Spaces of HOPE: The Hidden History of Community Led Planning 2021-24

Spaces of Hope aims to produce the first sustained history of community-led planning in the UK documenting the diverse and previously hidden ways in which people have come together to care for the future of their local environments and exploring what their efforts mean for contemporary approaches to planning and participatory place-making.

The project will draw on a number of case studies including the campaigning in the London Docklands in the 1980s to achieve a development that would meet the needs of local people.

Project Team

Dr Sue Brownill, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Andy Inch, University of Sheffield

Professor Geraint Ellis, Queen’s University of Belfast

Dr Francesca Sartorio, Cardiff University

Dr Loraine Leeson, Middlesex University

Professor Glen Stewart O’Hara, Oxford Brookes University

The Art of Healing in Kashmir: how creative activities can support child wellbeing in areas of conflict 2021-22

Kashmir is the centre of both a geopolitical struggle between India and Pakistan and an indigenous independence movement, one of the most militarised areas in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 people have been killed and everyday life is marked by the presence of military, curfews, stone-pelting and demonstrations. Children are particularly vulnerable in militarised areas and healing trauma is central for sustainable peace.

Katkatha Puppet Trust and Vikramjeet Sinha are delivering arts-based activities and Arts Based Therapy (ABT), including drama, visual arts, and puppetry to children in Kashmir to help them manage anxiety, anger and PTSD. Evaluation of use of the arts to improve mental health is often lacking and research is being conducted with children attending the Dolphin School in Pulwama, Kashmir. This will evaluate the potential for the arts activities and arts-based therapy to support the mental health and wellbeing of children affected by conflict.

Art of Healing web site.

The project has also built a website for the school and children to exchange ideas on an ongoing basis. Kalakar Qasbah is a protected site where participants can freely post and develop their thoughts and creative work.

Research team

Michael Buser (UWE) – community resilience; arts-led research

Loraine Leeson (Middlesex) – socially engaged arts practice

Emma Brannlund (UWE) – gender, International relations, Kashmir

Nicola Holt (UWE) – mental health, conscious experience, Art Based Therapy evaluation.

Julie Mytton – (UWE) child public health, children’s participation in research, evaluation of public health interventions.

Sara Penrhyn Jones (Bath Spa) – film / film-making

Celebrating ‘ Feminist Art, Activisms and Artivisms’ on International Women’s Day 8th March 2021

FEMINIST ART ACTIVISMS AND ARTIVISMS edited by Katy Deepwell examines different art practices through discussions on identity, gender, power structures and politics and contributes to dialogues between feminist thought and activism in relation to visual arts

See inside

A chapter by Loraine Leeson The Things That Make You Sick discusses her 1970s work on the Bethnal Green Hospital Campaign and East London Health Project .

WEAD SELECTED ARTIST

December 2020

Projects can gain longevity if they are rooted in community and not subject to the overarching constraints of commissions or funding bodies. Through supporting concerns identified by senior citizens in East London,  Active Energy has been able to address urgent ecological issues and discover new ways that crucial local knowledge can have an effect both locally and with a constituency far beyond its own borders.” – Dr. Loraine Leeson

cSPACE director Dr. Loraine Leeson has worked with communities through the visual arts for over forty years, creating artworks and initiatives in the public domain.

New article in Women Eco Artists Dialog

ACTIVE ENERGY: COMMUNITIES COUNTERING CLIMATE CHANGE by Loraine Leeson.

WEAD MAGAZINE ISSUE No. 11
WOMEN ART POLITICS

The article outlines the development of the  Active Energy project and the organic way in which such projects can gain longevity if they are rooted in community and not subject to the overarching constraints of commissions or funding bodies. Through supporting concerns identified by senior citizens in East London,  Active Energy has been able to address urgent ecological issues and discover new ways that crucial local knowledge can have an effect both locally and with a constituency far beyond its own borders.

Chapter in Culture Community and Climate

Loraine and the Geezers contribute to a book edited by Richard Povall of art.earth that asks how can we cross disciplinary boundaries in relation to a question or idea. The book also explores transculturalism: professional disciplines have their own cultures and ways of thinking and working, but even in this globalised world, so do individual nations and ethnic groups. All of these cultural languages play into our work: this book examines how culture, practice and language can intermingle to create new projects that explore real-world questions.

Chapter in Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms

Chapter by Loraine Leeson on The Things That Make You Sick.

When the closure of Bethnal Green Hospital was announced in the late 1970s, its medical staff occupied the site and continued to care for the patients. The chapter describes the making of a video, posters and exhibition for that campaign, followed by visual materials produced with health workers’ unions for the East London Health Project to inform the public on the potential effects of the impending cuts in health services.

Communities Countering Climate Change

On 20th September 2019, as millions of school children, workers and trades unionists across the globe commenced a week of action for climate justice, the Active Energy project celebrated how older and younger people have come together to work for environmental change in their community.

The event was held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, close to where the water wheel is located. It was opened by Paul Brickell, Executive Director for Regeneration and Community Partnerships at the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Continue reading

Students making a difference at Middlesex University

On 12th September 2019 masters students following the specialism in art and social practice led by Loraine Leeson and Alberto Duman exhibited the results of their study in the MA graduate shows.

