ASEA: Collaboration, Unity, A Space In Between

Week 8: Collaboration, unity, a space in between

At the final session in the last week of October, we meet at P21 gallery and work in the space that the exhibition will be held. We are joined by two artists and Tara. During introductions the group are asked to think of an image from nature. They respond with sea, sun, hailstones, wind, tree, mud in the riverbed, an anthill, a meerkat destroying an anthill, herbs- rosemary, mint, and a waterfall. They are asked if there is anything they would like to do or that we need to cover in this last meeting? One of the group members wants to play ‘wink murder’ so we start by playing a still and a moving version of the game. We then use the natural images they offered to flow around the large space and embody the sun, sea, wind, hailstones etc…

We move on to the final collaborative piece in the presence of two artists, one English, one Arabic, both of whom are also graffiti artists. The group decide to bring to life the first two lines of the poem ‘The Will to Life’ in Arabic and English. They each choose the language they would like to work with and decide between themselves which words they want to work on. They are reminded that they may incorporate other languages and images into their work. After they finish, they put all their pieces together in the centre of the room and explore how they want to display it. They discuss the exhibition of their work taking place on 12th November at P21 Gallery and sketch out a preliminary plan for that evening.

We close the group by walking around the gallery and journeying through the last eight weeks- words, images, art, games and poetry are all displayed on the gallery floor. The closing circle is held around their final piece and each group member is invited to give a statement. Gratitude is expressed in a number of ways and languages and we end with several rounds of applause for ourselves and the artists who have joined us.

As at the end of every group, we eat dinner together.

The Arab Spring, English Autumn project was initially offered with dualities and polarities in mind and with the media as a focus. The participants chiselled, carved and shaped it into their own space, a place where young people, faced with multiple constructions, narratives and impositions upon their identities, could be liberated through creativity and imagination and come together with a sense of unity and community. They transcended physical space and entered a liminal, transitional space where metaphor was often used- trees, roots, rivers, sun, water, journeys, paths, darkness, light and ‘being in a space between river banks’. On reflection there was no Arab Spring, no English Autumn but, to quote a group member, an ‘alternative’ Summer.