Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC) is based at Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland. VARC funds and manages an on-going programme of long term (up to twelve months) residencies for visual artists and projects with special schools.
Through the residencies it aims to offer opportunities to artists to develop new work in response to the remote rural landscape and its community and to offer benefit to the community and visiting groups in engagement with art and artists, through contact and creative activity.
It also aims to benefit young people with special needs, particularly those with autism spectrum condition, through creative projects with artists.
An important part of the resident artist's remit is that they work on projects with local people and visiting groups. This takes many forms; open studio days, workshops, talks and participation in country shows are a few.
VARC's programme is based at Highgreen Manor in Tarset owned by Cynthia and William Morrison-Bell. Highgreen is also the home to Highgreen Arts thus creating a hub of creativity in this rural and remote part of Northumberland.
Further details, including news on the current artist in residence, special projects and the local projects fund are on the VARC website:
Photograph: Imi Maufe, interactive performance about colour association at Falstone Show using locally made Unison Colour's handmade artist's pastels in an unconventional way, 2008. Maufe created an artist's book from the material collected
Photograph: Susan Grant, 'Babel', 2005 brings together the individual and collective voices of local people and the energies of the Tarset community in a piece appropriately made for Highgreen Manor's old Battery Shed used to store the electricity to serve the Manor (now a derelict outbuilding). Susan used the original glass battery acid tanks and shelving as part of a piece that allowed visitors to experience recorded interview extracts with inhabitants of Highgreen about community living on the estate. In this confined space the piece really resonated with the captured sense of place and community.