1mile² Waltham Forest took place between October and December 2009 with a series of workshops and field sessions coordinated by local arts manager Frances Bowman. The activity was led by local artist Rayna Nadeem, ecologist Annie Chipchase (Groundwork London) and international artist Shaw (Xu Zhifeng) from Shanghai.
The programme took place in a square mile within the Cann Hall / Cathall, Grove Green and Leyton wards of Waltham Forest, centred around Langthorne Park, for local residents and primary school pupils.
Rayna is an artist filmmaker working in the public realm using primarily digital arts and video. Her work addresses the social fabric and urban semiotics of city life, looking at the relationships between people, the environment and the architecture of a place. She is particularly interested in the beauty found in the overlooked, hidden, disregarded or post-industrial parts of the landscape.
Rayna’s practice is largely site specific and often participatory: the interaction with local communities becoming integral to the making of each work whether through the re-telling of their stories, sharing of memories or inclusion of their images.
Her work is frequently exhibited in public art projects and screenings and she recently was artist-in-residence at the largest public cemetery and crematorium in the UK (London E12) which culminated in screenings on site and at Stratford Picturehouse.
Rayna is a second-generation Pakistani artist who has previously worked with Barking and Dagenham and Watford Councils and holds an MA in Art and Architecture from the University of East London. www.dekkoproductions.com
Visiting Arts confirmed Groundwork London as the Ecology partner and Annie Chipchase as the Ecologist in July 2009 following research into and discussions with organisations and individuals operating in the Borough. Annie is a consultant ecologist with a keen personal, professional and academic interest in the urban environment and environmental sustainability. She has worked with many national and local environmental organisations and local authorities to deliver conservation management plans and ecological advice, especially in relation to urban development, regeneration activities and brownfield sites. A former lecturer at the University of Greenwich and Capel Manor College, Annie has extensive experience of educational work and is a trained teacher. She has developed and run ecology theory and practical courses for adults and young people. Annie has extensive experience in undertaking habitat surveys, environmental impact assessments, environmental audits and BREEAM assessments, as well as leading practical conservation work. She has completed borough habitat survey for Tower Hamlets and Newham, Phase I Habitat surveys, EcoHomes surveys, environmental audits, management plans, run training courses, and delivered environmental education to young people and adults including practical conservation work for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), London Borough of Hackney and local voluntary groups.
Shaw (Xu Zhifeng) is a site specific live installation artist whose work crosses the boundaries of socially engaged practice, architecture, sculpture, photography and video. In exploring the relationship between people and the built and natural environments, he challenges perceptions held by the individual and the community and seeks the inherent beauty of communities in transition. His most recent work Kiosk is a collaboration with artists in Shanghai, Cologne and Liverpool which will see neighbourhood archives installed to record the cultural practices and hidden life of the community. The kiosks will record sound scapes, visuals and the stories of the local people and act as a collective memory of both people and place.
Shaw trained in architecture and design and has previously worked on a project mapping the human intersection of Scotland’s major cities: Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 2009 he participated in a workshop in Chongqing entitled “Transforming Public Space” http://cq.qq.com/tps
His work, Urban Pilgrimage, took place on a site cleared for the construction of the Shanghai World Expo 2010. The evening before the final building was torn down, a group of participants were taken on a journey to the newly developed Pudong area of Shanghai. There they watched the last family left in a typical 1980’s Chinese workers’ housing block having dinner on the top floor. As dusk fell, the installation of 70 florescent lights became a voice for the final beauty of this ordinary looking building and the stories of its people. Nearby the neon clock counting down the 1429 days to the opening of the Expo, flashed in sharp contrast highlighting the contrapuntal pull between tradition and progress. The light installation became an ethereal ritual for the city reflecting the issues of demise, migration and regeneration.
All the primary and secondary schools in the square mile area were contacted through the Waltham Forest Arts in Education Network. Sessions were set up and took place with 150 young people at Cann Hall Primary and Riverley Primary.