A project with teenage Bengali girls from Bow, East London exploring the theme of their experience of living in two cultures, resulting in a 16 x 12ft (4.8 x 3.6m) photo-mural and touring exhibition.
Digital montage displayed as a 16 x 12ft (4.8 x 3.6m) photomural. Produced with pupils from George Green’s School in East London. Working with a group of culturally mixed teenagers, the project dealt with issues of culture and identity, commonality and difference in an inner city area fraught with racial tension.
Public artwork on Fanshawe Avenue/Longbridge Road roundabout Barking, London involving over three hundred children.
Where are you going, and what do you wish?
The old moon asked the three.
We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we…
Four-projector tape-slide production and exhibition co-authored by Loraine Leeson and Karen Merkel that explores the importance of culture in the lives of five women from diverse backgrounds. The artists worked through the Women Against Fundamentalism group in London to reach women who had suffered under fundamentalism in their family lives.
Awakenings, after Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection was a Tate Gallery commission exhibited at the Millbank site from 1995-96. Digital montage produced with pupils from George Green’s School in East London, displayed as a 14ft x 7.5ft (4.3m x 2.3m) cibachrome print.
Alpona panels and beadwork hangings created with women and children from East London’s Bengali community, combining traditional skills with digital processes. The panels inspired design of the Jagonari Asian Women’s Centre cafe, where they were put on permanent display. Collaboration with Language 2000.
An ‘artists in schools’ residency programme, which gave training and support to six recent graduates who wished to develop their art practice within an educational context. Collaboration with the University of East London and the Tate Gallery.
Commission by the Royal London Hospital for research and development towards the refurbishment of its main entrance. Proposals were produced for permanent and temporary artworks to create a welcoming and comfortable environment reflecting the needs, concerns and cultures of the hospital’s main users and communities. Collaboration with Anne Thorne Architects.
Interactive illustrated story produced with input from over three hundred East London junior school children. Crossing the IT, Literacy and Art areas of the curriculum, the project developed an online creative resource for schools. Collaboration with artist Camille Dorney.
Visit the Infinity Story…
A period of Arts Council funded research exploring the creative and learning potential of the National Grid for Learning – a government initiative which equipped all schools with computers and laid down guidelines for the involvement of ICT (information and communications technology) in the delivery of most subjects in the new National Curriculum. This research was key to the development of the VOLCO project.
Download the Unlocking the Grid report
Ten years of cultural campaigning with the communities of East London around issues arising from the development of the London Docklands. Production of photo-murals, exhibitions, photographic documentation, graphics and events.
Collaboration with Peter Dunn and a team involving graphic designers Sandra Buchanan and Dini Lallah, administrator Belinda Kidd and contributions by Tony Minion, Sonia Boyce, Donald Rodney, and Keith Piper.
The area now known as the London Docklands extended eight miles downriver from Tower Bridge, its most western point, to the Royal Docks in the east, and was described by developers as the ‘largest piece of real estate in Europe’.
The photo-murals were developed in response to the request from community representatives for large posters to represent the key issues affecting the redevelopment of the Docklands.
The artists’ initial consultation with local groups had encountered a repeated request for a photographic record of the many campaigns taking place across the Docklands area. This became a central activity of the Poster Project, and an archive of their b/w negatives is still held by the artists. The colour transparencies are held by the Museum of London Docklands.
Initial redevelopment issues in the Docklands began at the western end of the designated land. The Royal Docks at most eastern extremities were left largely untouched throughout most of the eighties. However one major development for this area was put into motion. This was to be a new airport for London, whose runway would use the stretch of land between these docks, and surrounding areas for airport buildings and parking.
As with all these developments, local people had not been consulted. The area was renowned for its lack of amenities, jobs and transport, while most residents were squeezed into shabby tower blocks in urgent need of rebuilding. An airport would meet none of these needs, save a few jobs for ground staff and cleaners, and certainly not the kind of transportation so urgently required.
Silvertown residents, like others in Docklands, were highly organised – a necessity for survival in such challenging conditions. A key activist in this area was Connie Hunt, renowned for pouring hot soup over Winston Churchill, following unwelcome sexual advances when she was sent to wait on him as a young girl. On hearing of the Development Corporation’s plans for the airport, the activists of Silvertown created their own organisation, the People’s Plan Centre, which found premises in a local shop, staffed by volunteers.
They approached the Greater London Councils’ new Popular Planning Unit for support. This unit had employed some key political strategists on its staff, including Sheila Rowbotham and Hilary Wainwright (co-authors of the early social feminist book ‘Beyond the Fragments’). Hilary took on the Royal Docks case, joining the Joint Docklands Action group and Docklands Community Poster Project as collaborative partners. The DCPP designed posters, provided a shop sign and promotional board for the centre.
Members of the People’s Plan Centre carried out their own research and consultation, gained expert input and finally drew up a comprehensive document. This detailed how the same area of land could meet local needs including those of housing, childcare, the elderly, shopping facilities, transport, leisure and recreation, education and health. The Plan addressed the means through which this approach would create jobs and boost the economy while providing the local resources so urgently needed.
DCPP designer Sandra Buchanan designed the lengthy proposals into a visual and accessible illustrated , and LB Newham had it posted through every letterbox in the area. There was no comparison between the social benefits of the airport proposal and those of the People’s Plan. Silvertown residents were successful in achieving a public enquiry, which upheld their plan instead of that for the airport.
However the London Docklands Development Corporation London were answerable only to central government, a power that had been created by a special act of parliament by the Thatcher government. They did not have to take on the recommendations of the enquiry, and the airport went ahead.