A summary evaluation of the 2009 programme by Chrissie Tiller, Director of the MA in Cross-Sectoral/Community Arts at Goldsmiths College, and Donna Vose.
Contents Image credits and acknowledgements
Appendix 1: 1mile² Outputs
Appendix 2: Stories from the website
Image credits and acknowledgements Old Dhaka through new eyes, Dhaka © Anisuzzaman Sohel
1mile² branded rickshaw, Dhaka © Tayeba Begum Lipi
Guerrilla gardening, Waltham Forest © Rayna Nadeem
Move the Nation, Johannesburg © Lee Griffiths & Sandra Hall
‘Togetherness’, Johannesburg © Daniel Zoous
Mrs Guo, Shanghai © Richard Layzell
The Bank of Reason, Edinburgh © Susan Poupard
Portrait, Smethwick © Arif Mahmood
Japanese script on a taxi, Tehran © Kianoosh Vahabi
Okhla landfill site, Delhi © Kelda Free & David Brazier
Local artists and delivery team, Karachi © Shahana Rajani
Alternative fuel, Delhi © Kelda Free & David Brazier
Seeds of Avicennia marina and Rhizophorum, Karachi © Rumana Husain
Trace of a mudskipper, Karachi © Fraz Mateen
Kiran Khamb, Smethwick © Melanie Tomlinson
Malati Gadgil (Chintan) with participants, Delhi © Chintan
Opening’ Joubert Park and Johannesburg Art Gallery © Lee Griffiths & Sandra Hall
Fish to the river, Shanghai © Richard Layzell
Connections map © Visiting Arts
Map the Nation, Johannesburg © Lee Griffiths & Sandra Hall
With sincerest thanks to Priya Devaraj, Dee Dhara, Sadia Khan, George Khosi, Ben Matongo, Thomas Musubi, Susan Poupard, Ayesha Sultana, Lena Theodoropoulou & Rachel Toogood.
Foreword 1mile² inspires communities to explore the cultural and ecological diversity of their neighbourhoods through artistic engagement. Artists and ecologists collaborate and lead activity that enables vital dialogue and knowledge sharing within and between cultural and geographic communities. Objectives • To inspire participation in the arts and enable learning opportunities for communities and artists • To promote biodiversity and sustainability through increasing a shared understanding of our connected local and global environment • To improve understanding between people of different cultures through increased dialogue and trust within and between communities • To measure and promote a better understanding of the relationship between culture and the environment In 2009, the programme involved 31 artists, 15 ecologists, 11 creative organisations and reached nearly 13 000 people in 8 countries. Evaluation data was collected by delivery organisations, Visiting Arts, and a team of six volunteers conducting interviews to benchmark attitudes. The following report analyses the ways in which artists, ecologists and cultural organisations have enabled people to engage with the themes of culture and biodiversity over the past year. From being named as one of the top ten cultural events of 2009 in Bangladesh to changing the way people think about the plants commonly found in their own cities, 1mile² has reached a wide range of people from high level decision makers to young people in schools.
Old Dhaka through new eyes, Dhaka
Executive Summary Programme development 1mile² was developed following research into sustainable communities by Visiting Arts. Recognising that communities face increasing instability through the impacts of migration, climate unpredictability and the destruction of local habitat, 1mile² sees environmental action and social cohesion as interdependent. The programme focuses on a number of locations in the UK and internationally and asks people to map the culture and biodiversity of their neighbourhood: this engagement giving rise to empowered and shared responses to local issues. Parallel national and international programmes offer an insight into other communities facing shared concerns, helping to break down negative stereotypes through intercultural collaboration. Location and context 1mile² took place in ten neighbourhoods: Bradford, Edinburgh, Smethwick and Waltham Forest in the UK with international projects in Delhi, Dhaka, Johannesburg, Karachi, Shanghai and Tehran. Each square mile contained different topography. In the UK, Bradford, Edinburgh, Smethwick and Waltham Forest were all within large metropolitan areas, but each of them had a distinct identity. In Bradford the square mile in Little/Great Horton is an inner-city immigrant area that still contains reminders of its traditional farming and textile past. In Edinburgh, the old marketplaces of the city centre and ‘lost’ public space, in Smethwick the re-discovered habitat of the canal side and in Waltham Forest an urban residential area bordering on Wanstead Flats. Internationally, the square mile in Dhaka included the polluted riverbanks of the old city, in Delhi the downtown landfill sites, whilst in Karachi the terrain included the rapidly disappearing mangroves. Joubert Park was a once green oasis currently being reclaimed by the citizens of inner city Johannesburg; Xuhui in Shanghai is a highly populated area of itinerant workers and migrants, and the Navvab neighbourhood in Tehran an example of structural urban regeneration that has divided residents. People and reach 1mile² aims to bring together people from across cultural and social backgrounds into a shared intergenerational context. In the UK, the programme involved people representing 30 countries of ethnic origin and 52% of participants were under 25 years and 12% over 60 years. 54% were female and 46% male. Globally, participants were of all ages from 1-102 speaking at least 38 languages and representing at least 33 countries of origin. Delivery Partners The programme was delivered in partnership with a range of arts organisations and individual artists, ecologists, local authorities, arts councils, the housing renewal pathfinder Urban Living, British Council, DCMS and Arts Alive in South Africa. What happened Participants took part in a wide range of artistic and ecological workshops and other activities. These ranged from a two-day locally made herbal tea tasting stall in Bradford to guerrilla gardening in Waltham Forest: from self-portraits of displaced young people in Dhaka to sound mapping of the ecology and culture of Shanghai South Railway Station. In Delhi one of the highlights was an exhibition of the photographs taken by the Khirkee waste-pickers, in Johannesburg the ecology and art making walks through Joubert Park that attracted over 100 participants.
