COLLECTIViSM #10, March 2017
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY EDITION
EMPURPLE WEEK 6TH-12TH MARCH 2017
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT? The Haven Wolverhampton
Empurple means ‘to colour or become purple’ – and that is exactly what we want YOU to do for Empurple Week by hosting purple-centric fundraising activities. Purple is the International recognised colour for campaigns raising money for Domestic Abuse. Purple symbolises justice and dignity - two values strongly associated with women's equality. Furthermore, the week is globally recognised as International Women’s week and so welcomes celebrations across the globe.
The Haven Wolverhampton was established in 1973 to provide emergency accommodation to women and children suffering Domestic Abuse and homelessness. We have a 24 hour emergency helpline, community outreach, criminal justice support, children and young people’s services, resettlement programmes, benefits and debt advice and more.
In the UK, 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Abuse during the course of their lifetime. 2 women a week are killed by their partner as a direct result of domestic abuse. 12 women a year are murdered due to honour killings in the UK.
The 8th March is International Women’s Day and is the third day of our week of celebrations. The day itself is a celebration observed across the world each year and recognises the cultural, artistic and social achievements of women, past, present and future.
BY EMBRACING EMPURPLE WEEK, YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING THE VULNERABLE WOMEN AND CHILDREN AT THE HAVEN WOLVERHAMPTON AND HELPING US RAISE MUCH NEEDED FUNDS TO HELP THEM REBUILD THEIR LIVES FOLLOWING DOMESTIC ABUSE.
There are so many things you can do. Why not host a ‘wear purple to school or work day,’ have a purple cake sale or host a quiz on all things purple? Any event, big or small, will go a long way in raising awareness and improving the lives of women and children affected by Domestic Abuse in Wolverhampton.
#EMPURPLEWEEK17 #EMPURPLE @THEHAVENWTON #IWD17
CONTENTS #10, March 2017
5 # 6 # 8 # 10 # 11 # 12 # 13 # 14 # 16 # 17 # 18 # 19 # 20 # 24 #
Editorial Amanda Bevan
Why International Womenâ€™s Day Matters Emma Purshouse
Wolverhampton Based Performance Poet Maria Billington
Gatis Community Space Navi Aulkh
Love My City Project Komlaish Achall and Hannah Taylor
Profiles of Local Curators 01 Komlaish Achall
The Partition of India Ann Walker
Wolverhampton Camera Obscura Kelly Jackson
Kelly's Smile Tonia Daley-Campbell
Daring 2 Be Me Annemarie Wright
Right to Education Anna Smith
One Nice Thing Hannah Boyd
Ghost Dinner Party
25 # 26 # 27 # 28 # 29 # 30 # 32 # 34 # 36 # 37 # 38 # 40 # 41 #
The Quiet Revolutionaries Samantha Pitfield
Wild Bytes Cafe Fliss Kitson
I'm in the Band Agata Wasiewska-Altintzoglou
First Among Equalsâ€™ Michelle Anne Sleigh
Petals' Group Hope Community Project Kelly Jeffs and Susan Murray
Kelly Jeffs and Susan Murray Kate Penman and Parastoo Duffett
#Our Shared Futures Kate Penman
Hope for our future Laura Onions and Julia Foster
Profiles of Local Curators 02 Anna Smith
New Art West Midlands 2017 Megan Reece
Finding my Voice Again Karyne Tazi
Women and Families Resource Centre Abbie Dunne
The Horror of Trafficking
Mind the Gap #
EDITORiAL COLLECTIViSM cont.. Edition 10*
Collectivism is an arts, community and social action magazine. Our last edition in September 2016 was dedicated to sharing the vision of the collective group, Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary. It highlighted the ongoing work by community and faith groups, charities and artists in providing welcome and celebrating refugee and migrant contribution within Wolverhampton. In November 2016 Wolverhampton Council approved the decision for Wolverhampton to be an official City of Sanctuary. In Edition #10 Collectivism honours International Women’s Day and the inspiring women of Wolverhampton. It is an opportunity to celebrate the many female led initiatives and projects throughout the city that are positively impacting our
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR: KATE PENMAN
communities and changing perceptions of Wolverhampton. In inviting only women to submit articles and artwork, Collectivism looks specifically at the influences, achievements and challenges of women in Wolverhampton. International Women’s Day publicises the unresolved, global issues affecting women directly. Wolverhampton’s independent charities do fantastic work supporting women and families affected by these issues. We ask that you support their fundraising activities and events. (See upcoming events, back cover) Similarly the independent cinema, Light House, and Newhampton Arts Centre run by female directors are vital to the community and the city’s cultural identity. With recent funding cuts, continued support is essential.
CO-EDITOR: ANNA SMITH DESIGN: JULIAN GWINNETT
*This edition was funded wholly by crowdfunding. We would like to thank everyone who has donated to make Collectivism possible. Our next edition will be on mental health. [www.crowdfunder.co.uk/user/penmankate/dashboard/collectivism-1/]
Image: ‘From Faith Grows Life’ by Kanjana Nicholas #
WHY INTE W O M E N’S D Amanda Bevan
Co-ordinator Women of Wolverhampton (WOW)
Women’s Day ““International recognises the achievements of women across the globe. International Women’s Day has many roots.
WOW’s aim is to achieve a positive change in the lives of women in Wolverhampton by advancing gender equality and the full participation of women in city life. A key date in our calendar is March 8th, International Women’s Day and since WOW’s inception in 2009 we have worked with other groups in the city to celebrate International Women’s Day; to champion women’s achievements and to challenge inequality. This year we are pleased to work with artists and organisations to recognise the enormous contribution of creative women to the cultural and economic life of Wolverhampton and to challenge decision makers in the city to do more to support them. Women of Wolverhampton is a Groundworks Group for Creative Black Country and is working with women to increase access to and participation in the arts. This has provided opportunities for women to take part in textile and ceramic arts activities, to develop stand -up comedy skills and perform at a Cabaret event at Newhampton Arts Centre. Women have also attended theatre performances, many for the first time, as access is generally limited by economic and social exclusion. International Women’s Day recognises the achievements of women across the globe. International Women’s Day has many roots.
E R N AT I O N A L D AY M AT T E R S In 1910 the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and universal suffrage for women. No fixed date was selected for the observance but the following year an International Women’s Day was marked in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than one million women and men attended rallies. In 1917 Russian women protested and went on strike demanding “Bread and Peace”. The date, the last Sunday in February, was 8th March in the Gregorian calendar and this has been the date of International Women’s Day ever since. In 2015 the UN agreed 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity while protecting the environment by 2030. SDG 5 is Gender Equality and gender is a factor in achieving all of the 17 goals. Follow “Planet 50:50 by 2030” to keep up to date with progress. Current evidence shows that unless we speed things up we won’t close the gender gap in Western Europe for another 61 years and we won’t have a gender equal world until 2186.
countries plus Rwanda, Slovenia and others. Women in Wolverhampton fare less well than women on average in the UK. They are far less likely to be in the highest managerial employment than men (3.6% compared to 8%) and are more likely to be long term unemployed or have never worked (11.5% compared to 8.6%). 90% of lone parent households in Wolverhampton are headed by women and according to the Fawcett Society, women are more likely to rely on state funded benefits to live, “in particular due to their caring responsibilities and their relative economic inequality and poverty.” The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBold ForChange and is a call to accelerate gender parity, to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world. The question to ourselves, to decision makers, employers and investors is “Do we hear the call and what am I (my company/organisation) going to do to achieve a better, more gender inclusive world?”