Wendy Charlton, Alison Lam, Dorottya Szilagyi and Natalia Talamagka have focused on topics as diverse as the regeneration of a North London housing estate, carer experience of autistic children, the recycling of plastic and survival strategies for victims of domestic violence. The media on which they have drawn  has included film, photography, live events, sculplture, installation and app design. Tragically the MA Art and Social practice that was supporting these students, has been discontinued by the university for financial reasons. However social practice work at Middlesex continues through other specialisms such as MA Fine Art.

Active Energy: Olympic Park

2-4pm Friday 20th September 2019

Loraine Leeson and The Geezers invite you to celebrate their latest venture in the Active Energy arts project. A floating water wheel has been installed close to the London Aquatics Centre in the Waterworks River to drive an aerator that will help counteract the effects of pollution on the river’s fish and wildlife. Meanwhile pupils from Bow School have constructed their own working models of turbines using designs suitable for the generation of renewable energy.

The Last Drop
5 Thornton Street, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2AD

Close to the ArcelorMittal Orbit
queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk
Nearest tube: Stratford
Map

Pupils create turbines for sustainable energy

Pupils at Bow School, East London have been taking part in workshops led by engineer Toby Borland as part of Loraine Leeson’s Active Energy project.

They were supported by members of The Geezers Club from AgeUK Bow, who have been a central part of this project for the last twelve years – it was their idea to find out how the River Thames and its tributaries could be used to power their community. Students from the MA Art and Social Practice at Middlesex University also assisted.

The young people’s working models will be on display at a public event to be held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on the afternoon of Friday 20th September. Watch this space for details.

Active Energy in the Olympic Park

On 4th July 2019 an Active Energy floating water wheel was installed in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London.

 

This is the latest initiative of the Active Energy project led by artist Loraine Leeson with members of the Geezers Club from AgeUK Bow. With the help of engineer Toby Borland they have developed different schemes over a period of twelve years, which demonstrate how sustainable energy can be used to support their community.

The floating water wheel can be seen in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between Thornton and Iron Bridge, where it has been installed to help the survival of fish and wildlife. In certain weather conditions sewage finds its way into the river, where it uses up oxygen and can cause fish to die. Lock gates along the river are raised intermittently to allow water to flow, and at these times the wheel turns, driving air into the river.

Collaborations and alliances in Barcelona

On 30th May 2019 Loraine Leeson gave the keynote address at the Aliar-se conference in Barcelona, which explored how collaborative artistic practice could begin to inform cultural policy in Catalonia.

The conference was organised by Ramon Perramon and Montserrat Moliner and supported by CONCA, Catalonia’s National Council for Culture and Arts.

The objectives of the conference were as follows:

  • To analyse artistic practices as a mechanism for organisation, and at the same time for political and cultural action, assembled through collective participation.
  • To advance a cross-sector view which moves beyond professional sectorial specificities.
  • To generate debate regarding issues related to artistic production in collaborative and participatory assembly-constituted processes.
  • To bring other perspectives which may enrich cultural policies.

Loraine spoke about lessons learned from her own art practice and introduced the work being done by Arts for Labour to inform cultural policy in the UK.

Culture Declares Emergency

cSPACE declares a Climate and Ecological Emergency We pledge to work with and support our community and local government in tackling this Emergency, and we call on others to do the same.

THESE ARE OUR INTENTIONS
1. We will tell the Truth
We will communicate with citizens and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.
2. We will take Action
We will actively work to imagine and model ways that our organisation can regenerate the planet’s resources.
3. We are committed to Justice
We will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our communities about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed.
DECLARATION ENDS

MA Art and Social Practice – first graduation

Highlights from the first MA Art and Social Practice graduation show at Middlesex University.

 Feedback from Allan Struthers:
”Congratulations on teaching/facilitating such a great cohort. The students I spoke to last night are incredible.”

Jenny Dunn’s project was excellent, her selection of what to show from an embedded position felt well distanced enough from her own personal experience and perspective for it to function at this secondary level of reading as a tactful and highly moving piece of social representation.

The experience of getting caught up in its latent utopianism was a beautiful one.
I mean this in the sense of how it prompts the viewer (in this case, me) to imagine the possibility of every estate having someone who’s principle occupation it is to make, take, and implement suggestions about how the quality of life can be raised.
It’s a work that demonstrates what I’ve heard autonomists and anarchists talk of as ‘radical care’, and insofar as the narrative’s content prefigures a future society freed from the determining force of capital upon social relations, the image given is politically hopeful.”

Hydrocitizenship 2014 – 17

Hydrocitizenship was an AHRC-funded project which investigated and contributed to ways in which communities live with each other and their environment in relation to water in a range of UK neighbourhoods.

This 3 year project investigated and made creative contributions to the ways in which citizens and communities live with each other and their environment in relation to water in a range of UK neighbourhoods. The research asked a series of questions about what communities are, how they function, and the role of environmental (water) assets and issues in the coming together of communities, conflicts within and between communities, and progress to interconnected community and environmental resilience.

Active Energy: Three Mills formed part of the research in the Lee Valley.

Research Team

There were teams in Bristol, Lee Valley, Borth & Tal-y-bont (mid Wales) and Yorkshire, involving altogether eight universities.

Principal Investigator: Professor Owain Jones (Bath Spa University)

The Lee Valley Team was led by Professor Graeme Evans (Middlesex University)

Artist/consultants: Dr. Loraine Leeson and Simon Read (Middlesex University)