Tuesday, 25 March 2014

"My Redbridge" art project changes lives.

The "My Redbridge" project began in 2010 and has seen a flourishing of art in our borough.  The project had a simple vision which was to tackle the ongoing lack of public creative art investment in Ilford South's deprived communities.

The lead group for the project is the East Ilford Betterment Partnership who were a group created by Redbridge Regeneration Department under the auspices of Beverly Stratton.  They were originally a Local business partnership but as more local residents filled the membership, the group focus changed.

Our project plan was to utilize the skills of experienced and accredited artists from different spheres, to develop art opportunities for children and young people primarily form the wards of Loxford, Clementswood and Mayfield, in particular those from impoverished backgrounds. We did not just want our projects to be a series of art classes, but for each art event to lead to public works of art to inspire others to try something new and encourage communities by instilling a sense of pride for their local areas. We also desired to create culturally enriched communities, with stronger cohesion, tolerance and knowledge of their local heritage.  

Community consultation played a large role in the work that we have completed so far.  Our first project the Redbridge Peace Monument took two years to complete and initial designs provided by the artist were rejected several times.  We held four Community Consultation meetings, and consulted with over 72 different people form the local business and residential community and finally decided on the existing design.  Moreover a public poll indicated that 86% of Ilford Recorder readers approved the project.  The installation of the main structure on September 20th 2011, five years after the murder of Kashif Mahmood was attended by over 5000 people, during Redbridge's first ever outdoor public event for the London week of peace. Two years later 22 children had their mosaic designs inserted into the base of the monument.  After having attended a week long art workshop at Clementswood Community Centre.

Wilson Chowdhry meets mother and father of slain teenager Kashif Mahmood at Redbridgse peace monument located at the location of his murder.  Parvin Mahood, Mary Foley Mother of slain teenager Charlotte Polious killed on Ilford Lane nearby, and - Mary Large mother of Jack Large were all involved in promoting and developing this project.

Ann Oakes-Odger MBE mother of teen victim Lesley Oakes Odger spoke of the pain she went through and great sense of loss after the murder of her son two weeks before Kashif.  Her campaign say the duration of life sentences for murder in the UK extend to 25 years.

Children performed at a diverse concert promoting peace.  Many had their first ever public showcase of the their talents.

Mayor of Redbridge Chris Cummins presided over the inauguration of the monument.

Our second art project was the "Love has no Colour project which was devised after further consultation meetings with residents and businesses within the vicinity of our community centre.  The walls of our centre were in a bad state and visitors to our regular crime, recycling, interfaith and other community meetings, suggested we paint a mural, representing aspects of the community.  Our executive committee liked the idea and asked a few artists to devise a sketch.  Unfortunately despite their best efforts none of the designs were approved.  At the last of our consultation meetings - by which time we had met with 92 local residents - it was decided that the artwork would be created through the imagination of participants of a spray art course. We organised a series of workshops at which young offenders and other teenagers participated without any stigma.  The exercise proved to be very rewarding and even cathartic for the young offenders.  It is very unusual for the young offenders to appear in the paper for a community project like this and the YOT is very strict about confidentiality.  However, the bots simply wanted to share their experience and the Ilford Recorder wrote three articles about the epiphany the young people experienced:

(Click here)   (Click here)   Click here)

We held a series of childrens workshops in tandem with the young peoples project.  The designs from both courses were created into graffiti boards and placed around South Park, Ilford.  We later moved then to Loxford Park and hope to move them to Goodmayes Park next.  Feedback from local residents has all been positive.  Furthermore the best ideas were sprayed onto the walls of our community centre.  This public art feature has now become a positive talking point in our neighbourhood,  awareness of our community centre has increased and subsequently so has attendance at our community meetings.

More then an art course children and Young people met with the police who spoke about the hurt and pain crime can cause.  Our intent was to inspire art with a message.

The children learned to write tags their nicknames in graffiti.

Pastor Bryon Jones from Eden Christian Centre spoke of the Christian perception of peace and love, he shared images that might inspire peace.

Children had fun with the spray cans.

Matt Ryan AKA Myco demonstrated how to use the cans effectively.

Mozam (prayer caller) Bilal from Green Lane Mosque talked of the Islamic principles of peace.  He also provided faith symbols to inspire the art.  There was one representative form all the key faiths in the borough.

Families came to see the children at work.

Participants were rewarded with sweets and certificates after a long week of learning.  Their art board "Love" is currently fixed on the railings of Loxford Park.

The children received T-Shirts with their nicknames sprayed on.

The community centre wall with one of the teenager participants.  We were not permitted images of the classroom activity while the young offenders were present...