Key Findings Participants The eagerness of the different communities to explore the ecology and diversity of their own neighbourhoods was remarkable. For many, the opportunity to meet new and different people was one of the most frequently cited outcomes, making an important contribution to the programme’s objective of strengthening intercultural understanding. Equally important was participants’ growing determination to take action to improve their local environment. 1mile2 recognises that regular groups will build and develop over time but is already making an impact in neighbourhoods. Artists Artists with a background in socially engaged practice brought a rich diversity of approaches to the programme, being skilled at adapting activities to the needs of the local community. Many were particularly inspired through their collaboration with ecologists, learning and responding creatively to new discoveries about familiar neighbourhoods, and a number of successful partnerships were established. 1mile² encouraged artists to engage more directly with people and place, bring fresh insight and reinforce positive messages about cultural identity whilst counteracting stereotypes. All the artists valued the impact this had on their own work as well as their work with participants. Ecologists Important learning took place by exploring cultural diversity and biodiversity as part of the same programme. The ecologists all commented on the power of the artistic intervention in communicating environmental messages and the artists on the impact ecological learning had on their own work. An added richness came through their capacity to work within the built as well as the natural environment and they clearly influenced participants’ growing commitment to their neighbourhood as well as their eagerness to gain further knowledge of ecological issues. Discoveries, such as a species of butterfly that was common to both Smethwick and Karachi, also widened the potential for sharing connections between the UK and the international communities. Outputs 1mile² saw 708 contact hours with participants over the equivalent of 12 weeks. 87 temporary jobs and 12 volunteer opportunities in the creative sector were created. Nearly £100,000 of income was levered from non-cultural sources and the programme had good print and online media, radio and television coverage particularly overseas. Since the website launched in March 2009, it has received visits from browsers in 72 countries. Asia & Oceania Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand
North & Central America & Caribbean Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, United States
Europe Austria, Belgium, BosniaHerzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales. South America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica
Middle East & North Africa Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, UAE
Sub Saharan Africa Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Participants Key Findings
Public interventions enabled 1mile² to reach a wider audience Opportunity to meet new and different people cited as a major outcome People want to learn about the ecology and diversity of their neighbourhood Participants' attitudes to neighbourhood has shifted particularly towards its ecology Participatory groups will build and develop over time
To what extent were the programme’s objectives met? Public Engagement 1mile² engaged people local to each community through events, structured workshops, activities for community and education groups, online presence, open days, and public interventions. One of the major successes of this pilot stage was the number of people who engaged with the project: the public nature of many of the interventions meaning activities reached a wider audience than originally estimated. For example, 1mile² Dhaka held a public open day with events and exhibitions in 19 venues across the square mile in Old Dhaka, buses being provided to transport visitors from the meeting points at Britto Arts and the University of Dhaka every half hour. The open day which attracted radio, print and TV coverage and an audience of around 10 000 people, was recognised as the biggest public art programme in Dhaka’s history and named one of the top ten cultural events of 2009 by Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star.
1mile² branded rickshaw, Dhaka
In many of the projects a regular workshop structure did not suit the exploration of cultural and environmental issues envisaged and the flexible approach of delivery teams working on the ground, allowed artists to explore an exciting range of interventions. Although this meant it was not always possible to gather the baseline data originally expected, different methods of recording learning and possible attitudinal shifts were explored.
Intercultural understanding Across the programme, participants represented a rich cultural diversity.
Bradford: participants from 15 ethnic groups, aged 1 - 80 years Edinburgh: participants from 10 ethnic groups, aged 8 – 70 years Johannesburg: participants from 9 different towns or cities Shanghai: participants from 17 different cities or provinces Smethwick: participants from 11 ethnic groups, aged 1 - 70 years Waltham Forest: participants from 12 ethnic groups, aged 5 - 60
As frequently as increased creative skills or ecological knowledge, participants cited the opportunity to get to know different and new people as being one of the most important outcomes of their engagement with the programme. Most were aware of the diversity of their neighbourhood in broad terms, “There are so many different communities here [in Edinburgh]. Everyone’s different, no-one’s the same.” In feedback, over 50% of participants refer to the knowledge they have gained of other people either in their neighbourhood or in another community during the project. This included developing "a new understanding of people" from "different backgrounds" and "different nationalities" and, in Delhi, beginning specifically to "value the people who work at the waste collection centre." One of the Shanghai participants states that the most important insight she gained from working with the international artist, was learning that: "foreigners pay attention to social issues (we can learn from them)". Even when participants were not born in the square mile, most felt part of their local community, and had favourite places they would like to take visitors. In the case of 1mile² Shanghai this was frequently the South Railway Station, a place whose cultural diversity and immigrant population became central to the artistic interventions.
Ecological Impact 75% of participants specifically valued the opportunity to become more aware of the diversity that already existed in their neighbourhoods: “There are lots of places I haven't explored yet myself...It's only now with this project that I've had a chance to see the canal. I didn't know it existed and I was wow, all this is here!" At the same time they were keen to learn more, such as in Bradford: "I like the idea, it’s good to focus on the area and the focus on food within that, that’s an idea I’m interested in, and mapping food and documenting places.” One of the participants from Johannesburg explains the change this investigation made to his behaviour: I learnt a lot in this project, the likes of recycling. I didn't know that you can make new-looking items from things that are found in the bins! I saw it happening with my naked eye and so from there onwards, before I throw away something in the bin, I need to check if there is nothing else I can make with it or take it to the place where it can be recycled like The Greenhouse which is on my way to and from school. I hope to catch up the next part of these workshops and learn more. (Nonthokozo, Johannesburg) Participants became more aware of what they would want to do to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. In Shanghai, conscious of the effect of pollution on their environment, including the state of the rivers, many noted this as a problem to be tackled. All participants wanted to make their neighbourhoods cleaner and greener, whether this was planting wildflowers on wasteland in Waltham Forest, stopping people spitting in Shanghai streets or teaching people how to grow food in Johannesburg and Bradford. 7
Guerrilla gardening, Waltham Forest
What factors contributed to this happening? The enthusiasm of people to learn more about their own neighbourhood was well tapped in all of the projects, as the numbers of people attending public events demonstrate. In most square miles there was a diversity of activities and a good range of possible routes into the project. Ecologists noted the value of the artists' role in making environmental issues more accessible to participants. This emerges in participants' website contributions as well as their feedback in interviews and questionnaires. Most of the international artists also valued the specific focus of the 1mile² brief in encouraging them to engage with participants in a particular context and this guided their approach; "For me personally it has been the invitation...to focus on cultural diversity, biodiversity." (Richard Layzell, Shanghai) The willingness of artists, ecologists and local teams to be flexible in their delivery contributed to the success of this stage of the project. Artists were willing to explore a wide range of working styles particularly when met with circumstances that may have challenged their expectations. These resulted in a rich diversity of responses that has been recorded through the wealth of visual and written material on the website and on people's individual blogs. This material is an excellent resource for the next stage of the project.
Challenging social boundaries The artists in 1mile² Johannesburg connected residents from the affluent Parkview suburb to the project, by requesting donations of flowers from their gardens for the more deprived area of Hillbrow. The artists then photographed young people holding the flowers and created a postcard which was distributed around the city.
Move the Nation
A second intervention invited Parkview residents to take part in a walking tour of Joubert Park with local children from Hillbrow acting as their guides. The experiences enabled participants to challenge the social and cultural barriers related to public space in Johannesburg.
‘Togetherness’ Joubert Park
Recommendations In years 2 and 3, it is recommended that Visiting Arts looks at the ways in which 1mile² can build on the wider interest generated in the first year to ensure there are core groups meeting regularly who can engage with the issues at a deeper level. This may well be easier in the next stage as there are now some established groups. Note what was achieved in terms of wider participatory, one-off interventions and find ways of measuring participant responses in this context. Many artists and ecologists felt these events led to more satisfactory outcomes: especially in alerting large numbers of people to the environmental and cultural issues of their neighbourhoods. For evaluation purposes it is useful to have groups who participate long term to measure the affect engagement has on shifting attitudes but it is also important to capture the impact of one-off interventions. Engage local delivery partners more actively with the evaluation and in working with a range of methodologies to capture different impacts. Collective Gallery suggested one way to do this would be to monitor local blogging sites to "capture intangible outcomes such as the general public’s photographs”. Build on the artists' learning from the pilot stage by using some of the same individuals who have experience of the brief and can take a lead on the kind of interventions that will work best in particular contexts.
