Giving new meaning to the word ‘canvas’, the immensely popular In-Tent-City project culminated in a vibrant, thought-provoking show in South Park, Oxford in September 07. The outstanding success of this project has been the participatory experience and coming together of diverse community groups, who were able to express their thoughts and views in a dramatic and creative way, each tent making a strong visual statement with a commanding physical presence. The project has been incredibly well received and as a result continues to create further interest and projects, inspiring related works and touring exhibitions.
Artists worked with community groups to transform 12 tents, each based on a different theme to reflect each organization, and decorated inside and out by community groups and schools. The specially created tent panels, made from a variety of materials including textiles, netting and found objects, explore themes such as Freedom, Well Being, Inclusion, Refuge, Tribe, Peace, Shelter and Friendship. Other tents, made by primary schools from the Headington and Isis Partnerships, take their inspiration from the collections in the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The idea behind the project stems from a previous project Fusion delivered in March 2004 – The Oxfordshire Peace Tent (see ‘Threadz’ in the projects listing)
The Peace Tent
In-Tent-City is a development on the ‘Oxfordshire Peace Tent’ which was created to celebrate cultural diversity and peaceful co-existence in the wake of the war on Iraq. 10 artists worked with 100’s of participants representing at least 23 countries and a range of religions to create a richly textured and colourful 3m x 6m tent, which has now become a community resource for events and activities of all sorts.
The Schools Tent
Artists: Emily Cooling, Jane Carey, Sarah Hulme, Clair Aldington, Helen Jacobs, Helen Duncan, Steve Empson
School children and artists produced three tents building on ideas from an inset day for artists and school staff at Pitt Rivers Museum, using the treasures and objects in their magical collections, followed by an after school session for each school group. The visual artists working with performance artists to prepare for the In Tents Festival, which took place at the Oxford Community School in June 2007. The tents were part of the setting for a series of artistic performances by the children. Look out for the totem pole, the Pitt Rivers building and drums from around the world!
The Inclusion Tent
Artists: Emily Cooling as lead artist, and many more
This tent involved Parasol, who have produced a great deal of varied, textile based artwork through their sessions with disabled and abled young people. Lead Artist Emily Cooling engaged family groups and combined the pieces to complete the interior of the tent. Parasol work with a variety of youth groups to support the inclusion of disabled young people into mainstream play scheme provision.
The Freedom Tent
Artist: Wendy Markham
Artist Wendy Markham created a visual timeline of the history of the slave trade for the inside of the Freedom Tent, which commemorates the ending of the slave trade and the ongoing struggles toward the emancipation of enslaved Africans. Wendy created panels through photo transfer and other artistic techniques, drawing from historical archives and other sources. The Freedom tent is produced in partnership with ACHKI.
The Friendship Tent
Fusion worked in partnership with the Oxfordshire Befriending Network (a charity working with volunteers to support families experiencing terminal illness) to create The Friendship Tent with their staff, volunteers and clients. The works created for this tent examined issues around life: celebrating life and preparing for death.
The Refuge Tent
Artists: Madi Archarya-Baskerville, Mohammed Bushara, BKLUWO, Esmee Philips
The Refuge Tent has been created in partnership with Refugee Resource. The artists and the participants worked around the idea of refuge through painting, sewing, printing and through the creation of netting interwoven with found and personal items. Refugee Resource is a voluntary agency which aims to relieve distress, improve well-being and facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers – primarily in Oxfordshire – through the provision of practical, social and psychological support.
The Shelter Tent
Artist: Ed Hart and sound artist
The Shelter Tent was developed in partnership with Oxford Night Shelter and acted as an exhibition space for Fusion’s photography project by homeless people, working with a photographer and a sound artist. Photographer Ed Hart ran sessions with several young homeless people and users of Oxford Night Shelter. They utilised photography as a means of capturing and exploring their daily experiences.
The Tribal Tent
Artists: Karen Godwin plus BLAG artists
Blackbird Leys Community Development Initiative is a community charity based in Blackbird Leys. The theme they explored was roots: roots of the individual and the roots of a community. The Tribal Tent will be celebrating the 50 years of Blackbird Leys. They run Youth Projects for young people aged 9-19, including arts, sports and multi-media. BLAG artists Karen Godwin and Debbie Scrivener are beginning a programme involving young people, family groups and older people on the Blackbird Leys estate.
The Well Being Tent
Artists: Wendy Markham, Ally Butler, Jen Chamberlain, Di Birch, Lizzie Burns.
Wendy and Ally led silk painting workshops with adults in the early stages of dementia for a panel on the theme of nature and landscape for the Well Being Tent. Lizzie Burns has started a residency with the Children’s Hospital School. Di Burch and Jen Chamberlain are working with patients from the Nuffield Enablement Centre. The Partner organization is the Arts and Health Network.
The project was funded by Arts Council England.