Turf Projects gallery on Keeley Road, Croydon, 2015. Photo Jim Stephenson

After graduating from BA Fine Art: Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts, Alice Cretney started her career in the Arts. Living and working in Croydon, she was frustrated at how little support there was for local artists. So she founded TURF Projects, the first entirely artist-run contemporary art space in the area. 

Alice Cretney installing artwork 'Sunshine' by artist Sam Cotterell for 'Fungus Press' poster project in Croydon's public realm, 2015

Alice Cretney installing artwork ‘Sunshine’ by artist Sam Cotterell for ‘Fungus Press’ poster project in Croydon’s public realm, 2015

I realised I wanted to study art from a couple years into secondary school. An art foundation teacher in Bristol suggested I look at Wimbledon as a place to study. I was keen on studying in London and Wimbledon seemed like a good choice being fairly small and with great studio space.The best part of studying at Wimbledon was meeting some really amazing people, many of which I’m still in contact with today. 

'Putt Putt #2', an exhibition at Platform, East Croydon curated by Alice Cretney and David McLeavy, 2014. Photo Jim Stephenson

‘Putt Putt #2’, an exhibition at Platform, East Croydon curated by Alice Cretney and David McLeavy, 2014. Photo Jim Stephenson

Tell us more about Turf Projects and how it all came about?

Founded in 2013, Turf Projects is the first entirely artist-run contemporary art space in Croydon, South London. Turf Projects are a charity organisation working to support the development of artists, curators and the public through an ambitious programme of free exhibitions, workshops and events. Turf now comprises; a gallery space exhibiting work from emerging & established artists; an artists workspace & events space; and an affordable studio provision for artists & makers.

Turf Projects came about through the meeting of other creative and community focused people whilst living in Croydon during and after graduating from Wimbledon. I had the idea to open a space for people to create and showcase work, whilst being rooted within the communities I had gotten to know through living and working in here. Finding an appropriate space to create Turf’s gallery & studios took some time. Prior to opening the gallery, workspace & studios on Keeley Road, myself and the team of co-founders all with a connection to Croydon got together. We curated our first two projects in the public realm and one in collaboration with Croydon School of Art, whilst also running a regular workshop for a group of adult artists with learning disabilities under the name ‘Club Soda’.

Workshop with local school working with Turf Projects towards an Arts Award 2017. Photo Turf Projects

Workshop with local school working with Turf Projects towards an Arts Award 2017. Photo Turf Projects

What do you love most about your job?

Working for Turf is great, it’s really interesting to meet lots of people and artists that come through the doors. Although it can be challenging, it’s never dull. It’s great being able to work alongside some really talented, generous and committed people and having the support there from our Charity Board of Trustees when we need it is really vital in helping the organisation grow. 

'WAVES' Exhibition opening night performance by artist 'Will Pham', 2016. Photo Turf Projects

‘WAVES’ Exhibition opening night performance by artist ‘Will Pham’, 2016. Photo Turf Projects

What advice would you give to UAL alumni who have just graduated and want to get their work noticed?

Approach galleries or project spaces whose programmes are interesting to you. Send them an email to see if they take proposals for exhibitions, or see if you can drop by to introduce them to your work. Work with artists you’ve studied with or people you know already, and don’t wait around for shows that have already found space – find your own…

'Trojan-Home'-exhibition-at-Turf-Projects,-a-solo-exhibition-of-work-by-Polish-artist-Honza-Zamojski,-2016

‘Trojan-Home’-exhibition-at-Turf-Projects,-a-solo-exhibition-of-work-by-Polish-artist-Honza-Zamojski,-2016

How can TURF help local artists?

Croydon-based alumni can check out Turf’s exhibitions, workshops and events. For recent graduates who are interested in meeting new people and sharing/ getting advice on their work/ work in progress I recommend coming along to our monthly ‘Lunchtime Artist Crits’, and our ‘Groundwerk’ series of workshops for artists to help develop their practice. Past Groundwerk workshops include; documenting artwork, art handling and transportation, writing applications for funding, exhibitions and projects.