Artists For information about the participating artists, please see: http://www.square-mile.net/ContentPage.aspx?ContentID=572 Key Findings Artists used a diversity of approaches to engage participants The importance of the role of artist as outsider, enabling participants to have fresh perspectives and insights into familiar places The success of a wide range of interventions, including larger scale public sphere activity, which added to the impact of the project Artists were inspired through collaboration with ecologists and felt this would influence their future practice
To what extent were the programme’s objectives met? Local artists were part of the team for each square mile, in most cases these were individuals with knowledge and experience of community practice local to the participating neighbourhoods. In Edinburgh and Johannesburg this role was taken on by a pair of artists for whom collaboration was consistent with their practice. In eight of the projects, international artists were also present for a minimum of six weeks with pairs of artists working collaboratively in Delhi, Edinburgh and Johannesburg. The model was altered in Karachi and Tehran due to social and political conditions. Movement restrictions and security issues which meant engaging a consistent group of participants was not possible and so a group of local artists undertook an investigation of the square mile: four artists in Tehran and five artists and one art critic in Karachi. Arif Mahmood, international artist for 1mile² Smethwick, participated as one of the local artists in Karachi and in Tehran UK artist Andrew Dodds made a short research visit of 10 days and presented work for the final exhibition. The role of the artist is to collaborate with the delivery team and ecologist to develop a programme of activity that responds to and extends participants’ interests and skills and inspire people to engage in the programme’s themes via creative processes. Artists were selected because of their commitment to both socially engaged practice and the ecological agenda.
Ms Guo, Shanghai South Station public toilets
Artists used a range of creative practices. Digital media played an important role in seven of the projects, as a tool of investigation, documentation and an art form. Artists also drew on installation, site-specific work, large scale interventions, ceramics, craft, metalwork, sculpture, performance, storytelling and writing. Traditional workshops were combined with a wide range of activities such as the walks in the Joubert Park (Johannesburg), the tea tasting stall (Bradford) and the Bank of Reason procession (Edinburgh). These were highly effective in arousing curiosity and engagement within communities and responded to the specific of location and requirements. In seven of the projects, international artists used public interventions to broaden the scope of activity working with humour, mystery, play and surprise to challenge perceptions.
The Bank of Reason, Edinburgh
Flexibility was crucial between the local and international artists in enabling them to respond positively to the challenge of "simultaneous collaborations and ideas exchange". And the need for "diplomacy and compromise" was paramount. One of the most successful partnerships between the leading artists was in 1mile² Johannesburg where it was acknowledged that two pairs of artists “could cover a lot of ground”. Local artists Anthea Moys and Kyla Davis use play and performance whilst Friction Arts (Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths) use socially engaged processes to make work in challenging public spaces: their combined approaches and practices were noted as “an incredible synthesis”. Both pairs of artists were prepared to challenge their own expectations of what they could achieve especially in engaging local people with the work. This fusion of approaches resulted in participants having multiple routes into the programme and quickly increased the impact of the project by increasing its profile and reach. One important outcome is the number of artists who expressed an active desire to: "engage more with ecological/environmental issues in my work in the future." The collaborations between the local artists and ecologists were a particular success. In Smethwick, local artist Melanie Tomlinson worked closely with ecologists from the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country to design and integrate the creative and ecological aspects of the project. She noted that participants were “interested in exploring and learning about their local area” and that the Wildlife Trust’s activities “opened everyone’s eyes to what was on our doorsteps”. Many of the international artists describe the "unique" possibility to look into, rather than at, a community and to focus their work on a clearly defined neighbourhood as being a powerful part of their creative experience: the nature of the square miles themselves contributing to this intensity. All were places of cultural diversity, migrant populations and, often, great poverty, frequently 11
"forgotten"" or "unvisite ed" by tourissts and the wealthier in nhabitants of o other parrts of town or o nearby cities. Artists noted ju ust how mucch can be le earned, "ab bout a whole e society fro om studying g one square mille so closelyy". They alsso spoke off ways in wh hich this intimate relationship with h place allowed the em to challe enge old pre ejudices ab bout these areas: a efore I came e, I heard so omething no ot very good about Bra adford, but I felt the oth her Be wayy around affter the resid dency.... pe eople are friiendly and nice...I n loved d the fact it’s verry easy to get g to the na ature, and th he food, it’s so diverse too. (Chen Hangfeng) Or highligh hted parado oxes such as the poverrty and high levels of po ollution in S Shanghai alongside the wealth of local pro oduce at the e market, orr the proxim mity of culturral groups in n Smethwic ck: ocal and from m outside I think the to own is a littlle outside or ignored fro om Beiing a non lo the e rest of the geographyy where I am m located i.e e. Birmingha am. The co ommunities havve a certain n closeness and at the same time a tension between themselves. (A Arif Mahmood)
Portrait, S Smethwick
As artists they t were also a able to highlight wh hat might ha ave been lo ost in our ow wn rush tow wards the 21st century, "Edinburgh has reta ained the hiistory of ma arket space (through sttreet names s etc.) m T This loss and the impac ct on the su urrounding ccommunities s became without rettaining the markets." further app parent durin ng discussio ons at the Scottish S Storrytelling Centre with eld der residents which felt like, "lisstening to a different to own." The intenssity of the exxperience also a produce ed an emerg ging sense of belongin ng to the neighbourh hood in which the interrnational arttist was bas sed. As Ricchard Layze ell commentted in his performancce lecture: Eve ery day my experience e deepens. Every E day a new disco overy, a new w connection. I und derstand a little l more. I see a little e more. This s is my squa are mile. hat, even in those squa are miles where it had proved What was also intriguing and excciting was th impossible e for an international arrtist to particcipate, the local artists seem to ha ave taken on this mantle of the t outsiderr of seeing the t place fo or the first tim me. Wheth her it is discovering the abundance e of edible plants p in Bra adford or in n pondering the Japane ese script on n taxis in Te ehran. 12 2
Japanese script on a taxi, Tehran
What factors contributed to this happening? Those partnerships that were successful were often those where the traditional notion of the participatory workshop was remodelled and different kinds of interventions explored. This was particularly notable in the Johannesburg project: We took a proactive role… [and] cast our nets wider, rather than deeper, and tried to get as many people involved as possible, with the potential to grow some participants through the process. (Sandra Hall, Johannesburg) Being asked to interact directly with a distinct area clearly added to the richness of the experience for many of the artists, "it feels like an incredible privilege to be given a defined area like this to explore in a city like this, and I can completely understand the motivation for this project,” as did the requirement to interact with the local ecology, "working with an ecologist was very positive". This aspect of the project notably alerted artists travelling outside the UK to ways in which other cultures are dealing with ecological issues that are increasingly becoming the concerns of 21st century Britain. The artists visiting Shanghai and Delhi, for example, were both struck by the place of non-petrol vehicles, in particular bicycles, in people's lives there."There are cycle lanes as wide as minor UK roads." (Richard Layzell, Shanghai) And, even more importantly, the crucial role that recycling played in these societies. The informal nature of the recycling that goes on has been a huge shift in perception regarding human consumption, cycles of waste through the city and the waste pickers' role within that cycle, i.e. human life processes and adaptation". (Kelda Free, Delhi)
