Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences (2019), is an Arts Council England funded socially engaged artwork developed in collaboration with June Hill and Leigh Bowser. Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences: LWC is then developed as a singled authored artwork specifically for the outdoor environment of the London Wetland Centre (LWC) as part of Wetlands Unravelled, a yearlong contemporary art programme that aims to showcase extreme or conceptual craft in a site-specific context. The project is made possible by funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Area of the Arts Society, and supported by Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (Spring/summer 2020).
The artwork presents examples of research designed to facilitate the empathetic imagination through stitched-based practice and communal making. The process of social engagement is fundamental to the research; it is not just a means to an end but the non-material relationships are part of the journey through which positive and intangible experiences are explored. Much of the artwork is impermanent or given away, so the website documents the process and capture it for the reader.
Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences formally commenced on 3rd December 2018 and ended on 24th April 2019. In total approximately 63 participants took part in our activity with some hoping to continue meeting after the project’s completion in their own homes, many of whom had not engaged in such activity before and valued the wellbeing aspect of the project. An on-going display of the project at The Storehouse (at their request), which is a hub supporting vulnerable individuals and communities across Bradford (those affected by poverty, discrimination by race, gender etc), has been agreed (from January 2019).
A long-term aim is to support others working at grassroots level in communities who may not have arts training to create their own Blue Plaques workshops and share outcomes and resources with a wider community. For example, an interest in workshops being presented in communities with grassroots groups has been developing, as part of this Leigh Bowser has delivered the activity to ESOL groups at Community Works Foundation community centre in Bradford (beginning June 2019).
I am now developing Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences at London Wetland Centre (LWC). The LWC is a person-made site, carefully managed to encourage selected species to thrive. But beyond the human experience this site is a zone of conﬂict where battles such as native vs non-native, wild vs managed and change vs preservation are played out. These conﬂicts are not straightforward to resolve; but through offering shared spaces for stitchery to take place my contribution hopes to prompt creative debate with participants that are intellectual, physical, ethical and moral.