Beaconsfield was founded in 1994 by artists David Crawforth, Angus Neill and Naomi Siderfin with the aim of providing a streamlined resource for the development and presentation of contemporary art and a desire to “fill a niche between the institution, the commercial and the ‘alternative’”.
In 1995 Beaconsfield was awarded charitable status and took the lease on the former Ragged School in Newport Street, Vauxhall, opening the refurbished building to the public in September with the signature live commission, Plein Air: a public-facing exhibition-residency with Dresden artist Mattias Jackisch, in the company of 19th century painter Felix Ziem.
Beaconsfield acknowledges its responsibilities as a maker, promoter and facilitator of the arts, as a potent channel of communication. Beaconsfield understands the arts as guardian of free speech, diversity of expression and democracy and regards its work as contributing to this principle. Artistic policy promotes dialogue locally, nationally and internationally and reflects London’s diversity by representing a variety of cultural positions.
Beaconsfield puts into practice its belief that sustainable energy and global parity are principles of utmost importance by working with recycled products where possible, running a café using Fairtrade products and recycling its waste. The venue has been running on alternative energy since 2000 – probably the first and only arts organisation in London (perhaps the UK) to be powered by 100% green electricity.
Beaconsfield’s artistic agenda was initially developed from that of its predecessor Nosepaint. Co-founded by Royal Academy Schools graduates David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin, Nosepaint was an interdisciplinary art event held on a monthly basis between 1991 and 1994. Nosepaint worked with several hundred artists, emergent and established, over this period, with audiences of thousands. This experience combined with the expertise of Angus Neill – now Director of Felder Fine Art – formed a vision for the new organisation Beaconsfield: ‘to offer a space for artists and audiences to experience high quality (hence ‘beacon’), challenging, new artworks in a wide range (hence ‘field’) of contemporary visual art media through commissions, group exhibitions, performances, publications and events’.
Beaconsfield continues to be directed and curated by David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin who also make artworks under the moniker of BAW (Beaconsfield Art Works).