As a new Creative Kernow project, we thought would introduce you to our producer, Tonia Lu and to share the story behind the creation of Flamm.

Moved to Cornwall in 2017, Tonia arrived in Redruth after a 9-hour train journey from Cumbria, where she was working as a festival producer and was immediately fascinated by Redruth. She went on to support over 200 artists, makers, galleries and organisations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as an sector specialist advisor for Creative Kernow’s Cultivator programme.

‘Having worked in the arts in rural regions for most of my working life, including pursuing a PhD on this subject, I was excited by the way Cultivator was designed and developed – to shape a programme that meets the criteria of generic and economy driven EU/Government funding, as well as the development needs of the creative sector was not an easy task; and to convince the funders to invest £7.6m in what they would perceive as a single sector (the creative and cultural sector) was almost unthinkable from my previous experience in Scotland and Northern England. Making this happen requires a strong vision, commitment, tenacity – and of course, extremely hard work, and those are the qualities I came to recognise in the Creative Kernow team.

Photo from So You Know Where You Are Going? Event at Enys House, nr Penryn, Nov 2018. With exhibition featuring artists including Dean Knight and Jonathan Michael Ray.

‘I became immensely impressed and proud of the range of high-quality and ambitious work that is happening in Cornwall, and markedly aware of the challenges the sector faces. Towards the end of Cultivator Phase 1 in 2019 and inspired by events that explored the role of artists in society, I was certain that we needed to create more open opportunities for visual artists in Cornwall, inviting proposals that will bring art and people together.

‘Having witnessed festivals like Glasgow International and Whitstable Biennial playing a key role in providing opportunities, raising profiles and engaging communities, and with my background in festival production, I began conversations about setting up a new visual art-led festival in Cornwall as a legacy project for Cultivator Phase 2. I saw this as a chance to not only support the development of the sector, but also create more opportunities for exchange between the visual art sector and our communities in Cornwall.

Photo from Common Place symposium in Redruth, July 2019. Instigated by artist Sovay Berriman.

‘Although Covid-19 put a halt to things temporarily, Cultivator continued to experiment with ways to raise profiles of visual artists including leading projects such as Synesthesia, and funding development initiatives like Stile and Keskorra. As we emerged from the pandemic, I was in conversation with Art Night’s Artistic Director Helen Nisbet about developing opportunities for artists, when the Shared Prosperity Fund and its Major Cultural Event strand was announced. What was originally a residential development project bringing together Art Night artists to Cornwall to work with artists locally, emerged into Flamm: an opportunity to present Art Night commissions with newly commissioned work by Cornwall based artists.

‘Flamm is planned as an event that will move to different towns in Cornwall with each iteration – and it will serve as a showcase for the creativity and community of the host town as well. We chose our home, Redruth, as our starting point so we can focus on making sure we present the best quality programme as possible, with the links we already have with the communities here.

Polaroid taken at the Banksy exhibition at Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, June 2023, as part of the ‘Team Flamm”s visit to Art Night Dundee. Photographed are Patrick Lowery, Tonia Lu, Rachael Jones, Sovay Berriman & Liam Jolly.

‘The Redruth community has been incredibly generous in supporting and being part of Flamm, and we will be proudly presenting a wide range of projects led by the people of Redruth in our programme alongside the commissioned projects.

‘We can’t wait to share more details of the programme soon.’