‘Changing Forms’, Judy Price

Pupils from Shacklewell School worked with lead artist Judy Price to create images that explored ideas around transformation and alchemy. The starting point for ‘Changing Forms’ was an investigation into talismans, amulets and ideas around protection. A visit to the British Museum provoked and stimulated the pupils prior to making their own talismans from clay.

Following an introduction to a wide range of images by contemporary artists exploring transformation, the pupils went on to create their own images and narratives, exploring transformation and things they would like to protect. The children were asked to think about their hopes and desires for themselves, their families and the world at large and how an amulet or talisman might affect their dreams, desires and fantasies.

An important aspect of the project was opening up a space for the children’s imagination, fantasies, hopes and desires. The ideas ranged from a super hero or prophet-like figure bringing rain and food to deprived areas of the world, to children singing and breathing over one of their peers transforming her into a butterfly. One child explored animal-becoming while another found rest and respite in a shell from his family’s homeland in Montserrat. A Dream Catcher catches good dreams and wards off bad dreams for one child becoming her talisman and pink roses are given magical powers to bring back life to a sleeping girl in a project devised by two pupils.

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

The project ran from January to June 2007.

‘Translating Spaces’, Anne Harild

‘Translating Spaces’ was a project with inhabitants from Drapers City Foyer in Bethnal Green, East London. Drapers City Foyer is a place that offers supported accommodation for young Londoners aged 15-23, who need the support to enable them to get their lives back on track and move on to independent living.

The aim of the project was to explore the place where the young people live and take the building as a starting point for a visual journey. Using animation and photography, the participants investigated the Drapers building, exploring its visual language and the individuals’ identity within this place. They used materials and form they found there as building blocks and translated this information into new works of art or versions of this environment, exploring ideas related to place and ideas of living and dwelling in contemporary Britain.

One of the main ideas they explored during the project, was the idea of ‘translation’, not in the traditional sense where one language is translated into another, but rather in an intuitive process led manner where they let the physical environment direct their ideas and where the works became curious and investigative visual translations of the environment, making visible otherwise overlooked qualities of this place.

Suggestion was also something which the participants explored in many variations, looking at how an almost abstract form can suggest the idea of shelter as well as being just a collection of lines. They worked with drawing in many different experimental ways, drawing with line three-dimensionally in space as well as drawing with water on a large scale within the environment. Drawing was also the basis for most of the films as they used it as a way to document and investigate the place, these drawings became the foundation and the raw material for the works.

Thinking through making, directed most of the works and the participants let the materials form their ideas, responding in an open way. This process-led investigation was essential for all the works as they became documents of a process, capturing the creation of an artwork over time. Time was important and seems an essential subject for all the participants who are living in temporary accommodation for an unknown duration. Working with animation, all the works are time based but they also explored this idea consciously, letting the works document and capture a process and a series of artistic decisions made over a period of time.

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

The project ran from January to June 2014.

‘Wish List: London?’, Pat Kaufman

‘Wish List: London?’ explored the wishes and desires of a group of young adults at the Downside Fisher Youth Club, in the London Borough of Southwark.

‘Wish List: London?’ focused on developing basic photographic skills whilst also building up a sense of group cohesion with everyone working towards a common goal. The project helped establish the participants’ identity and revealed the variety of photographic skills available to the group.

Early on in the project a theatre director and musician came along and led the group in exercises designed to teach them how to catch movement and focus on still life. The participants also looked at framing and capturing the ‘story’ in an image and, as the project progressed, the participants went on to create their own story lines of their own wishes and identities. What emerged was something beyond individual wishes or desires.

The group devised their own addendum to the original title. They agreed that their work collectively offers a portrait of the unexpected and unusual aspects of London. Hence, for them ‘Wish List: London’ became ‘Wish List: London?’ Throughout the workshops, the participants were exposed to additional sources of inspiration including both contemporary and historical photography and artwork and a visit to Tate Modern.

‘Wish List: London?’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from October 2011 to March 2012.