Okhla landfill site, Delhi
The privilege of being in the position of the artist who is able to become both part of the community and remain an outside observer is mentioned in all the artist' evaluations, from interactions with the Ukrainian community in Bradford, to discussions with Ms Guo who ran the famous public toilet in Shanghai South station to gaining the trust of the teenagers who run the waste collections in Dhaka. It is interesting to note that "listening" is named under the list of creative practices used in more than one project. The place of the artist as outsider emerged as a powerful one in all the projects: sometimes encouraging communities to look at themselves in new ways, sometimes prompting artists to look back at their own societies differently. It is clear that the opportunities that 1mile² offered its artists to engage with the neighbourhood and the community often offered insight into people and place that is not always possible for those living there. Exploring the square mile with an English artist, I have been affected by his nostalgic feelings. He said he would miss the local produce that can be bought in nearby food markets; he liked it that people went out wearing pajamas; he admired the way we recycle, which the ‘Advanced’ West has failed to do effectively. Maybe in this fanatic rush for development, we have neglected the casualness and intimate human touch that are equally important, if not more so, as we move forward into the 21st century. Maybe for China, it would be fine not to change so fast. (Clara Ye, Shanghai participant) In Karachi and Tehran, the absence of the international artist seems to have strengthened the local artists' ability to meet this brief. Here taking on the mantle of the outsider created powerful new insights into local issues: “the challenges I faced as a local artist was feeling sometimes out of place in my own city. This is a positive challenge though."
Recommendations Important to the success of 1mile² is that the artist is open to looking at the neighbourhood in a new way by working with the ecologist. The team in Karachi demonstrated that this openness can be achieved even when an international artist isn’t present. 14
Local artists and delivery team discussing initial ideas, Karachi
In Johannesburg, Shanghai, Bradford and Waltham Forest larger scale actions were more powerful in reaching different groups of participants than the traditional workshop model. In Delhi it seemed that "less formal interventions, interactions and encounters with the community were as successful or occasionally more successful than formal workshops in mapping aesthetic and cultural diversity". As this was so often the most effective way of engaging with local communities, it suggests that future stages of the project might want to build on these kinds of interventions. The tea tasting at the Christmas Markets in Bradford provides an effective model of such an intervention in the way it provided a forum to collect a rich source of people's stories, cultural histories and ecological knowledge, introducing visitors to teas brewed from local herbs and flowers and using cups donated by members of the community who had linked them to their own lives. The making of the ‘public statements’ in Shanghai "using sign boards in Chinese saying ‘foreigner’ ‘I wish I could speak Chinese’ ‘I love China the way it is’...." and the first public walk in Joubert Park in Johannesburg that brought together residents from very different social groups, gave the projects' profile and developed awareness in a wider context.
Ecologists For information about the participating ecologists, please see: http://www.square-mile.net/ContentPage.aspx?ContentID=573 Key Findings The significant learning gained from exploring cultural diversity and biodiversity together Recognising the power of artistic intervention in communicating ecological messages The richness of working within the built as well as the natural environment Participants’ commitment to their own neighbourhoods and their eagerness to gain further knowledge and awareness of ecological issues The potential for sharing approaches and connections between the UK and international communities Ecologists with a range of expertise worked across the square miles. The programme used individuals and environmental organisations local to each community who were able to offer specialist knowledge, education and facilitation skills. The focus of the ecological investigation was determined by the location of the square mile. Common themes, among the wide range of topics that participants engaged with, included air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, local food and community growing schemes, recycling and waste management, species identification and habitat conservation, and urban encroachment. Activities included discussions, field trips, flora and fauna identification, guided walks, guerrilla gardening, habitat improvement, mapping (audio & video), storytelling, willow weaving, and workshops teaching people how to grow their own food and use wild plants for food, medicine and tea.
To what extent were the programme’s objectives met? All the ecologists were surprised by what they were able to discover by focusing on a single square mile. "Although knowing some of the 1mile² open space quite well, it was still surprising to get a more detailed view of the area." (Paul Stephenson, Smethwick) In Bradford, focusing on the streets, parks, markets, waste land and university campus that made up the square mile allowed Ethnobotanist Charlie Gray to reinforce “the connections between ecology and people”. Through the project she was able to engage people from a greater number of cultural origins than previously and “gain some understanding of their sense of themselves as people of diverse origins within the same square mile and their connections through plants”. The cultural and social diversity of the neighbourhoods had partly been expected but the ecological diversity of what might have seemed unpromising at first sight often came as an added bonus: "The biodiversity of the place is astounding. So is the cultural divide between two communities residing there. The waste picker community and the others." (Chintan, Delhi) The ability of the ecologists to inspire new learning for both artists and participants around this diversity emerges strongly in their feedback, as does their recognition that art can help communicate the message acknowledging "the capacity for artistic interventions to engage people with ecological issues."
Â Â Their contribution to the "deep mapping" of the neighbourhoods clearly informed the creative responses of the local and international artists as well as the richness of the images and text placed on the website. Especially strong are those pieces that highlight the uneasy juxtaposition of the local and the global environmental issues in many of the square miles. In New Delhi, Chintan highlighted the complex paradoxes between old and new ways of living: To the south sits the imposing Mall, a beacon of international consumerism. Across the road (on a vacant piece of government land soon to become a multi story car park) live a group of horsemen and their families...Cow dung is made into patties and used as an alternative fuel for cooking when wood is scarce. A row of these patties with what looks like a KFC bucket template line the footpath on the North side.
Alternative fuel, Delhi
In Dhaka, this paradox is evident in the potent contrast of the images of the green forest reserve, where the indigenous Mandi people still manage to live in close harmony with their surroundings, with the huge waste-tips which form the greater part of the Old Dhaka neighbourhood. The effect of urbanisation and population density on biodiversity became a prominent theme across the international projects: Once lush mangrove marsh, Mai Kolachi has been reclaimed into a barren wasteland landfill. The only signs of vegetation are the wild shrubs scattered here and there. It is a more common sight to see broken glass, wrappers, plastic bags rather than leaves. (Shahana Rajani, Karachi) The image of the seeds and saplings of new mangroves emerging from this wasteland thus becomes a potent symbol for both artist and ecologist. And, just as in Dhaka, the conflict between the desire for protecting such habitats and their economic value in providing an income for the people who live there provoked much debate.
