BeesBlogs Talks To Sara Riccardi – Founder of Art Across

BeesBlogs talks to Sara Riccardi of Art Across

Sara Riccardi
Sara Riccardi – Art Across



BeesBlogs spoke to Sara Riccardi the face behind Art Across a project aiming to bring open discussion about modern art and its evolution from art history.

Born in Rome, Sara Riccardi, arrived in Manchester via Bath having completed her BA and MA in the History of Art at “La Sapienza” University of Rome. Living among some of the worlds great art providing opportunities to study first hand and in-depth the history, the methodology and the passion of the artists of the past.

Having worked as an assistant curator at the Fringe Arts Bath Festival, Sara moved to Manchester drawn by the prospect of working in one of the best emerging art scenes anywhere in the country.

Sara formed her company Art Across ‘in the strong belief that it should not be an elitist field, nor should it have an inaccessible language’. and, she is convinced that ‘precise and complex discourses can be conveyed in an audience-friendly way, and that the discovery of our immense artistic heritage can be an exciting and enjoyable experience’

Since arriving here Sara has been conducting talks with artists about their art, their motivation and the artistic references within their work. Most recently Sara spoke with acclaimed artist Mike Chavez-Dawson at Saul Hay Gallery in Manchester’s Castlefield district.

Sara’s next project will be at The Portico Library where she will deliver an eight session project – An Essential Art History starting on the 20th January. (click for more information) 

Sara Riccardi
Sara Riccardi with Mike Chavez-Dawson (artwork behind Mike by Susan Gunn at Saul Hay Gallery/)


Bee – You’ve made quite a leap from the art of Rome in the 15-18th centuries, to, it could be said, the complex contemporary, and vibrant, art scene here in Manchester. What was the reasoning behind your move here, why Manchester?

Sara – Well, family reasons brought me to consider the city at first, a bit more than a year ago. At the time I had been accepted and had a place into a course at a prestigious art market institution in London, starting in a few months, so I was taking my stay in Manchester as a short break before plunging into the art market world. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Having settled down, I realised how the contemporary art scene was thriving here, and found myself depicting in my mind ways of using my History of Art academic background to be a part of it. After some pondering, I was withdrawing my place at the course and focusing on making those depictions happen. I didn’t even have to decide I was staying in Manchester, then, it came as a natural consequence.

Bee – You recently started your own company, Art Across, with the aim of showing how understanding art across the centuries is relevant to today’s contemporary artists. How do you do this?

Sara – Art Across is the result of my first months here, when I knew what I had to offer and realised where I wanted to be, and had to find the best way to combine the two. I now conceive and deliver a variety of events, targeted to a variety of audiences, in a variety of venues, which always aim to encourage this dialogue among the centuries. Variety, and tailoring, are key aspects of what I do: art and its history can be looked at from so many points of view, and I enjoy exploring diverse possibilities. I can give talks, where I am the only speaker; run workshops, where the involvement of the group is the main focus; chair conversations, where I am one of the voices. I can do this at museums and galleries, artists’ Societies, educational institutions, artists studios, and I am sure there are other combinations I haven’t tried yet.

Sara Riccardi
Art Across’ ‘History of Art’ Delivered in Bath, at 44AD Art space

Bee –  Manchester has a growing number of mixed media, video, and installation artists. Can the past give relevant direction to these disciplines too?

Sara – This is a very intriguing question, and something I ask myself often. Unsurprisingly enough, yes, as an art historian I do believe that the past can be a relevant reference to these art forms as well. Clearly, it acts in a different way from the inspiration that ancient painting can have on contemporary painting, as today there exist media and technologies that simply did not exist in the past. Nevertheless, there are historical reasons behind the cultural revolutions that allowed the upsurge of innovative forms of art, and reflecting on why the art scene has widened its horizons so much, as challenging as it can be, can enrich our experience of the present. Additionally, certain processes behind the development of the arts can be recognised throughout the centuries, although applied to different contexts and media, and they somehow shape the development of these new arts, too. The knowledge of these processes is a transferable skill. Arguably, no transformation has been as radical as the happenings of the 20th and 21st century, and being able to measure the way arts have gone since ancient times is an invaluable thrill.

Bee – I’m sure you’re delighted to be bringing Art Across’ ‘Essential Art History’ series of eight events to Manchester’s iconic Portico Library in January? Are your events aimed solely at artists? Who do you consider are your target audience?

Sara – I am delighted indeed. The Portico Library is an incredible place and I am chuffed by the opportunity of hosting some events there. The eight sessions I will be offering form a series exploring the arts from the Middle Ages to the present, and it has been designed to suit different audiences, which vary depending on the venue: for instance, I will be delivering the series to the members of the Altrincham Society of Artists later this year, and in that case my approach is going to be tailored to a group of artists. At The Portico Library, the same sessions are open to everyone, artists and art lovers alike: I am hoping to attract a mixed audience. The sessions are interactive, there are moments specifically devoted to discussion, and hearing the point of view of today’s artists and art enthusiasts, as well as the historical one, will result in a multifaceted experience.

Bee – The events are a chronology of art through the ages. Is it necessary to attend all the events or is it possible to dip in and out according to the era which interests you most?

Sara – Participants definitely can dip in and out as they please! The series outlines an uninterrupted chronology, so those attending all the sessions will be able to appreciate the bigger picture at its best at the end, but the events also work independently. I have paid particular attention to keep them as self-contained as possible, as my main wish is to facilitate an experience easy to enjoy for my audience.

Sara Riccardi
Sara Riccardi at International 3 workshop in collaboration with Nicola Dale’s project ‘The Things That Look Back’

Bee – Lastly Sara, arguably a leading question, but what do you think of Manchester’s art scene?

Sara – It makes me want to know it more, and do more. I have spent the last months liaising with a number of artists and cultural institutions, and I feel like I have just scratched the surface. I find the artistic landscape of the city extremely exciting, with an increasing number of studios, galleries and events flourishing. I often find myself juggling between multiple events happening at the same time! Places such as AIR Gallery in Altrincham, Saul Hay Gallery in Castlefield or Paradise Works in Salford have all been opening over the last one and a half years, then there is Manifest, which came back for its second edition last July; these are just few examples of new realities, and to me they seem to indicate that Manchester is increasingly showing its love for the arts. I feel I’m just in the right place, at the right time.

My thanks to Sara for talking to BeesBlogs