The ambitious project was commissioned to celebrate local community history in collaboration with the London Festival of Architecture and Aldgate BID.
Date: 15 September 2023
Throughout July 2023, London Met students ran a number of workshops and performances in Aldgate, facilitated by London Festival of Architecture (LFA) and Aldgate Business Improvement District.
The installation space, titled ‘On Tentergound’, located at Toynbee Hall on Commercial Street, paid tribute to the area’s 17th century garment industry roots.
‘On Tenterground’ served to host workshops and performances including storytelling sessions, pop-ups, and performances run by London Met MA Public Art and Performance students, to accompany the exhibition of works co-produced with the local community.
The ambitious project was conceptualised and launched through a successful partnership between the LFA, Aldgate BID and London Met School of Architecture, Art and Design. It is one of four installations commissioned in partnership with the City of London BIDs.
Dr Jacek Ludwig Scarso, MA Public Art and Performance Lead, commented: “Over the course of three weekends, the students delivered a vast range of art activations and participatory workshops, connecting with the community in Aldgate at the beautiful installation. It’s a proud moment – to see how art can inspire meaningful conversations and bring people together is a pleasure. It’s why we do what we do.”
Ludwig continued: “It’s projects like these that become vital assets to our delivery, making courses like our MA Public Art & Performance truly unique and providing great opportunities, both on a professional and human level.”
The commission of the space, designed by Ciaociao Design, uses everyday materials including scaffold and nylon fabrics, which will be repurposed and recycled after use.
A diverse programme of artistic activities, brought to life by London Met students, showcased important themes of belonging, identity and personal histories, in relation to the cultural fabric of the neighbourhood around Mallon Gardens in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Engaging with the environment
The summer event series was designed to foster communal nurturing, growth and sharing. Additionally, the aim was to spark conversations around sustainability and ecological concerns facing the community and beyond.
Working alongside the MA students, this project was facilitated by Dr Anna Marazuela Kim, Jen Ng, working alongside Chao Gao, Zoe Barwick and Lydia Chapman, with further support by Andrew Siddall.
Tales of (UP)Rising, an art workshop delivered by Paul Duffy, aimed to celebrate the importance of the textile industry in Tower Hamlets and recreate the environment of a cutting room of a sewing workshop.
Dr Anna Kim, Associate Lecturer for the module that developed the winning bid, commented: “Rather than using conventional techniques for exhibition, the intervention aimed to cultivate an open space for sharing and expressing views around the complexities of individual and communal urban life, engaging the community in co-creative workshops and performance to foster meaningful connections and broader conversations. It also served as a platform for the development of collaborative projects that capture the spirit of the neighbourhood and its surroundings.”
Anna added: “teaching this module on Public Art, Funding and Commissioning for the first time presented the opportunity to revise it according to my public-facing work on the role of arts and culture in thriving cities, and to build upon the strengths of existing partnerships developed by the AAD’s Projects Office. Rather than the usual, speculative exercise of applying for a grant, we pitched the students’ proposals to a live project, Aldgate Connect, and remarkably, we won. It was a terrific opportunity for this MA cohort to test their ideas in the real-world context of a complex, collaborative operation subject to all of the vicissitudes of city planning, and they rose to the occasion wonderfully well. We owe a huge thanks to our wonderful Partners at LFA and Aldgate Connect, and everyone on the team who brought this to fruition, but especially to the students.”
For more information about the MA Public Art and Performance course, please visit the university website.