Seeds of Avicennia marina and Rhizophorum, Indus river delta, Karachi
In all the projects outside the UK there is a very vivid sense of the ecologists' drive to work with the artists as observers and recorders of the tension between people and the land: For us ecology is not academic. It is a practical issue and revolves around humans fit in urban ecology. For example, less waste generation, more organic food gardens, green buildings, renewable energy, rain water harvesting and grey water treatment. (Mabule Mokhine, Johannesburg) Across all the square miles, ecologists noted the enthusiastic interest participants took in discovering and learning about their neighbourhoods and there is a sense of people becoming more open and sensitive to their surroundings. In the UK this often focused on sharing ‘lost knowledge’ about the connections between people and plants: “elderberries as an ointment for skin treatment, tap birch and drink the sap in the spring time and use lime flowers as a relaxing tea". This greater level of awareness led to many discussions through which ecologists were able to pass understanding on to participants in the project: Fraz found the mudskippers on the marsh very interesting. They are amphibious fish, which are able to live in water and on land.... Like humans, they are always looking for chances to further expand their territory. Thus for Fraz, the habits of these fish echo those of people in our mile square, who have constantly encroached the land. (Shahana Rajani, Karachi)
Trace of a mudskipper in the mangrove mud
What factors contributed to this happening? Being able to work alongside the artists and to explore their way of working with both the subject matter and the people had a great impact on the ecologists. Charlie Gray explains that this experience will: “certainly develop my own practice.... to be more accessible... People are interested in ‘biodiversity’ but it is hard to access without formal education about it – art breaks down these barriers." Learning how to work together, in enabling this process to happen was also important: "Initially knowing how to work with the artist and to ensure this was a collaborative effort and participatory project – it has been essential to ‘have faith’ in the process and allow some things to emerge naturally – informing but not dominating the process". The possibility to introduce their work to a wider public through such partnerships also alerted them to the possibility of engaging people more deeply with local issues. Many of the successful interventions, in the UK in particular, took the form of interactive local walks, and this clearly proved a successful way of getting people to "discover" their neighbourhoods, encouraging them to want to go on and learn more: A great success was the interest expressed by participants and the fact that many said that they were not aware previously of the environmental interest but did want to visit and explore their local areas more in the future. (Nicky Simpson, Smethwick) Finding ways to capture and make meaning of the connection between people and their environment and the complexities of biodiversity in very different contexts has been an important contribution to the learning of the project as has the recognition that different cultural groups have different approaches to environmental challenges.
Kiran Khamb, Smethwick
Recommendations Time of year was clearly important to the ecologists. Although seasonal changes in the UK do not have such a dramatic impact as in some of the international square miles, running the projects concurrently may need to be reconsidered. The ecologists also echoed the need to have more lead-in and preparation time mentioned by the artists: "I would make sure there is more time (for artists and ecologists) to build relationships and share ideas before the project went public." What emerges very strongly from the work uploaded to the website on the part of the international square miles is the close relationship between the biodiversity of neighbourhood ecosystems and the wider global context. There is a global sense of urgency in the need for change and for the lessons that can be learned from a range of community models. This was less clear in the UK projects and a greater degree of interaction between the communities through investing further in the website would provide this broader contextualisation. The role of the website is being examined by the Visiting Arts team and its functionality will be looked at in more detail but its potential for making UK participants more aware of the way their environmental choices might impact on the biodiversity of the rest of the globe is evident. The role of the UK ecologists in achieving this may need to be expanded.
Delivery Organisations Key Findings Organisations involved were able to reach new groups and audiences, extending their reach into communities Delivery teams were able to share skills and approaches to socially engaged practice Teams were keen to ensure continuing engagement with the website Local activity was coordinated by delivery teams in all the square miles. In most cases this was undertaken by an arts organisation with strong community links and experience of international working. Budget restrictions in Bradford and Waltham Forest meant a reduction of this role and local organisations were contracted to host international artists with either the local authority or an individual managing the day-to-day logistics. The delivery organisation was responsible for finding participants, facilitating sessions with the public, health and safety, logistics, maintaining communications with Visiting Arts, scheduling, supporting artists and ecologists, and ensuring engagement with the website. A range of organisations were selected: from established venues such as Collective Gallery in Edinburgh to partnerships such as that between non-building based social research practitioners like Hybrid, and Ulfah Arts who work with people from different faith groups. Of the international projects, two were delivered by artist-led contemporary arts organisations (Delhi and Dhaka), two by arts venues (Johannesburg and Shanghai), one by a critical arts agency (Karachi) and one by an art and architecture platform (Tehran).
To what extent were the programme’s objectives met? Reaching new communities, new audiences and engaging new people with both artistic and ecological activities was one of the major successes in all projects. A number mention the diversity of the groups getting involved. The local artist, international artists and ecologist were working with a diverse group(s) of people that included local healers, children, communities of waste pickers as well as local shop keepers etc. (Latika Gupta, Delhi)
Malati Gadgil (Chintan) with participants, Delhi
Breaking down social barriers and reaching communities other than the wealthier middle classes, who might already be engaged with art or aware of ecological issues was especially important in some of the square miles: Outside studio art practice that is not showcasing artwork to the elite society - that is a new challenge, experience and happiness. Getting to know new communities...making bridges between two parts of Dhaka. Building relations through art within the neighbourhood that are so close but too far from each other at the same time. (Tayeba Begum Lipi, Dhaka) In many of the projects, working with groups who without the 1mile² interventions might not otherwise have participated was a significant impact. I think the biggest change has been a social one. The adult community surrounding our gallery were apprehensive about visiting the gallery. I think they now see that they are welcome and that it is a safe and open space. (Antoinette Murdoch, Johannesburg)
‘Opening’ Joubert Park and Johannesburg Art Gallery
There was a clear commitment on the part of many of the delivery organisations to carry on these activities in some way: "We also hope to continue the...local radio programming and broadcasting, the cricket match series in the communities". (Latika Gupta, Delhi) In Johannesburg this continuation was realised through the project mentoring two local volunteers, one of whom, Ben, continued to work with participants to contribute their stories, images and ideas to the website with the support of Johannesburg Art Gallery and Visiting Arts.
What factors contributed to this happening? Discovering new ways to work with different communities and to bring together very different groups, such as newly arrived and established communities in Smethwick, seems to have been one of the most important factors in the success of 1mile².
