Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Barbican Art Box 2019

Last night I was proud to launch out publication The Art of Collaboration which was made as part of the annual Barbican Art Box project. I took part as a zine artist and editor last year and was invited back this year as an artist working closely with 3 schools in collaboration with OOMK, Sahra Hersi, Rosalie Schweiker, and Aleesha Nandhra.

The art box project is run each year with The Barbican in conjunction with schools who are partnered with selected artists.  Each school is given a box of tools, materials, books, and inspiration points relating to the Barbican exhibition Modern Couples.

The schools are invited to the exhibition and had an introduction session with Sofia Niazi from OOMK looking at zine making, sharing information, and collaboration. The artists then visit the schools for a series of workshops using the tools and ideas inside the box to create artworks on this theme.

It's been an amazing experience and I got to work completely out of my comfort zones. I host zine making workshops all the time, but this required me to do a lot more. I worked on creating collages and zines of course,  but I also hosted workshops on screenprinting, banner making, and also created  live art with a Bauhaus inspired geometric improvised ballet!

This was my favourite part I think - just having a play and seeing what we could come up with. I had my first visit with The Garden School to discuss my ideas for the project and was fresh out of a union meeting at my day job where I had just been made an official union rep. I decided I wanted to explore the ideas of collaboration by forming a union because you are never to young to learn about unions and there is a power in a union.

We created a factory assembly line in the classroom where students were seated in a line, and during regimented timed slots would print geometric shapes onto strips of fabric which were then passed down the assembly line for the next person to add their prints. By the end we had created a collection of fabric strips which became our uniform. We wore them as hoods, sashes, skirts, t-shirts and broke from the assembly line, rising up in unison before then breaking formation and performing a live improvised dance piece.

The Garden School is a special education school and my group included children of mixed abilities with autism. This level of collaboration required a lot, and the level of energy and trust and enthusiasm in the group was overwhelming. It meant that the level of work we ended up producing was just nothing we could have predicted, it was sophisticated, fun, and went beyond any other workshop I'd ever done. It's such a shame that the results of these incredible sessions didn't make it into the final publication. The live dance pieces and costumes we made were some of the best things I've ever been part of and I'm so ridiculously proud of what we achieved.

I also worked with Stoke Newington School where we created protest banners and placards, mini zines, and explored the ideas of counter culture and self publishing, as well as working with pupil referal unit New Regents College where we created collaborative collages, manifestos, and mini zines.

The publication is now available in the Barbican shop with a year long exhibition of our work in the Barbican cinema cafe.