‘Digital Embroidery’, Paula Roush

The ‘Digital Embroidery’ project aim was to develop a participatory project with offender-learners in the art & design programme run by Amersham & Wycombe College at HMP Pentonville, as part of the government’s offender learning initiatives to transform the skills and employment prospects of prisoners when they leave jail. The course at H.M.P. Pentonville provided work related training in the areas of machine sewing and embroidery. The participants under Paula Roush’s guidance, worked with the software programme of the prison’s computerised embroidery machine. Machine embroidery is the use of a computerised embroidery machine to automatically create a design from a pre-made pattern that is in-putted into the machine. Learners used specific software to create their own designs and patterns.

All works in the exhibition developed out of a series of workshops with Paula Roush, resulting in the design and production of 2D projects, which integrated visual arts with the medium of digital embroidery. The participants looked at the pre-historic evolution of embroidery from tattoo and body art through the prism of current counter-culture; and explored images of architecture and subjective elements of custodial experience, including representations of the panopticon, to images of cells and the body. The themes explored also related to the motto of ‘making more people better off’ and the prison services’ goal of reducing repeat offending.

‘Digital Embroidery’ was commissioned by HS Projects in 2006 and was funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

‘Crossing The Street’, Shiraz Bayjoo

‘Crossing The Street’ brought together a diverse mix of local Cable Street residents and businesses. Cable Street is a rich environment ranging from the industrious past of the docks and the 1960’s railway overpass, to the tower blocks and 18-century Georgian mansions. The community is equally diverse and has seen great change over the last 100 years, from the anti-fascist riots of the 1930’s to the post war waves of immigration and gentrification.

The project brought together residents and businesses who answered an open call sent out by Shiraz Bayjoo in-conjunction with Wilton’s Music Hall. The participants engaged in a series of photographic workshops experiencing different photographic techniques to explore their personal and common identities, bringing together a greater sense of their community and life along Cable street.

The photographs comprise personal objects juxtaposed with domestic and work spaces, daily routines of work and play. The participants have added to the social history of the area by including their own chapters to the story through their photographs of their own lives and the area as they see it.

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

The project ran from July to December 2011.

‘Shifting Representations’, Judy Price

‘Shifting Representations’ was a three-month workshop with participants from the vibrant Somali community in partnership with the Somali Integration and Development Association (SIDA). The participants worked with photography and photoshop to explore how they could shift representations of their community, which is often portrayed in the media only in relation to war and violence.

In the first few sessions the participants spent a lot of time discussing the kinds of images that are perpetuated in the media about Somalia and Somalis and how they could change this and show another side to the Somali community. They then looked at image making and work by a number of artists including: Yinka Shonibare, Shirin Neshat, Cindy Sherman, Raeda Saadeh, Pablo Picasso, Sonia Boyce, Gilbert and George, Johannes Vermeer, Zineb Sedira, Frida Kahlo and Ellen Gallagher. They were also introduced to the digital software Photoshop and its creative potential for both enhancing images and the fabulation of images. The project brought together a range of diverse approaches to thinking about the Somali community through documentary and fabulation.

The project co-ordinator for SIDA remarked that ‘Shifting Representations has been one of the best and most unique projects for the centre. It has created a new environment for thinking through images and changed the way the participants view their surroundings as well as making visible their huge potential creativity’.

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

The project ran from July to December 2013.