The top country in the world for gender equality is Iceland. The United Kingdom is 20th, behind most Western European 7
WOLVERHAMPTON BASED PERFORMANCE POET
EMMA PURSHOUSE My first poem was published in the ‘Brownie Magazine’ when I was six. It was a poem about a cat! I remember the excitement of seeing my name in print, and loving the idea of people reading something I’d written. I was encouraged to start writing by the fact that my Granddad wrote. He left a volume of poetry called ‘Survival’ (Mitre Press) which everybody in the family used to look at with such respect. I got a sense from it that poetry was special. I’ve been performing my poetry for ten years. A colleague knew I wrote and asked me to read at a charity event at Light House. I was sick with nerves. However, the audience laughed at the punch line of my poem and that was me hooked. I love performing and now I go all over the country doing it. Jean Hampton was a massive influence on me. Jean was a Wolverhampton based potter and taught at Bilston College. I had an aversion to education, but Jean was so inspirational. She found out that I liked to write and she’d whisk me off to all sorts of writer events. I eventually ended up getting a degree from Wolves Uni and then an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Met. In the last year I’ve had two books of poetry published. ‘The Nailmakers’ Daughters’ (Offa’s Press) is a collection with two other Wolverhampton writers, Marion Cockin and Iris Rhodes. The poems are Black Country centric. I’m passionate
about the landscape, language and people of the Black Country. ‘I once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat,’ published by Fair Acre Press is a collection of children’s poetry, illustrated by Catherine Pascall Moore. The collection won the poetry section of the Rubery Book Award in 2016. I do a lot of work with children. I run a Spark Young Writers Group in Stoke for Writing West Midlands. If you have children who are keen writers I’d recommend having a look at what Writing West Midlands offer for young people. They run sessions all over the region including one in Wolverhampton. Recently I’ve enjoyed working on a book for arts organisation Multistory, called Black Country Root. It’s about people’s experiences of coming from the Caribbean to live and work in the region. I have also loved being a part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival this year. The Poetry Slam, which I hosted at Arena Theatre with Steve Pottinger and Dave Pitt, was a sell out event. My advice to would-be writers would be to enjoy writing initially, but don’t be afraid to experiment with other forms. There are lots of really good small press magazines that you can send your work to. If you fancy sharing what you’ve written with an audience then look out for open mic nights. There is a great website called Write Out Loud which has listings for poetry events all over the country. www.emmapurshouse.co.uk
Image: Emma Purshouse photographed by Nicole Lovell #
GATIS COMMUNITY SPACE Maria Billington
As a training herbalist I dreamt that I had a small patch of land in Whitmore Reans to grow herbs and teach people how to use them. Through a combination of friends working in the Playservice, council cuts and Eden Project’s Big Lunch Extras Programme that dream has been turned into an incredible reality. I am now one of five directors of Acts of Random Caring CIC which run the community hub, Gatis Community Space. We are working towards a community asset transfer with the council. Amy Charles is currently our volunteer manager and between us we lead the vision. Both of us are passionate about making positive change locally to support sustainability strategies, empower women and create an inclusive environment for all. Our ethos is people supporting people using the principles of the five ways to wellbeing: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. Our lovely site in the heart of Whitmore Reans includes a large building, playground area, water and sand play area, community garden development, outdoor campfire/ cooking area and separate gated woodland/bushcraft area. Our
volunteering team are developing the site to improve the facilities to accommodate all the activities we have planned. Our current activities include volunteering opportunities, community café, real junk food project, arts and crafts sessions, nature crafts, conservation sessions, bushcraft sessions, community film club, film making, toddler sessions, clothes swaps, family play days, games nights, a book exchange and disability support sessions. We have space to hire and can hold large scale community events. One of our biggest events was our Interactive Lantern Arts Trail supported by an Open Access Award from Creative Black Country. Around 100 people paraded around Whitmore Reans on a cold October evening being told a story of darkness and light. We hope to make this an annual event with exciting plans already in the pipeline for this years event. I'm also supporting Ann Walker's Camera Obscura Project by organising Wild Plant Walks at the Boundary Way Allotment. To find out more about what Gatis Community Space gets up to please follow us on facebook.
LOVE MY CITY PROJECT Navi Aulkh, founder of Love My City project I am Navi Aulkh and I love my city! I believe the City of Wolverhampton is a vibrant and exciting place to be! Our city is packed full of potential, with rich cultural diversity, a strong industrial heritage, efficient local services and home to so many great people. In 2015, there was a lot of negative press about the city of Wolverhampton. I felt compelled to do something about it. I created a Facebook post and image saying that ‘I love my city’. Within 3 days, it went viral, reaching over 33,000 people and the Love My City graphic was shared by thousands. I wanted local people in the heart of the community to voice how they felt about where they live. The message behind ‘Love My City’ is ‘be the change!’ I want to spread hope and positivity about our city and inspire others to do the same.
It’s been amazing to see so many people support this cause and work with the campaign. There have been increased social media interactions, local council leaders and celebrities wearing our T-shirts and getting behind what the campaign stands for. Love My City celebrated its one year anniversary in October 2016 and I’m humbled by everything the project has achieved so far for our city. There are many paths we are still exploring from the base at All Nations Church and I am excited for what 2017 has in store. We can dream bigger and reach further with the message of city-wide transformation, hope and positivity. Follow us on social media to keep up-todate with ‘Love My City’ and don’t forget to spread the word!
Love My City goes from strength to strength as local people and organisations have partnered together. The message has been taken to schools, churches and different organisations in the community, encouraging everyone to work together. One youth group really caught the heart of this vision and dug into their own pockets to make breakfast bags for the homeless complete with personal messages of hope from the young people. We partnered with the Royal School Wolverhampton to collect harvest items for the Good Shepherd Ministry. A real highlight was having the ‘Love My City’ logo appear on Wolverhampton Fairtrade chocolate. 11
PROFILES OF LOCAL
Komlaish Achall, Visual artist and curator Since graduating from Wolverhampton University my experience as an art practitioner working within the city has highlighted issues, which present as barriers for Black Minority and Ethnic artists having a voice. Some of these are due to Eurocentric art environments and the lack of facilities and promotion for BME art, as well as a lack of BME curators in influential positions to endorse these artists. It is vital that BME artists continue to have opportunities to express their ideas and concerns, feel valued, involved and proud of their city. Today as a Visual Artist, Street Photographer, Community
Artist and Curator, I would very much like the new generations of BME artists in Wolverhampton, to showcase their creative talents across the city and bring audiences from different communities into art spaces to celebrate diversity. Art and Culture are powerful tools with which to engage communities and bring about a more cohesive society. I believe that as integration increases and moves forwards, the confusions around identity, race and belonging will not disappear, but will take different forms requiring BME artists to look into new innovative way to communicate and break down barriers.
Hannah Taylor, Performance Artist and Event Manager There are still so many talented females who work under the jurisdiction of men in the creative industries. It has taken three years of hard voluntary work in a team of middle-aged men to find footing in a creative community. It is a mammoth task to exist as a provider, mother, wife, friend, daughter, lover, in a society that is intimidated by the creativity that can exist alongside this role. Space it seems, is the very thing we lack, yet the very thing we need to share and engage with each other. But space isnâ€™t free.
Working with intelligent, experienced females recently has given me hope that the tide is slowly changing. Fortunately, the Director of Asylum Art Gallery saw my talent and provided me with a platform. However, determination to shape my ability comes from my partner in crime, Emily Scarrott. Only with the support of another female artist have I progressed with my hopes and dreams. Always support and encourage the women who are struggling alongside you.
THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE PARTITION OF INDIA Komlaish Achall
Wolverhampton is a multicultural city and is home to a diverse population and a sizeable South East Asian community, a city full of different cultures, arts, languages, histories, international cuisines, faiths and religions. The communities of Indian and Pakistani origin will be marking the 70th Anniversary of the Partition of India and Independence of their countries at different cultural venues. I have asked artists, photographers, sculptors, spoken word artists, to be involved in representing these
significant events, creating works from their own individual perspectives and unique styles. Artists presenting work will be touching upon issues of race, gender, antiracist discourse, feminist critique and the politics of representation. The exhibition will be held at Newhampton Arts Centre and a number of other venues across the city in August, dates and times will be published closer to the time.
