Poppy Fordham, a 3rd year History of Art student, has set up Sensi, which gives visitors a chance to engage with art in a relaxed and social atmosphere.

“The idea started when I wanted to put on an art exhibition and, due to the expense of renting a venue, I would have had to charge for tickets,” said Poppy, “I knew a lot of friends would be unwilling to spend money on admiring contemporary art - something many of them see as elitist.”

So the seed for Sensi was planted. And after a trip to Cuba, where Poppy visited Fabrica de Arte Cubano in Havana – which merged a cinema, art gallery and club space all in one building – Poppy decided to set up something similar in Edinburgh. “I really think the visual and audio benefit from their interaction with each other,” said Poppy

Sensi has had two sell-out events at The Caves in Edinburgh. “The main room was a dance space with light installations on the walls and a projector showing films. Next door we had a more typical art exhibition space with canvas works and photographs. And dotted around the venue we had installations, including some 'live art'. This included one ECA artist drawing portraits of the revellers which were then hung up.”

With the events having so many elements, they take a lot of planning, including leasing the venues, managing the social media, sorting out tickets, marketing, booking DJs and curating the art. “The first event was really testing out the idea, but with the second I aimed to perfect the curation and had the artists work towards the theme of visionary experiences,” said Poppy, “Many of the artists study at ECA and I tried to meet them individually, take them around the space, and discuss their piece.”

“Putting on these events gives me such a sense of purpose and achievement. Many people questioned whether the form of the night would work, or were confused about the concept,” said Poppy, “but one of the highlights for me is the number of people who come up to me after the events to say how they engaged with art in a way they never had before.”

“My aim is to change the way people perceive art and to show it outside of the gallery context, to reach a broader audience. And when I leave university I hope to take the Sensi idea even further.”

Poppy plans to take Sensi to Bristol on 25 April 2018, and perhaps London over the summer. The next Edinburgh event will be at The Caves on Thu 4 October 2018.

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