InterGen Artlink Project

Inter-generational project at Room 13 Beatrice Tate

In 2012, Room 13 International has supported Room 13 Beatrice Tate in making a successful application to the Shadwell Trust. The grant from Shadwell Trust is being administered through Room 13 International to run ”Intergen Artlink” project, linking Room 13 Beatrice Tate with their surrounding community in Bethnal Green, east London.

The aim of the project is to draw together local groups that would otherwise not meet, to take part in creative and social workshops facilitated by artists Emma Conder and Bob Dawson.

Other outcomes of the project are to build the profile of Room 13 in the community and to start creating long term supportive and mutually beneficial links and relationships.

This is an inter-generational project involving young people from the Room13 studios in Beatrice Tate and and Old Ford schools and older residents from Gateway Sheltered Housing and Tower Hamlets U3A art groups.

In a series of with creative workshops, participants in the ”Intergen Artlink” project have been given the opportunity to express themselves through a range of mediums and techniques, including collage, print, drawing, poems, sculpture, books, through which they are encouraged to share and compare their cultural, generational and personal experiences, and stories about growing up and life in Tower Hamlets.

To date, both young and elderly participants have enjoyed dedicated workshop sessions in familiar territory, as well as being able to get out and about to explore the local area and coming together in unique spaces and times created for meeting and making.

Rather than impose themes, the artists have encouraged and facilitated the group to set the direction and pace of their creative enquiry. Sessions to date have involved working in sketchbooks, alone and in groups, getting to know and each other and be comfortable sharing work and ideas, collecting material and information about the local area and its history; memories; self portraits; and responding to music.

This project is ongoing, and will culminate in 2013 with an exhibition of the groups work inspired by their collective and individual experiences.

In their own words:

“At the start of the project the idea was to individually and collaboratively make work about the member’s collective experience and personal memories of Bethnal Green (London), the local area, and what it meant to the participants.

However over the course of the project it has become clear that these unique spaces and times created for meeting and making; are more about getting to know each other, to chat and to share, with the common thread of ‘creativity’ and ‘making’ as a constant presence and activity from the start.  The creation of art works and sharing in processes have become the foundations and the spring board on which the participants are connecting with each other and learning about each other.  The artists have adjusted the themes and focus of the workshops accordingly.

The first workshop in 2012 was all about meeting each other and showing our art work. In their own studio during preparatory workshops,  both groups had been working on sketchbooks and pieces about themselves and their lives. We had been collecting material and information about the local area and its history; memories and experiences, photos, actual things, sketches, word and rubbings. So people brought  pictures of themselves in as children, or brought in things or pictures of things that are important to them. In small groups or couples, however they naturally formed, we looked at each others work; talked about what it meant, or how it had been created, and shared a cup of tea and a beautiful spread of cakes! Some of the participants started to create collages from the materials that had been set out; working together.

Our second meeting was to be a joint group trip of the Senior art groups and children from the Room 13 Old Ford school, to a local exhibition of historical and recent photography of the area.  Both groups had sessions with the artists in preparation for the trip. The Old Ford Room 13 children had thought about the meaning of place, and about what home means; we did some collaborative mapping of their local area.  The seniors enjoyed the exhibition and were able to see the changes in the local area. Unfortunately The Old Ford School group were unable to join the trip at the last minute.

Our next session at Ruth Court had the theme of self portrait and use of clay. Each group had preparatory workshops practising to create clay busts, or enjoying the properties of the clay and experimenting with mark making and imprints. All the participants got stuck into creating sculptures straight away; chatting and helping each other.  Everyone was pleased to see familiar faces again; there was ‘banter’ and a real celebratory atmosphere! There were some interesting pieces created which were all photographed and the clay recycled.

Our most recent session in March 2013 was very soft and tranquil; as everyone appeared to be comfortable and at ease with each other. It also maybe have been due to the theme of the workshop which was music and responding through drawing and with our bodies. All the groups had been working creatively in response to sounds in run up sessions to the workshop; including the Old Ford young artists, who were unable to make the joint inter-generation session again.  For the workshop we hired a jazz singer and guitarist. While they played the group made marks, and danced with charcoal taped to bamboo lengths, on paper covering the ‘dance floor’ creating a collaborative and unending response to the music.

We are looking forward to the next meeting of our groups and excited to see how the relationships we are all developing will create opportunities for everyone in the future.”

Emma Conder
Lead Artist, Intergen Artlink Project.

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