SHARED LIGHT WOLVERHAMPTON CAMERA OBSCURA Ann Walker
THE CAMERA OBSCURA IS AN ANCIENT OPTICAL DEVICE. IN ITS MOST BASIC FORM IT IS, QUITE SIMPLY, A DARK ROOM WITH A SMALL HOLE IN ONE WALL. WHEN LIGHT ENTERS THE HOLE IT PROJECTS AN IMAGE OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD ONTO THE INNER SURFACE OF THE ROOM. I WAS VIEWING A MAGICAL WORLD THAT WAS UPSIDE DOWN AND INSIDE OUT. I WAS EMBODIED IN THIS IN-BETWEEN SPACE THAT WAS NEITHER INSIDE NOR OUTSIDE. I KNEW WHAT I WAS LOOKING AT AND YET I DIDN’T KNOW. I WANTED TO SHARE THIS EXPERIENCE.
Image: by Matthew Walker architect
We are a group of creative individuals who are planning to build a permanent Camera Obscura at Boundary Way Community Gardens in Wolverhampton, alongside developing our site as a venue for cultural activity. The idea of our project has captured people’s interest, and their enthusiasm has led to them helping at working parties and caring for the garden, which now looks amazing. We have secured planning permission to build the camera obscura that will be a quiet contemplative space made with organic materials and deeply connected to nature. A space that will encourage people to slow down, to stop and stare, at the beauty of the everyday, something that we don’t get much chance to do in this fast paced world. If we never stop and look inside ourselves how can we ever find a sense of place? It’s different from other forms of seeing because there is quietness in the space and the image is subdued. The whole experience focuses people’s attention in a different way compared to other forms of seeing, in a more profound way. As part of the University and Art Gallery’s ‘wlvfotofest 2012’ I transformed the entrance to the Alan Garner Centre in Wolverhampton into a camera obscura. After stepping inside the ‘Veiled Chamber’ Paul Scull from the University explained his own experience of the Camera Obscura.
The idea of entering a space through a curtain rather than a door created a sense of mystery. Once seated and eyes adjusted to the lower light levels one experienced a new vision of the material world. A seemingly insignificant external urban space was transformed into something extraordinary.
Moya Lloyd who is Project Manager, has been working hard raising funds and we have secured seed and growth funding from Creative Black Country to develop our project. We are excited to have recently secured funding from Heritage Lottery Fund to continue developing the site, through gathering and recording natural heritage, through stories, workshops, exhibitions and talks. We have made links with Penn Fields Special School, which is adjacent to the site and have delivered a variety of creative workshops to a lovely group from the school, who are now coming to the site twice a week. Howard Berry who is a plot holder has given them half of his plot and is showing them how to grow their own vegetables on the plot, which is wonderful. Creative workshops by artists Hannah Boyd, Geoff Broadway and Laura Hickman have been delivered to mixed groups including artists, non-artists, Beacon Centre for the Blind, people with disabilities and Penn Fields Special School amongst others. Maria Billington, herbalist and Director of ‘ARCCIC – Acts of Random Caring Community Interest Company’ took people on a wonderful Wild Plant Walk at one of our Open Days and we also have a proto-type camera obscura for people to step inside and experience the world in a different way. We anticipate that ‘Shared Light’ will grow and grow giving people the chance to re-connect with nature and to capture their sense of mystery and imagination. If you would like to know more about our project and watch our film you can visit: www.wolvesobscura.co.uk www.facebook.com/WolverhamptonCameraObscura
Paul Scull - Senior Lecturer (Wolverhampton University)
‘Kelly’s Smile’ is an inspirational and empowering read. Kelly Jackson set up her blog after her ‘unlucky’ year as she calls it. 'International Women’s Day is extra special for me. I was in a life changing car accident in 2013. My right leg was amputated, bones were broken, my face scarred and I suffered a brain injury. You’d think that would make me feel less of the woman I was before but it doesn’t. I am more woman now than I was fully limbed and with no scars and perfectly even eyebrows.’ In the three years since the accident Kelly has become an ambassador for various charities across the country including Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, Katie Piper Foundation and the Sian Green Foundation for young amputees - as well as working at Free Radio in Birmingham. Her blog is a personal funny account of her life and the amazing work that she is involved in. 'I wanted a site where friendships could be made, guidance was at hand and support for people facing similar struggles was available. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I set it up myself.’
KELLY JACKSON AT 'INNER BEAUTY EMBRACED' EVENT BY THE KATIE PIPER FOUNDATION
Kelly blogged about Mark Patterson, the first amputee to run the Great Wall of China for the charity LimbPower. Unbeknownst to Kelly, Mark specifically asked that the money he raised would purchase a running blade leg for Kelly after following her blog. ‘I couldn’t believe this amazing man had done this for me! I’m seriously going to pay this kind act forward - like the film. Do something good for others and see the ripple of goodness that follows.’ Kelly hopes that in a couple of years of her own fundraising she will be able to support another amputee purchase a blade. 'I'm doing the Great Birmingham Run (10K) on 30th April. This is my first EVER full run with my own blade. I'm super excited! Super scared! I want to change someone's life for the better, please help me do to that.'
DARING 2 BE ME Tonia Daley-Campbell
From the age of 8 I knew I wanted to be an actress. I would watch the TV and think but how can I get into this world? I’m from Wolverhampton, I'm black, I'm short and wait for it I'm a woman, wow I need some superhero strength to realise my dream career right? Fast forward to 2017, Tonia Daley-Campbell,is a professional actress, producer, director, community activist, founder of Kuumba Arts Movement, ACTS and the Sistahood Project, not forgetting a mother of 4, foster carer, wife and winner of an inspirational woman award in 2016. I dared myself to be who I believe God created me to be. I adore acting, telling stories, making people laugh and most importantly using theatre as a platform for change. My most recent credits include Gazebo Theatre’s ‘Sorry no Coloureds, no Irish,no Dogs’ where I played a number of inspirational black women from history, my favourite character, Nanny Maroon was a strong black woman, who fought the British soldiers and was a strategic leader. I played Claudia Jones in, ‘The Sistren’ the founder of Notting
Hill carnival, an activist, a communist, a formidable lady. I had to get to grips with her well spoken English accent, and make sure her Trinidadian fire wasn't lost. I work a lot with young people in the community with a particular focus on young women. Working with young women who have suffered domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, self harming and bullying led me to create an empowerment programme called The Sistahood Project. We use holistic therapies, and the creative and performing arts to help empower, inspire, and educate young women to love themselves and form positive relationships. This is one of my greatest achievements and it’s growing from strength to strength. Currently I’m working with an amazingly talented actor Oraine Johnson and producing his ground breaking new TV series. ‘Lucid the dream-walker’ is set to take the Midlands by storm. It's a story of discovery and the journey towards freedom from oppression and inequality. I’ve proudly led my life believing #BeBoldForChange. This daring motif has made me the Christian woman, mother, artist and activist that I am.
