Richard Warburton – Creative Director

Rich is a collaborative and empathetic leader with 20+ years experience making, developing and programming artists. He is committed to enabling new ideas and alternative approaches to art making to flourish.  Well versed in helping artists interrogate their ideas, ensuring people are able to make the work they really want to make.

His work has ranged from large scale international work to experimental installations that fall into a number of categories, including digital and live public art and performance.

How long have you been with IOU and what has been your highlight?

‘About three weeks! So as new as they come really. However prior to joining I already had the privilege of seeing Sound Wave Collider at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Wheel at Thrift Festival. Accompanying Jason Singh’s Sound Walk as part of the installation at YSP was a real luxury,  getting a window into how he sees and interprets sound using the landscape around him was both joyful and enlightening.

The full team have been very welcoming and just getting to spend time with David and chat about the work, his ethos and particular ideas has been brilliant. Everything I’ve engaged with so far has been pretty inspirational, the spaces, the people, the Calderdale landscape, there’s nothing not to love.’

Tell us about your professional journey before joining IOU?

Fairly early on in my career I gravitated towards making interactive and site specific work. Starting out at Slung Low in the early 2000s making work that encouraged audiences to encounter work in alternative ways. I moved on to co-found Invisible Flock in about 2009. One of the early pieces we made was ‘Bring the Happy’ that really kick started making work with direct public engagement/interaction. It cemented my ambition to make work that had meaning to the here and now, exploring ways of presenting ideas that would hopefully resonate in different ways with the audiences that encountered it.

I was simultaneously drawn to the usefulness of engaging with technology to help make or present art in different forms or guises. This included making work directly for mobile platforms. I also was fortunate to have the opportunity to create interdisciplinary works at scale and internationally and this allowed me to encounter more and more amazing people who continue to influence how I think about creative work.

In 2017 I joined Theatre in the Mill in Bradford as Artistic Director and developed new ways in which an arts organisation could support, develop and advocate for artists. The breadth of who we worked with and how we worked with them was enormously fulfilling  and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to offer direct and useful support to some incredible artists making fantastic new work.

When the current role was advertised I saw the possibility to take all of my past experience and enthusiasm for supporting new ideas and a broad range of artists and apply it to the development of the IOU Creation Centre. I’m still trying to articulate everything that makes IOU so unique but it really is the best opportunity I could imagine.’

Tell us about any stand out productions or exhibits you’ve experienced that left their mark on you?

‘Too many to really narrow down but I think the throughline through all the work that has inspired or left its mark are those that have impacted the ways in which ideas, stories and thinking can be presented and shared.

They range from Spectacle at scale (LipSynchFuerza BrutaFuture Cargo) to personal (SaltTrojan HorseFirst Time and Life is no Laughing Matter) through to the surprising and inventive (BackUpFrom Here to EarThe Believers are but Brothers)

I like to be caught off guard, it’s why the work of IOU really resonates with me, it’s always intriguing, playful and is generous with the space it gives their audiences and participants to find or discover their own place in it.

Perhaps what I most enjoy though is the opportunity to engage with work while it’s still in that fragile, embryonic state where the ideas are still fizzing around. When I get invited into the space where everything’s in play, often that’s the most exciting place to be.’