' that process.
Central to John Clark's work is the challenge to communicate process in the work of others without somehow taking on the role of mediator.
John left BSA at the beginning of 2016 to take a year out to travel and recharge the batteries before taking on new projects/challenges.