RIGHT TO EDUCATION
Annemarie Wright, University of Wolverhamton Alumni How would you define your art practice? The main aim of my work is to challenge people's perceptions, helping them realize that first impressions can in fact change. I produce my work using handwritten ink on paper. From a distance the viewer will see a portrait or landscape, however when coming in closer to the art they will see the image is all made of handwritten text. The text is always written by or about the person depicted in the image. How do you choose your icons? I pick individuals that I find interesting; topical subjects or people in the media are always great choices because people can relate to them, it provides more of an emotional response. You can reach people on quite a visceral level when you do a piece on an 'interesting' subject, such as Donald Trump. It divides opinion, which is one of the truly wonderful things about art. Who are you artistic influences? My main influences have come about as part of my education and visiting so many different and varied exhibitions over the years. Artists who have created a stir or got people talking are the ones who have had the biggest impact on me, such as Tracey Emin and Gillian Wearing. I have a huge soft spot for Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol. What role should an artist play in society?
hugely important footprint of our history, and hopefully what is created today will be around for future generations, not only to enjoy, but as an important and informative part of history. Do you have your own experience of misogyny in the art world? I have been incredibly fortunate during my career as an artist, to have never experienced any type of misogynistic behaviour. I think that being a female artist in the 21st Century is such a privilege and I hope that I am able to inspire a few women along the way. We need more female artists and we definitely need more strong female role models. What role do you think Art should play in education? Art in education is so hugely important for so many varied reasons that it's difficult to put into words. Whenever I read about budget cuts and art education taking a back seat it makes me so frustrated. Not only is it important for less academically minded children, who may find their niche in the creative world, but also for every single child, thinking creatively is vital for life ahead. A few years ago, I chose to do a portrait of Malala Yousafzai. This was an incredibly important piece for me as she is such an advocate of 'education for all' and an all round inspirational young woman.
Art is there for everyone to enjoy, it can provide joy and uplift people. It is also a
Image (front cover): ‘Malala Yousafzai - Right to Education’ by Anne Marie Wright. Image composed of text from well wishes to Malala Yousafzai from the QE Hospital, Birmingham message board. Proceeds from this work were donated to a Girls' Educational Fund Charity, funded by the Women in the World Foundation.
ONE NICE THING Artist Anna Smith
My latest project was a participatory artwork as part of International Women’s Day 2017 - in support of all women to encourage us to be nicer to each other. We are indoctrinated to be individualist, materialistic rivals. Through media and advertising, women are pressurised to buy a better self. We are continuously placed in competition with each other by capitalism’s pervasive ethos demanding we strive to be better by being thinner, prettier and richer. All this is to thinly veil its toxic machinations for us to buy, buy, buy. In reality humans are social animals designed to live as a community that protects and nurtures its members. Today’s individualistic society is
physically and mentally unnatural and unhealthy. It is so easy to be negative, critical and judgmental of others and now with modern technology there is even more remove from interpersonal relationships. So for each day in the month of January I hand wrote a letter explaining this project to 31 different women I know. At the end of the letter I wrote one nice thing that personally relates to how I think or feel about them. I chose these specific women because I felt they had had a big effect on my life, some not always positive; some were more difficult to write than others. Please feel free to copy and share this idea, or just try to remember to say one nice thing to every woman you meet in your day to day life.
Image: ‘One Nice Thing’ by Anna Smith photograped by Paul Jackson
‘GHOST DINNER PARTY’ Hannah Boyd
‘Ghost Dinner Party’ is a participatory art piece by the creative practitioner, Hannah Boyd. She has invited other women artists to send her their 'Ghost Projects' on pure white dinner plates. The piece is in response to International Women's Day 2017 and is inspired by the work of feminist artist, Judy Chicago and conceptual artist, Yoko Ono. On reading 'Through the Flower’ an autobiography by Judy Chicago, Boyd was inspired by Chicago's relentless work with women’s groups raising awareness of women artists' achievements throughout history. An awareness that was rarely found in formal patriarchal education systems. Chicago's desire to build on their legacy and using their experiences to overcome
struggles was shown symbolically in her iconic piece ‘The Dinner Party’ in which 39 places were set for women who had made significant contributions to Western history. Whilst undertaking her Master's degree, Boyd was introduced to ‘Grapefruit’ a book of instructions for art and for life by Yoko Ono. These ‘Ghost Projects’ are theoretical and allow the reader to escape into an emancipated reality. Boyd will be selecting 39 plates to feature in a book called: ‘Ghost Dinner Party’ with foreward by Professor Dew Harrison, Chair of the Faculty Professoriate at the University of Wolverhamptonan's Faculty of Arts.
I WANTED TO BUILD ON THE LINEAGE OF MY FOREMOTHERS, IN FUSING THESE PROJECTS TOGETHER. I SOUGHT TO ENGAGE WITH OTHER WOMEN ARTISTS IN A PURSUIT FOR GENDER PARITY. BY DISPLAYING THESE INVITED ARTISTS' ‘GHOST PROJECTS’ IN A BOOK AND ONLINE I WISH TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR DIVERSE DEPTHS AND TALENTS WHILST INSPIRING OTHERS.
Hannah Boyd, 2017
Image: ‘Ghost Dinner Party’ by Hannah Boyd photographed by Nelson Douglas #
Image (above): ‘The Girl Who Stopped’ by artist Komlaish Achall exhibited at the ‘Women in Art’ exhibition, October 2016 at Light House independent cinema and art centre #
MIND THE GAP Sarah Harford
Sarah Harford's work is grounded in documentary practice, exploring the everyday, representing and investigating alternative viewpoints that reflect and try to make sense of our place in society and the world. Sarah has worked in a variety of fields including music, art, fashion, journalism, education, public art & media both independently and as part of artist groups. "I created the "pay" and the symbol on acetate and made my intervention on a public safety notice at Euston tube station on a recent trip to London. I laid the acetate on the floor, photographed and then removed causing no long term damage or permanent change."
“In 2016, the average pay of women working full-time was only 90.6% of men’s pay.This means that compared to men, women stopped earning on the 10th November 2016, effectively working for no money after this date, which is referred to as Equal Pay Day. On average, a woman working full-time in 2016 earned £5,732 less a year than a man (Allen, 2016, Fawcett Society, 2016).When part-time employees are included, the gender pay gap was 18.1% in 2016. The pay gap varies across sectors, rising to up to 55% in the finance sector. In 2012, 64% of the lowest paid workers were women, contributing not only to women's poverty but to the poverty of their children.” www.striking-women.org
REVOLUTIONARIES Rebecca Atkinson-Lord, artistic director of Arch 468 and former director of theatre at London’s Ovalhouse In the Physics lab at school was a sign; “A woman must work twice as hard as a man to be thought half as good. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult”. It was tucked away on the side of a filing cabinet by the door and I don’t remember anyone ever commenting on it or even acknowledging it was there. But walking past it twice a week for seven years stamped it indelibly on my mind. Looking back, that sign feels pretty subversive. In an all-girls convent school in the early 90s, the cultural messages we imbibed were far from uniformly feminist. We were taught that modesty and charm were essential attributes in a young lady, just as we were urged to excel academically and aspire to be doctors, lawyers, teachers or engineers (or, in fact, anything we damn well wanted to be). It never occurred to me, then, to ask if the pupils at the equivalent local boys school had to sit through lectures on chastity or endure their dress, voice, and manners being so thoroughly policed to weed out any sign of independent thought or rebellion. Having loved the school like a second family, I’ve often wondered if I’d want the same for my own daughters; whether I’d want to send them into that confusing mix
of structurally misogynist teaching that nonetheless made me feel treasured and invincible. I’ve often wondered, too, how on earth I managed to emerge so thoroughly assured of my own feminist belief that much of my later career has been transfigured by an activist agenda for equality. Time and again I return to that sign and to a million other tiny subversive messages I received from the brilliant women who taught me. I’ve come to realise that not all activists march in protest. Some of them turn up for work every day and quietly, patiently undermine the misogynist idiocy they face by teaching young women to keep going; to aspire; to reject the assumption that women should be anything other than what they themselves choose. I’ll never know who posted that sign, but almost everything I am, I owe to those teachers and their incessant insistence that even though I’d have to be twice as good as the competition, with a bit of work that wouldn’t be a problem. For me, they changed the world. I can’t thank them, but I can pay forward their good deed by supporting every young woman I can to be the very best version of herself. Vive the quiet revolution.
