‘development’ on world in one city – artist training programme

The ‘World in One City’ project explores themes surrounding cultural identity, place, heritage and feasting. Bringing together food and clay, throughout the weeks, the Burslem Jubilee group have reflected on the new community they have found themselves within. The participants have also been learning some of the history of Stoke-on-Trent and have developed new skills in ceramics. The Jubilee Group represents 40-60 adults living in the city who await decisions on their visa or immigration/asylum status. I am working on this project as part of my Artist In Training Programme with the British Ceramics Biennial and Arts Connect.

After reflecting on the group’s needs and how the artists work whilst considering these needs, I am now giving consideration to how the artist’s practice can be discussed with the group appropriately, and the parallels between participatory needs and how the artist works.

The Burslem Jubilee is a vulnerable group of people. With the journeys and experiences that they could have been through, it is incredibly important to always consider this when we are developing work. Whilst making work which could challenge people’s perceptions and attitudes towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, it is important to create work that demonstrates this, yet stays appropriate and provides a safe place for people to learn new skills within a new community.

Whilst working with the group, Joanne Ayre uses discussions about food and culture to inform the work created ,and tailors to the groups needs by making conversations comfortable and considerate. Whilst working alongside Joanne for the past few months, it is clear that her way of engaging is inspiring to participants, and the participants motivate her in return. This shows through the work created, and is extremely important in participatory practice, especially when working with vulnerable groups.

I feel very grateful to be part of such a wonderful project. Assisting Joanne with her work has been really insightful and inspiring for the improvement and movement of my artist practice. I have learned a great deal from her work methods and her communication skills, with all the people involved in the group. Her work is explorative yet tailors to the groups needs. Working alongside Jo, and the participants themselves has been a fantastic experience.

 

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