The British Council has worked with Create London on Housewarming, a programme of virtual residencies that have connected three international artists/designers and three East London arts organisations for 6-week long residencies.
While originally planned and developed as physical residencies COVID-19 prompted a reconfiguration of Housewarming that allowed the artists to continue their residencies remotely from their home countries. The project maintains the essential relationship between the residents and the London-based host organisations: Blackhorse Workshop, One Of My Kind (OOMK) at Rabbits Road Press, and Hoxton Gardenware at Troy Town Art Pottery, to create new and significant works for the British Council’s new global headquarters in Stratford.
The use of digital and online technology has allowed for a different form of exchange, which has been crafted through conversations in response to the unique circumstances of each residency. The final objects have been developed in collaboration with the host organisations and advised by Create and the British Council. The research and fabrication of works are informed by ideas, subjects, and themes pertinent to the community and areas local to the host organisations, as well as the experiences of the residents in their current locations. During the residency period, the selected artists/designers have also been sharing skills and collaborating with local groups via online platforms.
This new iteration of the residency has created a connection between local communities in east London with international artists / designers still operating within the context of their hometowns: Lahore, Mumbai and San Miguel de Allende. It charts the conditions of developing new work within this truly global context and continues an international dialogue which has become vital at a time when travel has been restricted. We have gained invaluable insight into the responses and experiences of the residents and hosts, as well as supporting their ability to continue to work during this extraordinary moment.
We have be posting regular updates on our social media channels showing the development of the residencies and the experiences of the artists and hosts.
The selected artists / designers are:
Sakshi Gupta (Mumbai, India) is an artist whose practice answers pertinent questions regarding waste, recycling and obsolete technologies as well as the natural world’s relationship to the manufactured through the sculptures that she creates. She specialises in building ‘emancipatory sculptures’ out of industrial waste, metal scrap and other leftovers of industrial growth in a form of art often referred to as ‘poor art’. Sakshi Gupta has been collaborating with Blackhorse Workshop to create a light installation for the British Council’s new atrium area.
Shehzil Malik (Lahore, Pakistan) is a designer and illustrator with a focus on human rights, feminism and South Asian identity. She is an internationally published book illustrator and leads a studio that works on social impact projects and collaborations in fashion design, publication design and branding. Shehzil Malik has been working closely with Rabbits Road Press and artist collective OOMK on producing wall prints for the new building.
Daniel Valero (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico) is a ceramicist and textile designer who describes his practise as grounded in collaborations with craftsmen from rural communities. Valero’s work is informed by on-site research with an ethnographic approach. He has directed furniture studio Mestiz since 2015 with the aim of developing innovative pieces using the region’s artisan traditions and techniques. Daniel has been working alongside Troy Town Pottery to produce ceramic planters for the new office area and outdoor terraces.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. They were founded in 1934 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1940. The British Council creates friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. It does this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries they work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.
The British Council works with more than 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, the English language, education and civil society. Last year, they reached more than 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall, including online, through broadcasts and publications.
Blackhorse Workshop is a public place for making, mending and learning. With on-site technical assistance and a fully equipped wood and metal workshop, you can use the facilities with the support of Industry expertise and a community of makers.
The project was commissioned by Create and originally developed by the architecture and design practice Assemble, in collaboration with local artists, businesses and community organisations. The workshop is now an independent, not-for-profit organisation, which was set up for the purpose of running and managing the workshop with the support of a board of trustees.
Located in an area rich with Arts & Crafts and manufacturing heritage, Blackhorse Workshop is a new kind of public building that re-imagines the role of production in the city, providing a social working environment with an emphasis on collaboration and dialogue between makers.
The workshop offers wood and metal working equipment, shared workspace for both professional and occasional users, and a regular programme of classes and activities aiming to support and disseminate the practice and culture of making.
Rabbits Road Press is a community Risograph print studio and publishing press run by artist collective, One Of My Kind (OOMK), situated within Old Manor Park Library. With a focus on facilitating original work between local community groups and artists in and around the Old Manor Park Library, the small-scale publishing press prints artist work and custom-bind zines and small publications on demand.
A responsive events programme explores a contemporary model for community publishing that brings together artists, designers, writers and local people in Newham. A scheduled programme of print production workshops, drop-in tutorials, and artist talks guide participants towards developing their ideas into printed form and de-mystifying the print production process. Artist-led workshops explore a range of themes and techniques and aim to familiarise participants with various elements of design and publishing while free weekly drop-in sessions offer a space for visitors to work on self-initiated projects.
One of My Kind (OOMK) is a collaborative publishing practice led by Rose Nordin, Sofia Niazi and Heiba Lamara. Working together since 2014, they make, publish and distribute books and printed works which arise from self-initiated projects. They also commission new works by women artists and co-curate DIY Cultures, one of the UK’s largest annual independent publishing fairs.
Troy Town Art Pottery was founded by London-based artist Aaron Angell in 2013 in response to dwindling ceramics access in London. The pottery provides a space for artists to explore the practice of ceramics, removed from the idea of production and function that is embedded in the history of the medium.
In 2016, Create worked with Angell to construct London’s only publicly accessible gas-fired kiln. Based on Hoxton Street, Troy Town has also hosted Town Gas, a project run by and for young adults aged 17 to 24. The group learned to hand build ceramics, create glazes and operate the gas kiln.
Create and Troy Town launch Hoxton Gardenware, a new young people’s initiative to design, make and sell terracotta gardenware that will become a standalone social enterprise. Proceeds will support the ongoing development of Hoxton Gardenware, providing paid work for the young people.
Housewarming is kindly supported by Art Fund.