cSPACE uses the visual arts and digital media to support communities in their expression of vision and aspiration, bringing the benefits of direct experience into the public domain and supporting social change through cultural activism. Projects are collaborative and/or participatory, and build on local and international networks to create artistic initiatives that are deeply rooted and at the same time wide in reach, incorporating trans-disciplinary expertise from professional and academic sources as required.
Established in 2002, cSPACE is a registered charity building on more than four decades of community-based arts and media practice by its founding director Dr. Loraine Leeson, including her work in The Art of Change (1991-02) and the Docklands Community Poster Project (1981-91). Over its first decade cSPACE created a number of long-term projects including VOLCO, a planet in cyberspace founded on co-operative principles and created by over a thousand children; The Catch gateway public artwork for Barking town centre involved the whole pupil cohort from a nearby junior school together with a mentoring scheme for university and college students.
In 2012 The Young Person’s Guide to East London, produced with hundreds of teenagers from the London boroughs hosting the 2012 Olympics, which received the Olympic Inspire Mark and a Media Trust Inspiring Voices award. In 2015 Lambeth Floating Marsh in collaboration with scientist Nithin Rai, supported biodiversity along the shored up banks of the Thames in central London. Current projects include Active Energy with The Geezers, a group of older men in Bow East London, who are investigating renewable energy for their community, and together earned the RegenSW Arts and Green Energy award for 2016. In 2017 Loraine’s work from the 1970s produced in collaboration with Peter Dunn and East London health workers’ unions, was exhibited at the ICA London, a return to that institution after first being shown there in Lucy Lippard’s Issues: Social Strategies for Women Artists in 1980.
Loraine’s book Art:Process:Change – Inside a Socially Situated Practice published in 2017 offers a glimpse into the practice of these four decades from a practitioner’s perspective.