Bringing ArtBank to Clapham Park

This article was written by Semira Badesha, who has been working with Clapham Park Creative Co-op for the past four months as a Digital Production Assistant (thanks to Government Kickstart funding).

This summer at our project Clapham Park Creative Co-op, we created August Art Month to reunite the Clapham community through the arts. The month was all about gaining new creative experiences, supporting local artists, and socialising with neighbours after a period of on and off lockdowns.

One of our most anticipated events was the Clapham Park ArtBank. The concept of ArtBank was originally created by artist Christopher Green in response to the pandemic and the loss of connection with local arts. ArtBank hopes to address this issue by creating intimate sessions between artists and audiences so they can connect in a brief yet immersive creative exchange.

ArtBank at Clapham Park invited five artists to a community space, with members of the public booking in for a ten-minute slot with each artist. Taking inspiration from the ArtBank toolkit, we recruited five artists from the local area with varying creative practises to add to the richness of the experience. We were excited to be able to support local creatives by providing this as a paid opportunity, thanks to our funding from Metropolitan Valley Housing. We featured:

  • Cindy Lilen– A textiles artist exploring communication through the ancestral techniques of weaving
  • Roger Hunte– A musician teaching the art of Djembe drumming
  • Prema Sundararajan – A visual artist creating a character-based world, Planet Miko
  • Anita Agarwal– A multidisciplinary artist focussing on storytelling through performance, moving image and installation
  • Xavier Sole– A visual artist manipulating playfulness to engage audiences

We carried out four ArtBank sessions throughout the day on Saturday 21st August, with our earliest session starting at 10am and latest starting at 4pm, in hope of reaching as many community members as possible. The event was suitable for all ages to encourage families on the estate to join and to make it an accessible experience for all. The beauty of the ArtBank was that regardless of age and background, participants could engage with all of our artists.

“I liked that this event was in my local area. I really valued the range of artists that were sharing their skills with us and no two experiences were the same!”- Participant

The artists themselves found the event hugely beneficial too:

“It’s rare to have an opportunity where as an artist you are exposed to such a varied audience. I found the ArtBank really valuable as I saw how different people engaged with my work”- ArtBank artist[

When planning for the event, keeping everyone COVID safe was one of our biggest concerns. We overcame this by holding the event in Clapham Cube; a large community hall which enabled social distancing and good ventilation. We also provided hand sanitiser stations, disposable masks and face shields to those attending. An issue we did not predict however, was rotating people every ten minutes to the next artist. A number of participants were often too engaged to rotate when required, which led to the session running overtime. For those planning on organising an ArtBank, we would recommend stressing the importance of timing at the beginning of each session and perhaps having a loud bell-like noise to create a sense of urgency when the ten-minutes is up.

Our ArtBank was a very exciting event that brought together the Clapham Park community through the arts, something which is often missing in local communities. We would highly encourage other community groups to organise such an event, as locals not only found it to be an inspiring experience, but one where they gained new creative skills and were exposed to local talent.

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