In a number of the projects it was clear that the higher level of experience of socially engaged practice of the UK artists added a great deal to the impact of the project for artists as well as participants. The thought process and the progress of most participants amazed me. It was a brain storming progression... working with people from different societies and communities. The seriousness of ...participants and...the involvement of the communities are the success of this project. (Tayeba Begum Lipi, Bangladesh) Discovering broadened methods for engagement widened the impact of the project. With the development of the workshop, it involves more and more concepts such as design, ecology, architecture, sounds, etc. Every participants share their experiences and knowledge. The project became not only about nature but also people’s behaviour and their life. When the UK artist arrived, I found it become more social project. And I liked the way he was running it. We have participated in a lot of local activities. (Felix Xu, Shanghai) All mentioned the crucial role that "visible activity" had in drawing people to the project and that having public events was vital for increasing the numbers of people reached and multiplying the overall impact of 1mile².
Fish to the river, Shanghai
Recommendations The need to have more lead-in time was seen to be paramount for delivery teams and local partners although this might not be so pressing at the next stage. The idea of using same pool of artists across three years to maximise learning and existing relationships was, however, seen as a good way to ensure that projects did not have to, "start at the beginning every time". It was noted that there would be a great deal of value in artists being "able to re-visit their work” so that “reflection time is built into the process." An alternative solution 23
of using the same pool of artists but enabling them to, "side-step to different square miles," was suggested to encourage the development of comparative perspectives as a way of deepening the impact of 1mile². A major challenge identified by delivery teams was seen to be the website where the available technology and capacity in many of the international square miles varied significantly to the UK. In Johannesburg, the majority of participants did not have “internet access or basic computer training” and so online contributions were restricted to project sessions at Johannesburg Art Gallery. One of the local volunteers took on the role of working with participants to post group and individual contributions and other communities, such as Smethwick, elected to contribute both communitylevel and individual images and text to share their experiences. In Shanghai and Tehran, facilities for uploading videos were banned and alternative file-sharing sites needed to be provided, impacting on the beginning of the project. The feedback at this stage suggests there is real potential for 1mile² to have a long term impact and it is recommended that the role and functionality of the website be strengthened particularly in the following areas: 1. Improving site navigation, accessibility and sign posting 2. Creating response facilities to allow participants to engage directly with each other’s postings 3. Integrating use of the site more into the workshops and other activity 4. Improving upload facilities and file sharing with other websites and online facilities 5. Functions to assist with data capture for evaluation through online polls and surveys
Connections map, www.square-mile.net
Appendix 1: 1mile² Outputs (UK | 2009) Bradford (Great Horton / Little Horton) 98 participants, 6 community events, 5 workshops, 2 public events September – December 2009 Local artist Yan Preston, international artist Chen Hangfeng (Shanghai), ecologist Charlie Gray working with Delius Arts and Cultural Centre
Launch event at Delius Centre Community events including activity at Great Horton Community open day and the Ukrainian Centre elders group exchanging local knowledge, stories and discussing the uses of plants Local walks, exploring and recording ecology through photography, film and discussing the natural / human landscape ‘Door Spotting’ walk mapping the built environment and wildlife around the square mile co-led by local historian Nafees Nazir Workshops with local University of Bradford students exploring biodiversity, green trails, biomass energy and local food Screenings of Hangfeng’s short film Santa's Little Helpers at Delius Arts and Cultural Centre and on the Bradford Big Screen 2-day stall at the Christmas Markets where the community contributed recycled decorations to a Christmas tree and tasted teas made from local herbs, sharing recipes, remedies and stories Press releases for Yan Preston, Chen Hangfeng and Charlie Gray Print article: “Artist to connect area to the world” in Telegraph & Argus 14/11/09. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=23
Edinburgh (Central) 118 participants, 7 community and education events, 3 workshops, 4 public events, 2 talks September – December 2009 Local artists Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich, international artists Sreejata Roy & Mrityunjay Chatterjee (Delhi), ecologists Sam Harrison (Open Ground) and Heather McHaffie and Cathy Bell (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) working with Collective Gallery
Project launch at Collective Gallery Bank of Reason series of walks, talks and discussions focusing on the economic and ecological past and present of the square mile over 4 days Engaging Edinburgh College of Art students in programme themes and activities Banner and costume making workshop Public procession with the Bank of Reason banner, talks and collecting responses Presentations from invited speakers including David Korowicz (Feasta), economist Robert Morris (University of Edinburgh) and Tim Nichols (Brixton Pound) Partnerships with local organisations such as Old Town Development Forum (Julie Logan) Participatory audio art intervention designed by Natalie Wilson & Andrew Thomson (ECA) Sound, still photography and video recording of participants’ responses to themes contributing to the Bank of Reason juke box Story telling workshops in local market places and at a drop-in session at Collective Gallery Presentation about 1mile² Edinburgh at Scottish Sustainable Development Forum’s networking event for sustainable businesses and environmental agencies Story collecting workshops at Southside Community Centre with elder community and with Nelson Hall Community Centre heritage group Participant-led exchange of stories and local myths at the Scottish Storytelling Centre Press releases for Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich and Sreejata Roy & Mrityunjay Chatterjee. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=21
Smethwick (Cape Hill / Windmill Lane, North & West Smethwick) 59 participants, 22 community workshops, 4 education sessions March – June & September – December 2009 Local artist Melanie Tomlinson, international artist Arif Mahmood (Karachi), ecologists from The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country working with Hybrid and Ulfah Arts
Regular workshops with a core group, the Bangladeshi Islamic Centre youth groups and with Brushstrokes: a local centre for newly arrived and refugee communities Creative activity including paper making, plaster casting, collage, metalwork, self-portraiture and lamination workshops based on local ecology and community Series of 6 photographic workshops with Arif Mahmood Local ecology walks and field sessions in local parks and the Galton Valley canal network involving the recording of local flora and fauna Living willow sculpture and bird-box making workshops Publication of Invisible Boundaries: Arif Mahmood’s photographic essay of 1mile² Smethwick Press releases for Melanie Tomlinson and Arif Mahmood Radio broadcasts on Unity FM’s The Arts Show on 26/02/09 & 05/03/09 Print article “Community Renewal News: 1mile² Smethwick” in Regeneration and Renewal. Print article “Getting creative in the neighbourhood” Urban Living News March 2010 http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=20
Waltham Forest (Cann Hall, Cathall, Grove Green, Leyton) 164 participants, 7 community activities, 6 education sessions, 2 workshops, 1 talk September – December 2009 Local artist Rayna Nadeem, international artist Shaw / Xu Zhifeng (Shanghai), ecologist Annie Chipchase working with project co-ordinator Frances Bowman
