Social Resource Project for Tennis Clubs is a solo exhibition by artist Stephen Willats.
A pioneer of international conceptual art, Stephen Willats has spent six decades concentrating on ideas that today are ever-present in contemporary art: communication, social engagement, active spectatorship, and self-organisation.
During the early 1970s, while living in Nottingham and teaching at the Nottingham College of Art and Design (now Nottingham Trent University), Willats began several interactive projects exploring the relationship between artist and audience, and people in private and public space. Social Resource Project for Tennis Clubs (1971/2) saw him work with four tennis clubs in the city – all socially, economically and physical separate – with the idea of uniting different social groups within a shared process.
This exhibition features artwork and archive materials from Social Resource Project for Tennis Clubs, on loan to Bonington Gallery from Nottingham City Museums & Galleries. Accompanying it is a new film and photographic series created during the artist's recent visits to the original tennis clubs, and work produced during Willats' early years in Nottingham that proved influential to his subsequent career.
A restaging of the Tennis Tournament that happened at the conclusion of the original project, taking place on the launch day of this exhibition, Saturday 8 October 2022. Stephen will work with members of The Park Tennis Club to re-model the game of tennis based on their reasons for joining the club - using this site and experience as a simulation of a transformed society.
Image: Stephen Willats, Tennis Super Girls, 1971/72
© Stephen Willats
Courtesy the artist