National Festival of Making invite public to take part in largest ever exhibition of the nation’s hobbies

Members of the public are invited to take part in The Hobby Cave, the largest ever exhibition of the UK’s hobbies. From makers and modifiers to crafters and collectors, the National Festival of Making with Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, alongside award-winning artist and Spider-Man enthusiast Hetain Patel and Artangel, is inviting audiences to share details of their hobbies to inform a nationwide project that will take place in 12 locations across the UK from Summer 2024, including at the National Festival of Making.

Thousands of unique hand-crafted objects loaned by hundreds of people will go on display, with contributions invited from hobbyists such as costume and cosplay makers, crocheters and knitters, wood carvers and model makers, ceramicists, robotics engineers, origami specialists, augmented car enthusiasts and many more.

The Hobby Cave, which has been commissioned by arts organisation Artangel, will celebrate the millions of people across the UK who dedicate their spare time to activities they are passionate about. It will explore how individuals express their identity, character and creativity through their favourite pastimes. The inaugural exhibition will open in London in July 2024, followed by curated presentations at partner venues across the UK throughout 2025.

At the heart of the project is a new film by Patel, which explores the outstanding creativity and passion that people put into their hobbies. The film adopts the artist’s trademark style of combining high-end cinematic production with scenes from the everyday to showcase ephemeral pastimes and handcrafted objects in a visual language usually reserved for Hollywood films and luxury advertising.

Hetain Patel said: “I’ve always been obsessed by handmade things. Growing up in Bolton, in a working class culturally Indian household, we ate with our hands, and many of my relatives worked as part of the manual labour force in local factories. The empowering thing about hobbies is choice, and doing something on our own terms. The creative act is really hopeful, with huge benefits to us individually and something that connects us to others regardless of our differences.”

Mariam Zulfiqar said: “Hetain Patel’s work has always invited us to reflect on identity as multidimensional and complex. For The Hobby Cave he generously extends an invitation to people around the country, asking them to share the objects, activities and pastimes that form part of their identity. The ambitious presentation of hundreds of objects loaned by as many hobbyists creates a new kind of picture, where people and their identities are seen beyond national, racial, gendered or age related categories that conventionally categorise who we are.

“Artangel is working with a network of leading arts and cultural organisations to realise this ambitious project across the UK and supporting one of our most exciting artists working today to create an exceptionally memorable and inclusive project.”

Elena Jackson, Director, National Festival of Making said: “We are delighted to be part of this ambitious national project led by Artangel, and to collaborate with Hetain Patel, a visionary artist who shares our passion for all things making in the UK. This project will showcase the rich and varied hobbyist culture that exists across the nation, and inspire more people to discover the joy and benefits of creative hobbies. We can’t wait to meet the many hobbyists in Blackburn and further afield, and celebrate their work at the National Festival of Making in 2025.”

Hetain Patel is an award-winning British-Gujarati artist and filmmaker. Much of his practice is derived from his childhood hobbies and interests, including his lifelong passion for Spider-Man. In 2013, the artist created his first sculpture, Fiesta Transformer, when he converted his car into a real-life Transformer robot with the help of his father. The Hobby Cave is Patel’s most ambitious and far-reaching project to date.

National partners include Factory International, Manchester; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool; Museum of Making, Derby Museums Trust; National Festival of Making with Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery; Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Barnsley Civic; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; CCA Derry~Londonderry; Hospitalfield, Arbroath and Tate St Ives.

The public can submit details about their hobbies via artangel.org.uk/mapping-our-hobbies   

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