“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.
13.00 – 14.30 Tuesday 1st December
“Does ArtWash or does ArtWork?”
Loraine Leeson in debate with Stephen Pritchard on artist involvement in community-led visioning
ACTIVE ENERGY: COMMUNITIES COUNTERING CLIMATE CHANGE by Loraine Leeson.
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.
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 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.
Following the installation of a new wheel in the Olympic Park, Active Energy is featured once again in The Environment magazine.
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.
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.
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
Nearest tube: Stratford
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.
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.
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.
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.
Following the launch of their floating water wheel at Three Mills, an interview with Loraine Leeson and the Geezers was featured in the February 2019 edition of The Environment magazine.
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.”
A one-day seminar in Bristol
Culmination of an AHRC funded arts-community network project between UK and India addressing water scarcity in rural Rajasthan
9:30 for 10am start – 4:00 pm
Friday 5th October 2018
Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd
Bristol BS1 4RN
This one-day seminar will reflect on the potential and role of the arts and creative practice to address critical global challenges:
- Where and how artists are engaging with social and environmental issues.
- The challenges, opportunities and implications of accessing and engaging vulnerable individuals and communities through the arts.
- How community-based arts can contribute to improvements in the welfare of those living in tenuous conditions.
- Interdisciplinary challenges associated with bringing together science and arts perspectives in addressing critical social and environmental issues.
Presentations by Michael Buser, Loraine Leeson, MS Rathore, Nina Sabnani,
Anurupa Roy and Neelam Raina
FREE, but places are limited
For further information contact Michael.Buser@uwe.ac.uk
In a chapter entitled Water Power: Creativity and the unlocking of community knowledge Loraine explores the role of art in this process, its role in making meaning and bringing together the ideas, people and concepts that enable innovation. She also looks at those processes of creative facilitation that draw out ideas and generate the inspiration whereby the hands-on experience of communities can be brought to bear on issues that affect all our lives.
Picture collages or political weapons?
Artists Peter Kennard and Loraine Leeson with writer David Evans will be discussing all things photomontage – exploring the history, techniques and effects of photomontage, from darkroom collages to digital manipulation.
A Four Corners archive event for anybody interested in the art of protest, radical culture or community activism.
6:30 PM – 8:30 Thursday 20th September 2018
121 Roman Road
London, E2 0QN
On 1st July 2018 BBC FOUR broadcasts the first programme in a documentary series celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS. It focuses on people’s memories of the health service, and include an interview with Loraine Leeson. It also features the posters on health issues she produced with Peter Dunn in the 1970s. Some of these were in support of the campaign to keep Bethnal Green Hospital open, while others were produced with members of health workers’ unions for East London Health Project to warn people about the impending cuts to services at that time – one of these posters celebrated 30th anniversary of the NHS. A retrospective exhibition of this work was held at the ICA in May 2017.
25th June 2018 saw publication of Loraine’s article Our land: creative approaches to the redevelopment of London’s Docklands in a special editon of the International Journal of Heritage Studies edited by Katazyna Kosmala: Intangible heritage and post-industrial waterfront zones: Ways of seeing.
Large-scale re-development of post-industrial sites can easily railroad over the needs or wishes of its existing inhabitants, or at best involve them in peripheral consultation. However, when a community is highly organised and also collaborates with others to gather expertise and develop effective means of communication, it has the ability to re-envision a future that can meet the needs of all concerned. In the 1980s The Docklands Community Poster Project engaged with a cluster of waterfront communities, which embraced the arts in influencing the regeneration of the London Docklands. Close collaboration between local people, activists and artists led to a range of interventions implemented over a ten year period that included a series of large-scale photo-murals, travelling exhibitions, initiatives and events such as the People’s Armadas to Parliament and the People’s Plan for the Royal Docks. The article makes an argument for how and why art can be an effective tool in social transformation and highlights its role in documenting and making visible the intangible cultural heritage of the communities it serves.