Intro: Anni Raw

I’m one of the group of 3 researchers based in the UK who have started this exciting conversation – this project for sharing understandings and perceptions of how spaces of creativity and collaborative arts can catalyse change: creative spaces of transformation.

The project is based at the University of Leeds, in my department: the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. I myself have had a nomadic work life, underpinned by creativity, music and arts, change, people and groups, humanitarianism, and concern for social justice. My practice is now as a researcher exploring ways to understand and communicate about complex arts practices within social contexts; as well as developing ways of supporting reflective practice within arts organisations. I spent 10 years as a singer and a community musician; my motivation was to challenge perceptions, inequalities and injustice through song, have a fantastic time making music, and encourage ‘communities’ of optimistic, powerful voice, for change (political, social, personal, community…) – and activism.

I will post some of the ideas behind the questions this project has raised – and invite everyone on this blog to contribute thoughts, experiences, practical examples, in whatever language is most comfortable… the questions we start with will develop with everyone’s input… can’t wait for that to happen!

And we will begin to share some of our experiences from the meeting in São Paulo in September, attended by 20 of us from Brazil, the UK and Mexico…

Intro: Eleanor Barrett and Rosie Freeman, Brick Box

Hi everyone, excited to be a part of these discussions! My colleague Eleanor and I are artists and co-directors of The Brick Box. We’re an arts organisation and social enterprise based in London but working across the UK, particularly in Bradford (where we collaborate with people like Chemaine and Lou who are also part of this group). Our work is always live and aims to empower people to take part in arts and cultural activity in underused spaces. We’re interested in the journey people go on when they engage imaginatively. We often work in places which are considered to be undesirable in some way and have produced work in loading bays, markets, services lifts and many other places…I could go on forever but I’m going to share some images and maybe a video or two to give a sense of Us!

A gathering during our recent Electric Fireside project in County Durham. We were working with different groups in the district, formed around suicide prevention. This group was mainly ex-miners and the event was in the garden of their social centre. During the course of the evening we shared food, stories and company.

Some photos from our recent Little Light Nights project which comprised of 4 site responsive events in Bradford and London, all with interactive light-related artwork, music and dancing. The events were all in public realm spaces which we consider to be underused community assets.

One of the Little Light Night events:

British Art Show 8

by Sarah-Jane Mason

Hi everyone – I have a question for all those socially engaged artists/activists/academics on here…

Recently I was asked to develop workshops involving children and the British Art Show 8, an exhibition of contemporary British Art currently showing at Leeds Art Gallery.

I am mid way through the series and so far things are going well. The main thing that I found challenging about planning and delivering these workshops was trying to marry my ideals with those seen in the contemporary art world today.

Luckily for me Martino Gamper’s piece for the show ‘Post Forma’ is a participatory artwork which sees close collaborations between local artisans and craftspeople, the artist and the public. It aims to explore art as a social activity that brings people together and also raises questions about our consumerist society and ethics/social conscious as individuals.

However, if that piece had not had been there I’m not sure how connected I would have felt my practice or indeed myself as an artist was to this show and therefore how I could honestly engage others in work around this exhibition.

Have other’s had similar experiences and if so what have you done to resolve, expose or work with the feelings of conflict?

About Potency and Potential

by Anni Raw

The project is called ‘Potency and Potential of creative connections in interstitial spaces: Learning from Latin American perspectives’ and is AHRC funded, for just a year (until March 2016, so less than a year) but we hope to build on it somehow if it shows ‘potential’.