Fab Project the Making of Future Artists

Unique programme will equip young people across Europe with digital fabrication skills and see established artists create works for international exhibition

Three leading FabLab facilities in Derry~Londonderry, Limerick and Madrid have come together for a unique international programme of art-making, exhibition, training and networking, that will benefit local artists and young people.

Future Artist-Maker Labs will give artists from across Europe free access to the latest digital fabrication technologies and materials for art-making through FabLabs at the Nerve Centre, University of Limerick and Ultralab, Madrid.

The project will include artist residencies in each of the FabLabs during which established international artists will create new pieces of work for display in a major touring European Future Artist-Maker Exhibition scheduled for late 2016 / early 2017.

Future Artist-Maker Labs is led by the Nerve Centre, and funded by Creative Europe, the former Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Acorn Fund.

Dublin-based conceptual artist Jim Ricks has recently been artist-in-residence at FabLab Nerve Centre. Inspired by the city’s mural art, Ricks created a new mural on a gable wall in Riverview Park using stencils laser cut in the FabLab. The mural has a retro design, with '80s era hot pink lettering and an image of an aspirational beach surfer lifestyle, with the wording 'LIFE’S A BEACH – ART IMITATES LIFE'.

Ricks also used 3D-printing technologies to create a range of art works, including a bronze replica of Michael Collins’s nose, based on the bust of the Irish revolutionary leader on display in Merrion Square.

During the artist residency, 12 young local apprentices aged 17 -20 were taken through an accredited training programme in Digital Fabrication, part-funded by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund.

The apprentices worked alongside Ricks using state-of-the-art digital manufacturing technologies, open source design software and a selection of computer controlled machines including 3D printers, laser cutters, milling machines and CNC routers.

The project’s Community Creative engagement programme is also giving artists and creatives in the North West free access to FabLab equipment for art-making to challenge and expand their art practice.

David Lewis, project lead at the Nerve Centre, welcomed the launch of the project: 'We are delighted to be working with University of Limerick and Ultra-Lab, Madrid, on this unique Creative Europe funded project. Future Artist-Maker Labs will foster international networking between three former Cities of Culture and project participants, sharing expertise and good practice in art-making and fabrication.

'As FabLabs allow users to literally design and create anything, the potential for artists and creative players to use digital fabrication technologies in their artistic practice is huge and an emerging area of practice. This is their opportunity to work and showcase on an international level.'

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented; 'Future Artist-Maker Labs is an engaging, impressive initiative which uses cutting-edge technologies to enable our artists to showcase their talents internationally, whilst at the same time, sharing and developing new skills with their international contemporaries. The Arts Council is delighted to support this project and wish the Nerve Centre every success.'

FabLabs are a concept developed by the Centre for Bits and Atoms at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which is bringing digital disruption to education, manufacturing, employment and learning. Nerve Centre and Ashton Community Trust opened Ireland’s first FabLabs in 2012 with the support of the EU Peace Programme and SEUPB.

Stay up to date with the project by following Nerve Centre on Facebook and Twitter.