Project launch at the Pavilion, Langthorne Park Presentation of Rayna’s film A13: Road Movie and discussion with participants Presentation by Annie on ecology, habitats and adaptation and discussion with participants about the correlations between human, animal and plant behaviour in urban contexts Guerrilla gardening intervention on local wasteland, planting wildflowers, identifying species 5 workshops in 3 local schools for young people aged 6-7 exploring habitats Presentation and discussion with art students at London Metropolitan University Participant-led walking tours to unrecognised areas of the square mile examining the meaning of place using audio recording "Homewalk" intervention where local residents were asked to invite Shaw into their homes, collection of stories and images followed by installation of balloons on chimneys and rooftops Press releases for Rayna Nadeem and Shaw Radio interviews on Resonance FM’s Bob and Roberta Smiths Radio Show on 13/11/09 and 04/12/09. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=22
1mile² Outputs (International | 2009) Delhi (Khirkee, Malviya Nagar, Okhla, Satpula) 112 participants, 8 community / education activities, 6 workshops, 2 public events, 2 talks September-December 2009 Local artist Aastha Chauhan, international artists Kelda Free & David Brazier (UK), ecologists Chintan working with Khōj International Artists’ Association
Video workshop at Okhla landfill site Photo workshop with Khirkee wastepicker colony Portraiture workshop with local photographer Naresh “Give a dog a bone” intervention, streets of Khirkee and Malviya Nagar Cricket poster and t-shirt design workshop with Khirkee wastepicker colony Call centre research and discussions with students about cultural perceptions of India & UK Radio broadcasting research and discussions with community radio specialists Workshops with alternative medical practitioners, small business owners & residents creating content for radio broadcast Community interactions focused on raising awareness of their contribution to global ecological issues using storytelling, film and photography Parallel workshops with waste-pickers from the Select City Walk shopping mall Discussion with wastepickers about their contribution to protecting global ecology in the run up to UN Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen Twice-daily radio broadcasts of Satpula Super Series and Muft ki Salah (alternative remedies) 3-day community exhibition of Khirkee children’s photography Exhibition of Kelda & David’s work Cricket match commentated by local radio announcer and film actor Saleem Zaidi Presentation and discussion by artists and delivery team at Khoj Press releases for Kelda Free & David Brazier and Aastha Chauhan. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=28
Dhaka (Old Dhaka, Modhupur) 118 participants, 20 workshops, 7 community / education activities, 2 talks, 1 public event September-December 2009 Local artist Mahbubur Rahman, international artist Syra Miah, ecologists BELA working with Britto Arts Trust
Discussion led by local historian Taimur Islam of Urban Study Group Discussion led by Syeda Rizwana Hasan of BELA Digital image and sound workshop mapping the built environment of Old Dhaka Video art workshop mapping the canals of Old Dhaka Artists’ talks Documentary film making exploring ecological and urban issues in Old Dhaka Weeklong photography workshop with Mandi people in Modhupur forest Self-portraiture and photography workshops with the Tukai children (wastepickers) Kite making workshops with school children and children who live between the railway tracks Puppetry workshop with children from local school exploring the built environment Workshop at Oikatan (art school) exploring recycling and the relationship of people to the river Interviews with migrant Mandi women working in Dhaka’s beauty parlours Open day with exhibitions in 19 venues across Old Dhaka and television coverage Press conference 2 December and newspaper articles in New Age, Daily Star & Dhaka Mirror 12 minute radio interview Press releases for Syra Miah and Mahbubur Rahman. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=27 27
Johannesburg (Joubert Park, Hillbrow, Newtown) 156 participants, 12 community / education activities, 4 talks, 3 workshops, 2 public events September-December 2009 Local artists Anthea Moys & Kyla Davis, international artists Friction Arts (Sandra Hall & Lee Griffiths), ecologists The Greenhouse Project working with Johannesburg Art Gallery
Launch event at JAG with audience from Park View, Newtown, Hillbrow and Soweto 5 distinct and connected interventions in Joubert Park, George’s boxing ring, at Greenhouse Biodiversity walks to identify plants and trees with expert Sean Hide, song workshop using Xhosa, Zulu & English, discussion and sharing stories about what trees mean to local people Discussion dinners with artists, community activists, ecologists Site visits to ecology/educational and community groups including Beizendhout Food garden, The Curve, Friends of the Inner City, The Greenhouse Project, 350 project, Feitas Festival Painting, writing, photography and story telling workshops at JAG Food growing workshops at Greenhouse Workshops with libraries art group Recruitment of 6 regular volunteers: Ben, Daniel, Thomas, Nolan, George and Bule Media studies lectures for students in Soweto & Alexandria led by Friction Arts Final exhibition linking Joubert Park and JAG Final workshop for artists, sharing the learning at Suikerbossie National Park 5 postcards produced and distributed as legacy x 1000 Press releases for Friction Arts and Anthea Moys & Kyla Davis E-updates on http://www.joburg.org.za/ (official website of the City of Johannesburg) http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=31
Karachi (Mai Kolachi) 61 participants, 5 community / education activities, 3 talks, 2 workshops, 1 public event November 09-January 2010 Local artists Arif Mahmood, Shazia Zuberi, Adeeluz Zafar, Nameera Ahmed, Shahana Rajhani & Fraz Mateen, ecologists from Shehri, IUCN Pakistan & Shirkat Gah Urban Resource Centre working with Nukta Art
Five local artists working on responses to the destruction of the Karachi mangroves and its effect on the ecology of Mai Kolachi, through photography, video and installation Field trip to the Indus Delta, led by IUCN Pakistan, to see effects of industrialisation on Korangi Creek mangroves and discuss the importance of mangrove forests on Pakistan’s climate, ecosystems and fishing industry Talk led by Najma Sadeque, Director of Green Initiatives Project at Shirkat Gah Screening of two documentaries on negative changes to farming & fishing practices through multinational corporation control, increased urbanisation and people displacement Talk led by Arif Hasan, renowned urban planner, on the impact of urban encroachment on waterways systems and the permanent loss of biodiversity in Mai Kolachi Talk led by Roland D’Souza, former chair of NGO Shehri – Citizens for Better Environment, on overconsumption and waste disposal in wetland areas Exploration of the old city and the impact of city development plans on its ecology Discussion on the conflicting needs of people and the environment in Mai Kolachi and the precedence that recurrent violence and unstable politics takes over environmental concerns Gallery visits and talks for Karachi School of Art, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Karachi University, secondary school students from Karachi Grammar School, Indus Academy, CAS School and Intelligence School
Workshop with Government Girls School exploring the mangroves, with craft activities using recycled materials, illustration, storytelling and photography. Students contributed natural objects with personal meaning to the final exhibition Workshop for University fine arts, architecture, design, engineering and media studies students exploring artist interventions with ecological issues, producing critiques of the work in the exhibition and discussing the relationship between aesthetics and ethics and the social responsibility of artists and architects 7-day public exhibition at Arts Council with works from the local artists and panel discussions Newspaper coverage in Daily Times, Daily Messenger, Dawn, The News, Jung & Nawa-e-Waqt Commissioned critical space article by Niilofur Farrukh in Dawn. http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=29
Shanghai (Xuhui district, South Shanghai) 44 participants, 8 workshops, 7 community / education activities, 4 talks, 2 public events September-December 2009 Local artist Yin Yi, international artist Richard Layzell, ecologist Professor Shen Ji working with Shanghai eARTS
