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Posted on November 7th 2018
Peckham Levels Art Exhibitions and Workshops
The Centre for Creative Explorations at Harris Girls' Academy East Dulwich held its first funded event at Peckham Levels in October. The event was funded by Southwark Council as part of Black History Month 2018.
The exhibition was part of the Hairytage collaboration with artist in residence Alix Bizet. The Peckham Levels event saw various collaborations, events, discussions and art pieces evolve. Over five days we held 11 events with over 130 students participating. We were also open to the public and welcomed several people to the different events.
Hair, black identities and gentrification
The various workshops all linked with the themes that Hairytage has developed over the year’s collaboration, with its main concerns revolving around hair, black identities, gentrification, Peckham and regeneration. All of these themes were explored in various ways and have contributed to an evolving archive of Peckham, with stories and reflections all being woven into the Hairytage art piece.
Workshops were led by:
- Dr Nicole King from Goldsmiths University, who analysed black identities and the importance of hair in literary texts
- Contemporary artist Ben Nugent, who developed work around the ‘exhibition in a box’ archive called The Missing Chapter. This is an archive given to us by the Autograph Gallery, which shows people of colour living and or working in Britain during the 1800s. The students reflected on the stories from the archive and, inspired by Ben’s work, they reimagined the images and therefore what an archive is and how it can be remobilised. Inspired by the exhibition in a box, students interviewed people from Peckham, asking questions about how Peckham has changed and reflecting on what stories are heard and what stories are retold
- Louise Rondel from Goldsmiths, who led a Crafting Beauty Workshop exploring the relationship between the customer and the beauty salon, linking specifically to the current regeneration happening in Peckham and the impact this has on communities, such as hairdressers
- Alix Bizet, HGAED artist in residence, who led a session on her work and the Hairytage project (pictured below).
- Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson who led a poetry workshop exploring black identities, again feeding into the stories and personalities often forgotten in black histories
- Students also worked with artist Ria Addison Gayle, reflecting on her art work.
‘I love Peckham’ debate
The various conversations all came together during the launch event on the Saturday. This consisted of a ‘Debate Cake’ discussion session run by two Year 13 students who are both exploring gentrification. The title of the debate was ‘I love Peckham’, and the students used creative methods to explore gentrification in Peckham, past histories and hopes for the future. We had live embroidery using hair collected in the school and the local community to stitch the stories and thoughts from the workshops into what will become a garment that can be worn to retell the stories from the event.
A live map of Peckham was created again capturing the themes of the exhibition, and we held a panel discussion where Ria Addison Gayle, HGAED artist-in-residence Alix Bizet, Dr Camilla Stanger from Goldsmiths and Sandra Vacciana from Know Your Roots project were in discussion with Clare Stanhope, Head of Art, reflecting on the project, gentrification and the importance of having spaces to create and speak out.
The conclusion to the project will be a one-day celebration at the South London Gallery on 23rd November, where we will bring together all the strands of the research.
Clare Stanhope, Head of Art
More pictures from the event can be seen at the gallery below. Pictures taken by Luci Simpson, a former photography student at HGAED who has set up her own photography business. www.lucisimpsonphotography.co.uk