’14:30’, Faisal Abdu’Allah

HS Projects commissioned ’14:30′, a collaborative project between Faisal Abdu’Allah and the Pembury Estate Youth Club. The title of the project, ‘14.30’, was taken from the distance (14.3m) Nadia Williams (New Delhi Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist, 2010 and number 2 in England) had to jump to be included in Team GB for the 2012 Olympics and came about in discussion with the young people, who found Nadia’s challenge something they could relate and aspire to in the challenges they face.

‘14.30’ was a collaborative project whereby the content is shaped by the participants’ experiences, encouraging them to look at their own identity through the lens that focuses on an athlete preparing for London 2012, identity, home and the concept of community.

‘14.30’ was a project that chronicled two parallel journeys. Seven young participants from Pembury estate in Hackney were encouraged to look at their own identities through the lens of portraiture and social engagement. The broker that enabled them to map their cerebral thoughts was Nadia Williams. Nadia Williams took time from her Olympic qualification schedule to train the young people in the art of triple jumping. With this rare access, they witnessed, participated and soon realised their own ambitions could be achieved through determination and dedication.

Through a series of workshops, Faisal Abdu’Allah enabled them to assemble ideas, take portraits and place themselves at the core of their chosen works like a signature. Conscious of how society perceives ‘young guns’ from the Hackney estate, they clearly wanted this challenged. The final works were selected by a rigorous edit process that reflects the transition in the young people, as a result of their interaction with Williams.

The colour palette reflects the GB colours, each triptych is a metaphor for a Beginning, Middle and End, just like the Triple Jump. Screen printing the work by the young people at the London Print Studio, immediately changed their relationship to their work. More importantly it changed their perception of the process of making ‘Art’ for the rest of their lives. Knowing how to think, compose, scale, colour and physically print, really splintered their own understanding of how art is made. Opposed to clearly being of a generation that prints immediately via dry technologies.

’14:30′ was funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from January to June 2012.

‘Journeys Through Sight’, Judy Price

HS Projects commissioned ‘Journeys Through Sight’ a collaborative project between Judy Price and Toynbee Hall. ‘Journeys Through Sight’ was a digital photography project working with women from the Deesha (Bangladeshi) community that combined photography and English learning. The project participants produced images that relay the colours, tones, environment and people that live in their surrounding neighbourhood of Aldgate East and Brick Lane. The images give an insider’s view of an area that is increasingly objectified through the gaze of the city worker, tourist, night clubber or even the artist and enabled the women to communicate new representations of their community and daily lives.

A presentation of artists working with photography and a visit to local galleries INIVA and Autograph (specialists in photography and art collections focused on contemporary art from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the work of British artists from different cultural backgrounds) gave the women a starting point for the project. It enabled the women to think about the power and potential of an image and different ways of portraying communities and their environments, as well as connecting with public spaces in their area that they might not usually consider.

For many of the women this was the first time they had used a camera or taken photographs in the public space. They responded to the project with great enthusiasm and, as their technical abilities, in terms of composition and interest in subject matter, developed, so did their confidence and relationships with each other and the surrounding area.

The project encouraged the women to think imaginatively about their environment, both internally and externally exploring both their domestic and external environments at the heart of the Bangladeshi community here in London.  It enabled them to communicate their representation of their community and daily lives.

‘Journeys Through Sight’ was funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from July to December 2009.

‘Song Vessels’, Julie Myers

‘Song Vessels’ was a collaboration between the Jagonari Women’s Centre and artist Julie Myers. ‘Song Vessels’ investigated the role of song in the development of memory that is shared between all cultures and encouraged the celebration of parenting, diversity, heritage and aural tradition.

Working with a group of Bengali women, ‘Song Vessels’ highlighted the significance of song in children’s early years and investigated the role of song in the development of memory. Its process involved making audio recordings of parents’ or grandparents’ voices; and saving them for their children to listen to in the future. We all have photographs of our parents and grandparents and ‘Song Vessels’ provided family members with a similarly evocative mnemonic through recorded voices in song. ‘Song Vessels’ encouraged the celebration of parenting, persity, heritage and aural tradition though song.

Babies can hear sounds from around the twenty fourth week of pregnancy. The mother’s voice is described by Russian Pediatrician Michael Lazarey as an ‘acoustic bridge’ between the cocoon of the womb and the outside world.  The English word ‘Lullaby’ comes from the late 1500s and combines two words ‘lulla’ and ‘bye’, two words specifically used to calm children. Source: Lory Stamper, Marriam-Webster.

‘Many lullabies are very basic, with just a few words repeated again and again. Wherever you go in the world, parents use similar tones and the same sort of way of singing to their babies. As well as helping a baby to sleep, lullabies have an educational purpose and serve as a comfort to children and parent.’ Sally Goddard Blyth, Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, interview with Nina Perry, BBC world service (2013).

Workshop participants were encouraged to bring songs, photographs and objects that reflect parenting and childhood experiences. In the workshops session the group learned and exchanged songs and poems in English and Bengali, working with Roshi Nasehi, a professional singer-songwriter, and made audio recordings of individual and group singing sessions. The workshops offered training in the use of digital cameras and sound recording equipment and an experience of how a contemporary artist works within a community.

‘Song Vessels’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from April to September 2013.