Image (opposite page): ‘Mind the Gap’ by Sarah Harford #
WILD BYTES CAFE
Samantha Pitfield runs the popular cafe and internet lounge, Wild Bytes in Darlington Street. A cafe she dreamt about creating four years ago when she was a stay at home mom to her daughter. Sam felt the need to do something positive for her community. Having studied theatre and worked in the industry before motherhood, she wanted to draw on her creativity and create a cafe and internet lounge in the heart of the city which encouraged artistic practice and authentic community. Receiving guidance and mentoring from Black Country Chamber of Commerce she was eligible for the Prince’s Trust Exploring Enterprise course and awarded a grant from the Prince’s Trust and the European Redevelopment Fund. ‘I fell in love with the old neglected art shop next to House of Fraser. It had such charm. With some tlc, I knew that I could breathe new life and love into
the building.’ This labour of love was successful with the cafe opening its doors in 2015. Sam has made her cafe a most welcoming venue and it’s become a popular meeting place in the city. Its relaxed friendly atmosphere is borne from Sam’s innate spirit of hospitality and focus on the customer. ‘We care about our customers. We’re not profit orientated - we just want to provide a welcoming place for people to come and chat, socialise and enjoy themselves.’ Wild Bytes has remained true to its vision of encouraging creativity and community, hosting Creative Mondays the monthly gathering for creative networking, Open mic sessions, Sufi music and poetry soirees, exhibitions, as well as D and D gaming nights. The artwork on display is from local artists, and artworks, crafts and jewellery are available to buy. Wild Bytes is one of the venues involved in the Wolverhampton Book Exchange and hosts Wolverhampton’s only pop up bookshop, ‘Deep Dark Woods’ selling publications from Wolverhampton based writers. Wild Bytes Cafe has real heart and character, and community spirit. Although Sam was surprised to win an Enterprise Award in 2015 for the Cafe, her many customers were not. Her vision and passion for the cafe have ensured that it is a uniquely welcoming independent venue for all.
Image: Samantha Pitfield photographed by Nelson Douglas
‘I'M IN THE BAND’
Fliss Kitson, Drummer with Post-Punk band, Nightingales
I became a drummer when I was 15 years old - mainly due to starting a “band” to beat the boys at school in a Battle Of The Bands competition (and succeeded). I had lessons from the age of 16-20 and continued in that band for 10 years. I say I have my own take on the drum kit now. I like to have an adventure with it, make melodies with the rhythms and my whole body moves with it. Janet Weiss, of Sleater-Kinney fame, is the backbone behind me choosing the drums. Her imagination and flow is a true inspiration. I also adored Palmolive from the Slits, the tribal rhythms and the spontaneity of her patterns really stuck with me. Although I am more than aware of women always being part of popular music performance and recording, they have historically been identified as niche or novelty and steered away. I do whatever I can to encourage young women to push themselves and boost their confidence. I've been through my fair share of negativity and sexist digs.... "No I'm not the girlfriend of the band, I'm in the band"
I've been drumming with The Nightingales since 2012 and take on a more prominent vocal role too now. I also do a majority of the tour booking and online promotion, which I enjoy (albeit very stressful!). I adore it and it's more than just the music, we're a family. I'd say playing last years ATP Festival, hosted by Stewart Lee, has got to be a highlight of my career. He is a good friend and fan of the band and he really helped put us on a platform we otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to. We went on just after his first stand up set of the weekend, to a full house with an introduction from Stew as we came on stage. Pretty rockin'. The touring in general I love, seeing different cities, different countries and meeting amazing people.... can't beat it! The Nightingales new 10" EP 'Become Not Becoming' is available to buy from: www.uknightingales.bandcamp.com/album/ become-not-becoming. UK and EU tour dates through the year. www.thenightingales.org.uk
Image: Fliss Kitson performing at ATP Festival Prestatyn, North Wales photographed by Agata Urbaniak #
FIRST AMONG EQUALS’
With the upcoming 70 th anniversary of the founding of many Polish Parish and Community Groups, Agata WasiewskaAltintzoglou captures daily lives of Polish people in the multi-ethnic city of Wolverhampton. This photographic documentary project aims to reveal the hidden realities of the Polish community taking place in Polish schools, clubs, churches and houses in the UK following the Brexit vote. As a Polish immigrant herself living in Wolverhampton for many years, Wasiewska-Altintzoglou has gained the invaluable trust of the community. Being the largest group of foreign citizens in the UK (more than 850,000) the Polish community is now facing xenophobic assaults and anti-Polish sentiment across the country. With the government vowing to cut immigration in next steps of the Brexit negotiations, the future of all immigrants is
becoming increasingly uncertain. Her black and white images provide an insight into the activities of this community and life experiences of its members at this time of transition. However, according to Wasiewska-Altintzoglou her work carries a celebratory tone: ‘My aim is to observe and photograph the Polish community at its best moments. I don’t want to show confusion, despair, crisis or similar feelings very often associated with immigrants. On the contrary, I want to focus on happiness and cheerful moments that emerge from simple daily and weekly activities of this community. ‘ No matter what the political turn out, the modern identity of the United Kingdom has been strongly shaped by multiculturalism and so have its people. Who is the first among all equals?
HOPE COMMUNITY PROJECT Michelle Anne Sleigh
Michelle Anne Sleigh recently graduated from the University of Wolverhampton in Fine Art. Her practice is in the field of community and participatory art. Michelle joined the Petals’ women’s group at Hope Community Project in 2014 as an artist in residence. This was the first time that Michelle would be working amongst women with such diverse cultural backgrounds and facing the challenge of running a group where English wouldn’t be the first language. Michelle relished the challenges and knew that arts and creative projects were the perfect bridges for all the women to come together and contribute to the group. “The women never cease to amaze me. There is such talent within the group. Maria, Rehjat, Nahla, Li Ping are all gifted artists and Desiree was a professional seamstress in her country of origin. Her work is amazing. We are all friends within the group and its natural to share our experience and passions with each other.
Recently the women have been teaching each other needlework, making dresses, aprons, cushions and bags after receiving a grant from Barrow Cadbury Trust. We are looking forward to an upcoming trip to the N.E.C. in March for an International Craft Fair to purchase resources for ongoing projects led by the women themselves. We have been working on upcycling and designing purple t-shirts for International Women's Day. We are also running a free art workshop at Newhampton Arts Centre on IWD 2017 (pg.42) The women are working on patchwork art relating to identity and multiculturalism. At the event on March 8th we will be working on a grand scale, collaborative artwork with Women of Wolverhampton’s group and guests on the evening. Please come and find us in the main hall at Newhampton Arts Centre.”
What is definitely striking about the group is its sense of fun and welcome. When there have been issues the women rally round each other. It is a nurturing and empowering group. I love running Petals and facilitating creative workshops alongside the women.
KELLY JEFFS AND SUSAN MURRAY CEO Light House Independent Cinema and Stand up Comedian When did you meet and what were your first impressions of each other? KJ: Early 1977 - so it’s actually our 40th anniversary this year. My family moved in to Susan’s street and some neighbours told me to go ask the little girl round the corner if she wanted to play. I knocked on the door and her mom just sent me straight upstairs. SM: Kelly burst into my brother’s bedroom where I was playing with my badge making machine. KJ: I’d say we were friends at first sight. SM: I thought she was really bossy and wasn’t keen at first!
