JAL! – a one-day seminar in Bristol, October 2018

Culmination of an AHRC funded arts-community network project between UK and India addressing water scarcity in rural Rajasthan
https://rajasthanwater.weebly.com/

9:30 for 10am start – 4:00 pm
Friday 5th October 2018
M Shed
Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd
Bristol BS1 4RN
https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/

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

REGISTER HERE

FREE, but places are limited

For further information contact Michael.Buser@uwe.ac.uk

JAL! Celebrating Cultures of Water in Rural Rajasthan 2017-18

An AHRC funded project in collaboration with social scientist Dr. Michael Buser at University of West of England and Dr. Manohar Singh Rathore, Director, Centre for Environment and Development Studies, Jaipur.

The project explores how participatory arts practice can contribute to increased understanding of, and present solutions to, water scarcity in Rajasthan, India’s driest state, where environmental scientists have been struggling to get across this information. Puppeteer Anurupa Roy of Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust and artist/storyteller Professor Nina Sabnani from the IDC School of Design Mumbai, worked with villagers in the desert regions. The aim was to retrieve and re-introduce into the villages local knowledge on water conservation that had been lost for a generation. Nina Sabnani engaged traditional painters from the Shekhavati region to produce a mural and a travelling scroll to re-tell its story of water harvesting and how this could be revived.

Anurupa Roy worked with children who liaised with grandparents to produce a shadow puppet show to take around schools to inform local communities.

 

 

Chapter in Water, Creativity and Meaning

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.

Photomontage Then and Now

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
Four Corners
121 Roman Road
London, E2 0QN
Map

REGISTER HERE
free

The NHS: A People’s History on BBC FOUR

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.

Loraine Leeson on the London Docklands

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.

ABSTRACT

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.

Art as Social Action

In May 2018 Art as Social Action: An Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Teaching Social Practice Art was published by Allworth Press, New York. It contains a chapter by Loraine Leeson and Alberto Duman on Experience as Art: Fine Art Social Practice at Middlesex University, which draws on their experience of teaching the MA Art and Social Practice and BA Fine Art Practice at Middlesex University.

The book is edited by Greg Sholette and Chloe Bass who teach one of the few masters courses on this topic at Social Practice Queens, City University of New York with an aim of gathering together knowledge available to support teaching in this area.

With content arranged thematically around such topics as direct action, alternative organizing, urban imaginaries, anti-bias work, and collective learning, among others, Art as Social Action has created a comprehensive manual for teachers about how to teach art as social practice. Along with a series of introductions by leading social practice artists in the field, valuable lesson plans offer examples of pedagogical projects for instructors at both college and high school levels with contributions written by prominent socially engaged artists, teachers, and thinkers.

 

Book Launch

 

symposium and conversation on art and social change

6.00-8.30pm, Friday 2nd March 2018

Four Corners
121 Roman Rd, London E2 0QN
http://www.fourcornersfilm.co.uk

Join Loraine Leeson for the launch of her new book where key artists, activists and writers will lead a conversation on the role of art in social change

Ailbhe Murphy
Dr. Ailbhe Murphy is an artist and Director of Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in Ireland. Create is a resource organisation for artists working cross art form and in collaboration with diverse communities of place and of interest. Ailbhe is also a founding member of the interdisciplinary art and research platform Vagabond Reviews. www.create-ireland.ie

Jane Trowell

Educationalist, artist and longstanding member of Platform, an artist-led, London-based collective that brings together artists, activists, researchers and campaigners who collaborate to make work on social and ecological justice. Jane Trowell’s work particularly focuses on pedagogical and social process. https://platformlondon.org

Hilary Wainwright
Widely published researcher and writer on new forms of democratic accountability and driving force/editor behind Red Pepper. She has written for many publications including The Guardian, and makes regular television and radio appearances. A member of Arts for Labour, her forthcoming book A New Politics from the Left is soon to be published.

Kerstin Mey
Professor Kerstin Mey is the newly appointed Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Engagement at University of Limerick and previously Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design. Kerstin’s research is concerned with the ‘situatedness’ of art, its underlying value hierarchies and public pedagogies.

With video interventions from:
Conrad Atkinson
Known for his visual art that challenges the boundaries between art and politics, Conrad Atkinson has been described as ‘one of the most important fine artists in the world who specialize in social and political concerns’. He is also Professor Emeritus of Art and Art History University of California at Davis, Distinguished Visiting Professor/Artist in Residence of the Courtauld Institute and Honorary Fellow of Cumbria University.

Javier Rodrigo
Researcher and art educator based in Barcelona who has developed projects and collaborative exhibitions on dialogical practice for cultural institutions throughout Spain and writes on the subject of community, cultural policy and education. Javier has also been the coordinator of the pedagogical-cultural project Transductores.

New article by Loraine Leeson on Cultural Democracy

 

Loraine Leeson explores the idea that art is a vital part of civilised society and should be a method of self-expression for everyone rather than the privileged few

https://mdxminds.com/2018/01/04/cultural-democracy/

Workshop by The Common, a collective of students studying Art Practice and the Community at Middlesex University. Photo ©Kerri Jefferis

Cultural democracy is not new, but rather an idea that has found a newly conducive context. This is much to do with the growing belief amongst younger generations that change is necessary and that they can and will make it happen

London Community Video Archive

On 9th August 2017 the London Community Video Archive went live. Its aim is to preserve, archive and share community videos made in the 1970s/80s in London Portable video recording — now a technology routinely embodied in smartphones — became available for the very first time back in the early 1970s, making it possible for individuals and communities to make their own television. The medium was taken up by people ignored or under-represented in the mainstream media – tenants on housing estates, community action groups, women, black and minority ethnic groups, youth, gay and lesbian people, and the disabled. With an overriding commitment to social empowerment and to combating exclusion, ‘Community Video’ dealt with issues which still have a contemporary resonance — housing, play-space, discrimination, youth arts.

The archive contains the video Emergency created by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn in 1974 in support of the campaign to keep Bethnal Green Hospital open. It also hosts an interview with Loraine that outlines how the making of this video became an important touchstone for her subsequent socially engaged art practice.

 

 

Lambeth Floating Marsh

 

This art/science collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson and biophysical chemist Nithin Rai aimed to support biodiversity on the River Thames. Reed beds were constructed along the hull of the Tamesis Dock barge, situated opposite Tate Britain between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, the site of the original Lambeth Marshes. The initiative promoted the ‘greening’ of the shored up banks of the river, while providing a sheltered habitat and monitoring station for river organisms. It will also served as a pilot for how biodiversity conservation may be expanded along the inner city reaches of urban rivers. Visitors were able to connect to the project web site via their phones to observe recent activity and learn about the issues affecting biodiversity conservation in the Thames. In September 2015 images of these organisms were projected along the embankment.  The work was funded by the Western Riverside Environmental Fund, which re-directs revenue from landfill tax for environmental purposes.

Biodiversity and the Tidal Thames

The Tidal Thames is a recovering ecosystem of great ecological importance and the Estuary supports a diverse flora; rich populations of invertebrates; 121 species of fish and many internationally important aquatic birds.

In 1957 however the River Thames was declared biologically dead with water quality so poor that it could not sustain life. Since then the river has undergone a massive transformation, water quality has improved, and wildlife has returned. Nevertheless long stretches of concrete flood defense walls on the Thames are still preventing plant growth and the invertebrates that thrive in healthy riverbank habitats.

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