Maurice Carlin >>

Temporary Custodians of Islington Mill

August 14th - September 10th 2017

Temporary Custodians of Islington Mill is an experiment in art distribution and ownership, proposing a new idea for a 'public' art collection. The centrepiece of the work, an installation of 100 relief prints is temporarily held by a network of custodians rather than centrally held by a single owner or institution. Everyone who buys a print enters a 10 year ‘custodianship’ from 2018 to 2028, a joint ownership with fellow buyers which gives them the opportunity to decide the future of the complete installation, while entering into conversations about the nature of art ownership. Showing for the first time, this video piece is derived from edits of livestream footage produced as part of the live production phase of the artwork.

The uniqueness of an artwork is one of its most defining characteristics; more often than not, only one will ever exist. This individuality in authorship translates into ownership – the collector of a unique piece is guaranteed sole access to something that no other person in the world has. The goal for this work is to challenge this value system, upon which art and artists have become so dependent. The motivation to buy a piece of this artwork is to join a community of co-owners, to share access to art and to participate in a open-ended experiment into a new form of cultural commons.

The exhibition is accompanied by a text work by David McLeavy, Post Show Blues, an extract from a screenplay tracking the experience of fictional artist Miles Carter as he tries to navigate the commercial art world in London. Considering themes of authorship, custodianship, profit and the conflicting languages of both the critical and commercial art worlds- Miles Carter's experiences are thrown into direct contrast with the work of Maurice Carlin.

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Maurice Carlin’s work is an exploration of structures and processes, emerging from a peer-led educational structure he co-founded in 2007 (Islington Mill Art Academy), which has been acknowledged as one of the first of the recent slew of alternative art schools set up in response to student fees and the debate around the relevance and usefulness of mainstream art education. Recently, he has been exploring shared ownership through the production of distributed installations; artworks made of components (live online/studio production, prints, scans, publications, conversations, datasets) which have the potential to exist separately or together as one work, where the life of the work beyond studio and exhibition becomes equally important. He is the recipient of the first ever Clore Visual Artist Fellowship (2016/17) from The Clore Leadership Programme.

David McLeavy is an Artist, Writer, Curator and Director who lives and works in Sheffield. He is currently the Director of Bloc Projects, Sheffield, Founder and Editor of the website YAC | Young Artists in Conversation, Co-founder of the international residency and exhibition programme Picnic Picnic, Sheffield and Co-founder of the sports clothing company Curbar Cycling. Recent projects include Means, Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, Moments of Zen, Turf Projects, Croydon, Try To Trust Me, STCFTHOTS, Leeds and Italian and British artists meet Milan N.2, BeatTricks, Milan.


Skelf is a virtual project space, accessible to anyone, everywhere.

Existing entirely online since 2016, we have presented work by over 120 artists and writers on our virtual platform. You can view these works in our archive. In 2019 we launched a series of eight quarterly group exhibitions, each presented by a different guest curator and accompanied by a podcast by Mark Beldan. You can listen, download or subscribe to the podcast below - or through your usual podcast supplier.

We are delighted to have been funded by Arts Council England and over the next two years will be working with artists whose work employs gesture, touch or movement and exploring how these physically-orientated practices could be translated into a virtual experience. New work will be on the site from Spring 2021.