Childhood memories KJ: We often ended up doing really creative things together, writing and performing our own comedy sketch shows and one time turning her little bedroom walk-in wardrobe into an ‘office’. (A prelude to both their prospective careers). SM: There was always just lots and lots of laughter. We would make up our own shows and force our parents to watch them. We recreated John Lennon’s Imagine video with me playing an imaginary piano and Kelly (Yoko) opening loads of imaginary shutters (see the video, I think we were quite accurate!) and we spent a decade playing a game of deduction called Electronic Detective which we LOVED! I reminded Kelly of this the other day in a random text and she laughed so much she cried
all her make up off and had to redo her face before an important meeting! What challenges have you faced in your careers? KJ: As a female CEO from a working class background I’ve sometimes felt undermined and on occasion ignored entirely especially in business meetings that haven’t been related to the creative industries. I don’t believe I’ve ever been subjected to blatant sexism (not knowingly anyhow) but I’ve had experience of ‘microindignities’ when I’ve found it difficult to speak out. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more resilient and hardened to some of the ridiculous behaviours I’ve encountered. Although I’ve worked hard to reach the point where I have in my job role, it’s been entirely a labour of love and luckily most of my male peers have been nothing but supportive of my achievements. SM: Oh gawd, how long you got? “Women aren’t funny” is so ingrained in some sections of society, I even had a young girl
say that to me at a gig in Stoke recently. I always find that astounding as all of my female friends are incredibly witty, I wonder what kind of women these idiots hang about with. Why would you be mates with someone if they didn’t make you laugh? I think it’s changing as the years go on and there are more and more of us. But I’ve watched male comics do material that utterly pedestrian knowing that if it was me delivering that I’d get booed off. You have to be twice as good as the men and you have to get your first laugh on stage a LOT sooner, audiences give you less of a chance so you have to prove yourself super quick. Proudest moment of each other’s career KJ: I remember first seeing her perform stand-up. God, my heart was in my mouth and I just kept repeating to myself ‘please be good, please be good’… and thankfully she was. That’s when I realised Susan was achieving something she’d set out to do. That was my proudest moment. SM: I rarely get to go to events at Light House as they always clash with gigs I’m doing but I took the weekend off to go to the amazing event she had for Willard Wigan when Our Lord Noddy Holder did a speech. It was brilliant. What was very touching was as it wound down it was just the staff and me and Kelly having a drink and it was obvious that ALL her staff love her and think she’s a great boss, which let’s face it is exceedingly rare. I’m so proud of her. She’s the heart and soul of that place. Love her to bits.
#OUR SHARED FUTURES Kate Penman Refugee Week is the UK's largest festival celebrating the contribution of refugees and promoting understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Counterpoints Arts invited me to speak at the Refugee Week Conference this year at Amnesty International in London. It was a wonderful opportunity to share with other artists and delegates how Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary has celebrated Refugee Week for the last two years. Schools, community groups, newly arrived and emerging artists, film makers, photographers, poets, actors and musicians have all collaborated to tell the stories of refugees and migrants in our city. Awards from Creative Black Country, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Wolverhampton Homes, Wolverhampton Interfaith and Ashley Community Housing have helped fund and promote large scale mixed media exhibitions at the Light House. The exhibitions, ‘Different Pasts, Shared Futures’ have given an important platform to creatively share unknown stories of people in Wolverhampton who have had no choice but to seek asylum from persecution and war. Many newly arrived artists have been given the opportunity to produce and exhibit artwork. In 2016 we were able to extend our programme and we held a spoken word event #RefugeesWelcome at the Asylum Art Gallery, compered by Paul Francis. Local poets and actors performed their own work and the works of international poets performed in Arabic and Farsi. Dawit Woldu held his first solo exhibition of photographic portraits of the refugee and migrant community at the Asylum Art Gallery.
Refugee Week 2017’s theme is #OurSharedFutures and will again showcase artwork and live performances across the city. As part of Refugee Week there will be another Meet and Mingle event where people are invited to bring food and spend an evening togethermeeting people newly arrived to our city and making friendships that would otherwise not be possible. I first met Parastoo at a Meet and Mingle event at the Light House in October 2015. Through becoming friends on Facebook I discovered that she was a talented artist and asked her to exhibit in last year’s exhibition, ‘Different Pasts, Shared Futures.’ Parastoo also performed two Simin Behbahani poems in Farsi at the spoken word event #RefugeesWelcome. Pamela Cole Hudson performed the English translations. Parastoo Duffett My name is Parastoo Duffett. Parastoo is a Persian name meaning the swallow bird. I was born in Tehran just ten months before the revolution in Iran. I remember how people were oppressed and fearful of the government. I grew up in a society where people had many secrets and lived in fear. Eight years of my childhood were in the Iran/Iraq war. If I heard the warning alert now it would send shivers down my spine. The war was inhuman. No one should experience it.
I had loads of dreams about my future as I was growing up. My family encouraged me to study. However, I got married and my ex-husband would not let me continue studying. I was in a very abusive relationship mentally, physically and emotionally. I was living a wealthy life, having everything a woman could dream for, but it wasn’t a life of my own. I was a prisoner in a golden cage. I tried to divorce many times but each attempt failed. My ex-husband was wealthy and very influential. Last time in 2010 when I tried to divorce, he bribed the judge and the court. They lost my evidence and threatened my solicitors that they would be charged for murder if they tried to continue my case.
He only agreed to the divorce if I didn’t want any money from him. I just wanted my freedom so I accepted. I am studying my final year in Interior Design at Wolverhampton University. I married the love of my life in 2015. He’s a huge encouragement to me. Since leaving Iran lots of kind and loving people have been beside me to help and support. My daughters have always been supportive and courageous, and I am proud of them. They have been a great hope to me. I just want to thank everyone who has helped us to start life from scratch. I love to encourage women to be bold to change their circumstances. You are capable. You are a masterpiece. You can change lives including your own life. #Beboldforchange
I had to go back and live with that man. I felt hopeless. My brother had been talking to me about Jesus and sent me a Bible to read. I gave my heart to Jesus in 2010 while I was in Tehran. Violence and imprisonment is commonplace in Iran for Christians. After eight months, I fled the country with my two daughters. The UK government accepted us and took care of us when we arrived. I managed to divorce my ex-husband.
PARASTOO DUFFETT TOGETHER WITH HER HUSBAND TIM AND PAINTING ‘WELCOME’ #
HOPE COMMUNITY PROJECT GIRLS' GROUP
HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE Kate Penman
Diane Garbett has been a youth worker at Hope Community Project in Heath Town for thirteen years. Diane runs a weekly girls group with Lesley Davies, a community support worker at Hope. Recently Hope Community Project has been awarded funding from Comic Relief and Children in Need to work specifically around the themes of child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and gang action. Working alongside Gloucester Street, Base 25, Catch 22 and in conjunction with Gazebo theatre, Comic Relief has funded a creative programme of workshops and performances looking at healthy relationships, self esteem issues, online and gang related grooming and child sexual exploitation. Tonia Daley Campbell and Pamela Hudson from Gazebo Theatre and Talent Match will be working closely with teenage girls across the city. Diane is currently working on a Safe and Sound Programme funded by Children in Need. In partnership with West Midlands Police Diane is
involved in intervention work, mediation on high risk cases and crisis situations. Diane has previously worked on serious cases involving sexual abuse, grooming and gang related issues. An uncovering of a child sex abuse case which culminated with a father being jailed for 17 years may never have come to light if the young girl had not been attending the weekly groups at HCP. It was after a group that she chose to confide in Diane. Diane has supported the family throughout the trial and is now working closely with mother and daughter on an educational initiative in schools across the West Midlands. Her story was shared at the event, 'A Family Thing' - an event that Diane put on at New Testament Church Hall in Heath Town in October
2016. The evening was entirely devised by the girls group and featured a drama written and performed by girls from the group on child sexual exploitation. The eveningâ€™s programme included a powerful testimony by a young girl directly affected by her brotherâ€™s involvement with gangs. A film produced by Nelson Douglas on the impact of gang culture on the lives of families in the area was screened at the event. It featured first hand accounts of ex-gang members and families affected by gang involvement. The film highlighted the frontline work of Hope Community Project and football coach, Joe Jackson in the community. The event was attended by 100 guests. Superintendent Keith Fraser, Wolverhampton Safeguarding, the director of Public
Health, Catch 22 and staff from Re-entry all supported the event alongside the community. A definite success of the evening came from the fact that it was the young women themselves voicing their concerns and insights into issues directly affecting them. Hope Community Project was founded in 1985 by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus. It was originally called Hope Family Centre and has been at the heart of the community for over thirty years, earning the trust, love and respect of the community. The trips and residentials that the Sisters began thirty years ago continue to this day. Diane and Lesley take the youth group on trips throughout the year and an annual week long residential trip. Amongst the many physical activities Lesley and Diane work on confidence and self esteem issues and the importance of safe relationships. Their hope is that the girls grow up to be empowered young women and implement the life skills that they have been taught. I attended the event, A Family Thing and watched the girls perform and compere the evening. It is clear that the work of Hope Community Project is having the desired effect.