Weekly workshops with local participants using sound to map and understand the ecology, cultural and aesthetic diversity of the square mile Primary school mapping and drawing workshops and site visit to Shanghai South Railway Station Field recordings mapping the sound ecology of Longhua Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs, Kangjian Park, Guilin Park, Longying Road, Caobao Road, Hongmei Road, Humin Road, the Middle Ring elevated highways, the Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway & Shanghai South Railway Station Interventions with migrant workers, park users, English language students, taxi drivers, elder community and other local people Schools visit to Shanghai eARTS Discussion around the conflicting opinions / representation of biodiversity levels in Shanghai Performance lectures at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Xin Dan Wei by Richard Layzell Press releases for Richard Layzell and Yin Yi. Diary blog by Richard Layzell http://rescen.net/blog_richard/ http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=26
Tehran (Navvab, Laleh Park) December 2009-April 2010 Local artists Bijan Moosavi, Mahmoud Bakshi, Mehrdad Afsari & Neda Razavipour, international artist Andrew Dodds, ecologist Bahram Zehzad / Plan4Land working with Kianoosh Vahabi
Series of debates, discussions and exchanges Field visits to locations across the square mile to map biodiversity and urban regeneration using film, photography and sound 360º video filmed by Bijan to map the Keshavarz Boulevard Photographic mapping of the Navvab highway by Mehrdad Research visit for Andrew Dodds 20-29 January Sharing events with other local and guest artists Public exhibition at Azad Gallery of video and installation work examining human relationships with space, reality and nature on the theme of Sizdah be dar (the traditional day of nature marking the end of Nowrooz festivities) Public interaction in Laleh Park to coincide with the exhibition http://www.square-mile.net/Community.aspx?MileID=24
Appendix 2: Stories from the website (selected case studies) 1mile² Johannesburg | Nourish the Nation | Lee Griffiths | 08-10-09
Kyla and Anthea with participants
We made our first group intervention yesterday in Joubert Park, which was a great success. ‘Nourish the Nation’ saw us giving out freshly squeezed orange juice to some of the denizens of the park in exchange for stories about their ’safe’ and ‘dangerous’ places in the city. We would offer the orange juice and, as we would then begin to squeeze the oranges, which took some time, ask them to write their name on a luggage label and on the back an example of a safe and dangerous place in the city. Johannesburg, we are consistently told, is one of the most dangerous cities, with one of the highest murder rates in the world, and you can go from feeling safe to, literally, turning a corner and feeling unsafe indeed. Joubert Park is seen as a ‘no go’ area, particularly for white people (we haven’t seen a single one in two weeks), and we wanted to investigate this, whether it is a perception, or whether it is true. To be honest, if we hadn’t been accompanied by George, who is a boxer and has arms like tree trunks, I don’t think we’d have been as relaxed about the experience as we were. But we had a great time, it was incredibly joyous, with people queuing up to take their juice and give us their stories, and most happy to have their photograph taken. Highlights included Timothy, who lives on the street now (as a result of being shot and losing his job) in the Hillbrow area of the city, highest on peoples list of dangerous places – who wrote beautifully and told us a series of stories about his Jo’burg, and Nana, a young girl who spoke eloquently for such a small girl about her fears for her city. It was very emotional and revealing and the process of listening to the people made the whole experience so complete. A beautiful piece of work, and a fitting start to our interventions. Next week we will be appearing in Georges outdoor boxing ring in the very same Hillbrow area which is top of the danger list, where we are preparing a ‘dance off’ in the boxing ring. Many of the participants from ‘Nourish the Nation’ have promised to be there. I love this place.
1mile² Johannesburg | Elijah Real Life postcard 2 | Lee Griffiths | 11-11-09
This postcard shows an image from our second intervention, 'Move the Nation'. It shows Elijah, the 'spirit' of the project, who attended every intervention. He is a reformed tsotsi or criminal, with a checkered past, but had a life-changing experience whilst hearing of Mandela’s release from prison on a hidden transistor radio in his prison cell. He told us of how, after serving time in a prison in Jo’burg, it was closed down shortly after his release. He then broke back into the prison and continued to live there for five years. Such are Jo’burg stories, but now Elijah is a positive and spiritual person and only wants to make sure that young people do not have to have the same experiences he had as a young man. An inspiration to us all, of the possibilities of change and redemption. We were only going to produce four postcards, but had to use this picture, as we loved it so much. Elijah
1mile² Bradford | What is beauty/biodiversity? | Yan Preston | 05-11-2009 Today we had our project launch, it’s the first time the project faced the general public and potential participants. Charlie and I had already collected about 200 autumn leaves and pressed them in books. We made these into leaf curtains, and asked people two questions: “what is biodiversity?” and “what is beauty?” Their answers were written onto the leaves. Around 40 people came to the event; many were students from the University of Bradford, which is only 5 minutes walk away from Delius. Some were local residents, and some from local community organisations. We had some really interesting conversations with them. It seems that most people were very interested in growing things, and many asked if we’re doing some ‘physical’ things with the project, for example planting trees, having an allotment or an exhibition. However, to our surprise, many struggled to answer the question about ‘biodiversity’. Originally we thought this is a common topic mentioned frequently in the media, so everybody would know something about it.
Project launch at Delius Arts & Cultural Centre
After the launch Charlie and I re-considered our approach. This event has been really useful for us to find out what local people think about our project themes, and we can certain know more about it. We have decided to do more public days and have made good contacts with a couple of community groups; hopefully we can develop some workshops with them.
1mile² Smethwick | Collage close ups 2 | Smethwick Community | 31-05-09
The material for our collages consists of photos taken across Smethwick that have been colour enhanced and maps of all the national and international 1mile² areas. We used special stamps and dyes in the shape of flowers and insects found within our square mile to punch and cut out different shapes from the photos and maps. Each butterfly or flower is patterned with images taken by the group and imagery from the maps. A butterfly might be quite small so only show a hint of a section of map or a bit of a photo of lichen or moss. The collages link Smethwick and the world through use of local imagery such as sari patterns, relevant flora and fauna shapes and other urban and natural textures.
1mile² Dhaka | Modhupur forest project | Mahbubur Rahman | 15-11-09
Â Â Artists from Bangladesh, England and Germany spent a week near the forest reserve about 150 km North from Dhaka to meet the Mandi people living there and work with natural material to raise awareness about Mandi culture and environmental issues. They discussed with them about the situation of the Mandi people, culture, economics, religion, transmission of local and traditional knowledge. A meeting with the oldest member of the community, aged 105, gave a unique opportunity to understand the evolution over a century from a hunters and gatherers society living in the jungle populated with rich wildlife to a Christianized farming society under huge economical pressure and facing strong prejudices. In the last 30 years the primitive forest has almost disappeared.
Map the Nation: connecting rings of a baobab tree Johannesburg
An overview of the 2009 programme.