DIANE GARBETT WITH THE GIRLS GROUP ON THEIR RESIDENTIAL TRIP TO MALVERN HILLS #
PROFILES OF LOCAL
Laura Onions, Temple Street Studios Director As an artist, feminist, teacher and perpetual student, when I think about my involvement in Wolverhampton over the past seven years it has never been without support, passion or collaboration. That is not to say without challenges or the unexpected. Frustrated with the lack of provision for artists post-university to experiment and develop identities within the city itself, fortune found Sarah Byrne and Sean Morris, two people with the ambition and drive to make things happen. We worked together to open Temple Street
Studios in October 2016. So far we have hosted open studios, exhibitions and mentored emerging artists in developing their own projects. As I try to imagine the future artistic landscape of the city my hope is that Temple Street Studios will maintain an opening to accommodate and provide opportunity for artists to explore and develop their art in a supportive environment. An outlet and inlet for creativity in the city. The fact that six of eight of the studio holders are female was not intentional, yet it is vitally important.
Julia Foster, Participatory artist and Community Engagement officer at Wolverhampton Art Gallery Current debate around participatory art is what interests me, the questions and concerns around outcomes and agendas. As a practicing artist I have had experience of both commissions that demand outcomes and those that start a discourse. I prefer the latter. I like working with people, I like hearing their stories and experiences and I like it most of all when they are prepared to work with me. I am interested in how we now live in a world where the majority of the global population live in cities.
Incubation is a work where I invited guests to a series of Broadcast parties where they were given party poppers containing seeds. The action of releasing the seeds in public spaces engaged participants with a rethink of municipal planting and encouraged natural and edible landscapes within the urban environment. Notions of the ephemeral, collaborative and sometimes the edible combine towards actions and activities rather than single form artworks.
An ongoing interest in sustainability in general and urban agriculture in particular has led me to explore seeding ideas; how we grow plants which ones and why.
IINCUBATE: The Broadcast Party a national project exhibited at New Art Gallery Walsall The Patrin Project: an international art project exhibited at Supermarket StockholmÂ www.supermarketartfair.com
NEW ART WEST MIDLANDS 2017 Anna Smith, New Art West Midlands Winner 2014 As a New Art West Midlands winner in 2014 I was awarded a 6 week residency at MAC, Birmingham. This year four of the University of Wolverhampton’s outstanding female graduates have been selected for the prestigious New Arts West Midlands 2017 exhibition. New Arts West Midlands is the annual graduate visual arts exhibition, showcasing the best of the up and coming, contemporary fine artists. The exhibition is held across four venues, opening 18th February 2017, at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, MAC Birmingham, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Worcester City Museum & Art Gallery. Graduates Susan Brisco (film/drawing), Pamela Fletcher (painting), Jade
Hamilton (sculpture) and Sarah Zacharek (photography / video) have all been selected to take part in the exhibition. Sue Brisco, recent MA Fine Art graduate, currently has a studio at Eagle Works Studios. Sue has a passion for art and the sciences and her work explores the crossovers and interactions between the two fields. Pam Fletcher graduated winning the DalerRowney Prize for Excellency in Painting and achieving a First BA(Hons) Fine Art. Pam helped to set up and has a studio space at Temple Street Studios, Wolverhampton. Pam’s painting focuses on expression through abstraction. Jade Hamilton, another resident artist at Temple Street Studios, conjures up a future post-apocalyptic scene where human beings have used up the earth’s environment and resources to such an extent that it is impossible to breathe independently. Her sculptures make use of readymade objects, planting and blown glass.
Sarah Zacharek, is now a teaching assistant at the University whilst studying for a Masters degree. Sarah is also a newly appointed director at Engaging Images CIC, based at NAC. Following on from last year’s successful PhotoFest exhibitions Image: Jessica Litherland Producer – across several venues Visual Arts & Media at MAC with Jade Sarah is currently Hamilton's sculpture: ‘Future Mess’ working on community photographed by Jas Sansi (Twitter: @jassansi) projects to exhibit later in the year. #
FINDING MY VOICE AGAIN Megan Reece
Since I was 11, I've seen music as a form of escapism, almost like a safety net for when I’ve not known where to go. By 18 I'd performed at The Symphony Hall, Wulfrun and Civic halls and the NIA. Performing helped me to slowly gain confidence. I went to Access to Music College in Birmingham and really loved my time there, finding life long friends and knowing that I really wanted to pursue a career in music. After leaving college and feeling confident for the future I soon found myself in a relationship which was toxic. I met a man who quickly became very abusive and over the course of six years I became a shell of the young woman I had been. The marriage was physically, mentally and emotionally damaging. I didn't sing for four years. Those were the darkest days of my life, I struggled to accept that I was a victim and made excuses and hid away like a lot of victims do. Heartbreakingly, I also lost a son in that time. Gradually I become very isolated, I had no support. I thought I could never escape that cycle, but with the help of one of Wolverhampton's most treasured charities, the Haven I managed to break away finally when I was twenty five. I cannot speak highly enough of the inspiring work that the Haven does. It keeps vulnerable women safe from harm and helps rebuild shattered lives. The moment I contacted them, and reluctantly reached out, my life changed! I didn't believe anyone could help. They swept me under their wing and took care of everything.
Since their involvement and with a lot of hard work as well as that quiet self belief, I have managed to make the happiest of lives for myself and my children and I married the love of my life in 2015. I was scouted for BBC's the Voice in 2015 and appeared on the show as part of Paloma Faith's final twelve in January 2016. It was a surreal but very unique experience. The most important thing I've discovered in the last five years is that the power to change circumstances was also within me, and I wish this concept was easier for us as a society to grasp. I think people carry the attitude 'well, it's just the way it is' far too heavily- I have a newfound surge of energy these days to try to empower people, just as I have been empowered. I now possess a fiercely positive attitude and outlook, a stark contrast to the old me. I'm a great believer in female empowerment, especially in the sense of women supporting other women. I believe that regardless of sex, gender, race, creed, religion we should all encourage one another to do brave and bold things, hence my support of the #beboldforchange initiative. *Megan Reece is performing at the ‘Reflecting Women’ event at Newhampton Arts Centre on 8 th March (see pg. 42 for further details).
Image: Megan Reece photographed by J. P. Haslam
WOMEN AND FAMILIES
RESOURCE CENTRE Karyne Tazi
WFRC is a registered charity based in Wolverhampton that develops programs, projects and activities that support, educate and empower women, girls and families. We actively encourage women to be self-reliant, by empowering them to identify their own needs and create their own solutions to the problems and challenges they face. Many of the families we work with come from vulnerable, disadvantaged and deprived communities which face poverty and multiple problems such as domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, honour based violence, forced marriages, depression, family relationship breakdown, immigration, substance misuse, disability, mental health issues, long term illness , unemployment, debts and homelessness. It was constant and early exposure to these issues that led myself
and a few other friends to set up a support group called African Women of Substance which later opened up its doors to women from all backgrounds and became The Women & Families Resource Centre. "No two women or families we work with are the same. The only things they have in common are usually feelings of pain, hopelessness and fear. These periods of crisis and challenge are crucial as they can strengthen resilience or be dangerously overwhelming. I am a strong believer in the saying that ‘No man is an island’. At some point in everyone’s life, someone must have spared their time, effort, money or resources to help, lend a listening ear or support when needed the most. Therefore, we should all play our part in being there for each other during those dark periods.”
BEING A PART OF WFRC TAUGHT ME I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE MY LIFE AT ANY TIME. THEY HAVE STOOD BY ME THROUGHOUT MY UPS AND DOWNS. I BELIEVE THAT WOMEN SHOULD EMPOWER EACH OTHER INSTEAD OF BEING SO HATEFUL AND ENVIOUS OF ONE AND OTHER. WHAT I HAVE LEARNT FROM MRS KARYNE TAZI IS NEVER TO BE SCARED OF FALLING INTO PROBLEMS BECAUSE IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REBUILD MY LIFE THE WAY I WANT. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU SCREW UP, NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN'T DO IT. KEEP GOING AND DO IT TO PROVE THEM WRONG.
Raleena Anas - winner of ‘Young Achievers’ Award ‘All Women Achievers’ Awards 2016
I’VE GAINED A LOT OF CONFIDENCE FROM HELPING OUT AT THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S CLUB. I’M NOT SHY ANYMORE, I CAN TALK IN FRONT OF BIG GROUPS OF PEOPLE, AND WFRC HAS BOOSTED MY SELF CONFIDENCE AND SELF-ESTEEM. IT HAS GIVEN ME THE INSPIRATION AND SUPPORT TO PURSUE A CAREER WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE.
Esther - volunteer youth group worker
THE HORROR OF
TRAFFICKING Abbie Dunne
It was the summer of 2016 and Rio was the place to be! In the months building up to the Olympic games the excitement was palpable. Yet as I sat in a ‘school’ inside one of Rio’s deprived favelas just weeks before the games were due to start, I experienced first-hand the contrast between joy for the games and the sorrow that many Brazilians were facing. I listened with heartache as a seven year old girl spoke so matter-of-factly: “mommy is scared about me coming to school in case men come to take me away and sell me to work or do things I don't want to do.” Human trafficking (the illegal buying, selling and exploitation of people) is rife. Its secretive nature has paved the way to it becoming the fastest growing crime globally with more than twenty million people trafficked every year. I spent three months volunteering in Brazil doing human trafficking prevention and restoration work prior to the Olympics. I was naïve about its scale (especially within our own privileged UK communities) and its destructive impact on lives. I could have told you what trafficking was and that it was wrong but I had no idea of its wickedness. Trafficking in persons is an increasing problem that involves both sexual exploitation and labor exploitation of its victims. Trafficking affects all regions and the majority of countries in the world. Both men and women may be victims of trafficking, but the primary victims worldwide are women and girls, the majority of whom are trafficked for the purpose of sexual
A woman we worked with had been kidnapped and forced to work long hours in a dreary factory while her children were locked in a cupboard. Listening to the account of three young boys who were kidnapped, mutilated and sold for sex was sickening. We partnered with a number of Churches and charities in Brazil working tirelessly to bring hope to the hopeless and restore life to the broken-hearted. In three months we didn’t ‘save’ lives (although I believe we impacted lives through loving victims) BUT the importance of awareness became evident. In writing this article I hope people will take the time to educate themselves about trafficking and support trafficking charities. *During the event 'Reflecting Women' (see pg.42) Wolverhampton Soroptimist, Julia Jordan is running a workshop on the Spoon Campaign. Soroptimists International support Karma Nirvana to promote and educate on forced marriage and trafficking. The campaign advises girls and women to carry a metal spoon in their pocket to alert airport staff when passing through security. Julia Jordan will be fundraising for the campaign at the event. exploitation. Traffickers primarily target women because they are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination, factors that impede their access to employment, educational opportunities and other resources. (Stop Violence against Women - A Project for the advocates of Human Rights) #
A CREATIVE CELEBRATION FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY An evening of theatre, storytelling, art, music, dance and food
Wednesday 8th March 6pm: JESTERS CAFÉ
MUSIC AND DANCE
open for Chili and Mexican snacks
Megan Reece Jessica Law Howling Wolves Community Choir Deejays All Hands on Deck Dance step Diane Leek
7pm: REFLECTING FRIDAS By Ana Maria Lines The life and work of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo are the inspiration for the evening. Brazilian storyteller Ana Maria Lines tells her fascinating story. Discover a unique life and an exceptional woman.
8pm: WORKSHOPS Creative workshops - Ceramics painting, Sally Scholes (Newhampton Arts Centre) Textiles Michelle Anne Sleigh and Petals group (Hope Community Project) with Women of Wolverhampton group. Reflective photography with Ana Sidom. Soroptimist, Julia Jordan's 'Spoon campaign' workshop.
EXHIBITION Art from the Heart - artwork produced by Clare Wassermann's art group
OPEN STUDIO Watercolour artist Sarah Stokes
TICKETS AGE 13+ Tickets: £7.50 / £6.50 in advance £5 concessions (Group rates available) Includes show and all workshops. For tickets visit: www.ticketsource.co.uk/newhamptonartscentre
REPEATEDLY PAINTING HER OWN IMAGE, FRIDA KAHLO EXPLORED HER IDENTITY AS A WOMAN, ARTIST, MEXICAN, DISABLED PERSON AND POLITICAL ACTIVITIST. IN A REMARKABLE RANGE OF SELF-PORTRAITS, SHE CONSTRUCTED AN IMAGE FOR HERSELF, AND, WITH HER FLAMBOYANT MEXICAN COSTUMES, JEWELLERY AND EXOTIC PETS, ULTIMATELY MADE HERSELF INTO SOMETHING OF AN ICON.
Image: ‘Viva la Vida – Frida Kahlo’ by Clare Wassermann, Prints available Etsy Other artwork available at Banana Art Gallery www.clare.wassermannart.com
UPCOMiNG EVENTS THURSDAY WOMEN'S GROUP Weekly, 10-1pm in the Community Room, G1, NAC, Dunkley Street, WV1 4AN All are welcome – inc. moms and toddlers. Email email@example.com NEW ARTS WEST MIDLANDS 18th Feb – 14th May, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, MAC Birmingham, Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery Show case of the Midlands’ Universities Fine Art graduates REFLECTING WOMEN Wednesday 8th March, 6.00pm, NAC, Dunkley Street, WV1 4AN Celebration of IWD including theatre, storytelling, art, music and food HAVEN ABSEIL FUNDRAISER 11th March, 10.00am, Walsall Art Gallery, WS2 8LG Sponsored abseil for The Haven www.haven.refuge.org.uk SUFI SOUL SOIREE 17th March, 7.00-9.00pm, Wild Bytes Cafe, 15 Darlington Street, WV1 4HW COMMUNITY FILM CLUB 31st March, 7pm (Cult Cinema) | 1st April, 3pm (Family Matinee) Gatis Community Space, Gatis Street, WV6 0ET – Free screenings (£2 annual membership) POETS, PRATTLERS AND PANDEMONIALISTS 21st April, Arena Theatre, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1SE Poetry performance by Emma Purshouse, Dave Pitt and Steve Pottinger WONDER WOMAN - THE NAKED TRUTH 5th May, NAC, Dunkley Street, WV1 4AN Performance. Baby and toddler friendly. JOY IN THE EVERYDAY April – June, Bantock House, Bantock Park, Finchfield Road, Wolverhampton, WV3 9LQ Solo exhibition by Kanjana Nicholas DIFFERENT PASTS, SHARED FUTURES 19- 25th June, Light House Independent Cinema and Arts Centre. Fryer Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1HT Refugee Week multimedia exhibition
Published on Mar 5, 2017
Collectivism is an arts, community and social action magazine. This IWD edition celebrates female led initiatives and projects impacting Wol...