We now take you back to Redbridge Peace Monument as the original structure was bereft of the children's input, that mothers of victims of knife crime and the entire community desired.  However our intent form the nascent phase had been true.  In May 2013 after holding a series of art classes with children form local primary schools we inserted square mosaic art designs created by local children into the base of the monument.  They too were spoken to by many local community stalwarts and their works of art were amazing and tested a whole number of new skills, which were developed over the week long course.

Children work on mosaic designs using very technical cutting and shaping tools.

Each time they make a new design they would draw it first on the base plate.

This flower by Julia represents new life.

This star by Kian represented hope.

Children with their one of their many mosaic designs.

The Childrens artwork can now be viewed within the base of the Redbridge Peace Monument at Winston Way subway.  The art work that was not used can still be viewed in a glass cabinet located on the first floor foyer of Redbridge Central Library.

At last our monument is complete.

The Idea behind our latest project arose during the Community Centre Mural.  Local people felt Redbridge would benefit from a similar art project on a larger scale that could inspire local people.  A consultation with over 400 people through an e-survey and various project meetings resulted in the desire for a work of art that would proudly describe Ilford's heritage.  At the end of both the spray art course and mosaic art course, participants reciprocated a desire for a piece of art that could illustrate the contribution Ilford has made to the UK or even the world.  

At two further art courses, one at which we produced an art board to honour slain military drummer Lee Rigby, and one in which young children learnt about mammoths that once roamed in Ilford, with lessons of tolerance generated through the travesty of World War 1 children started to form ideas for what they would like to see on a large scale art project.  Initial idea's centred on the Ilford Mammoth which took so many children by surprise and created great excitement.  Eventually other ides started to generate as local historians provided a range of examples of the great success of local people.

Children and young people eventually settled on the same characters from our history:

  • Ilford's Mammoths
  • Winston Churchill (war time Prime Minister)
  • Domesday Book mention of Wanstead and Barking
  • William Morris (artist)
  • Bobby Moore (Winning World Cup Football England Captain)
  • Fauja Singh (Centenarian Marathon Runner)
  • Sylvia Pankhurst (Leader of Suffragettes) 
  • Dr Thomas Barnado (Care homes for vulnerable children)

It was during the first set of art classes that one of the young offenders suggested that we should create some artwork on the large pillars of the A406.  He described the pillars as am important entrance to the borough with a network of main roads.  When we put the idea forward to various groups of people a unanimous support grew for this location as a site of great importance and art opportunity. When we sought permission for artwork at the location, in our first conversation with Jane Leighton she expressed in no uncertain terms that the site was earmarked as a pivotal location for art, she stressed that any art at the location is required to be professional. We then explained that although the inspiration has come form children the art itself will be drawn and implemented by a professional artist.

Artist Matt Ryan said;

"I believe that Wilson has already sent you a B&W draft of the design.  I was supplied with a list of the great and good of Redbridge and decided to focus on those individuals whose impact on society and popular culture stretched far beyond the boundaries of the Borough.   I wanted the elements contained within the composite image to be like icons, requiring little text to provide identification or explanation of their achievements. There will some amendments to the image, principally changing Churchill's  'V for Victory'
hand gesture to the less provocative 'Peace'  hand gesture."

An artist was chosen by proxy at a project management meeting in January this year.   Matt is a professional artist (painter/illustator/graphic designer) with around 18 years experience. I have produced re-branded hoardings/signage for independent business around London. I have produced sets for TV (Gamezville series 1&2 - Sky 1 and MTV) and for a variety of music videos.   I have also exhibited my work privately around the country in galleries and as part of larger festivals. 

Matt has Developed and Delivered OCN accredited courses in spray art for local councils and other organisations across London and the UK including; Connexions, NHS, Home Office, Disability charities and many other organisations Mr Ryan's work has been displayed (for purchase) as part of gallery exhibitions at London Hip Hop festival, Brighton Hip-Hop festival, "Cans" festival, Stolenspace Gallery; London, One Deco; London, "Upmarket" London. 

View Matt's Teaching promo here: (Click here)

Matt was selected out of a list of 6 artists after a selection of CVs were presented at the meeting.  Local people were simply awestruck by his work on our community centre walls and the noted cathartic change in young people involved in his first course.

We estimate the pillar is approximately 10 metres wide and 20 metres high.  We await correct dimensions from Cliff Woolnoth who is in communication with TFL.

We have secured all the funds for the project and have even introduced the art project to local people and Councillors at the Area 6 Committee Meeting.  There were no objections only several very positive comments.  Kenson Contractors have agreed to provide any scaffolding requirements for free, and will provide all necessary barriers and cones for the project.  A full risk assessment of the project will be undertaken by Wilson Chowdhry who holds a current Prince 2 Qualification and Nebosh General Certificate, prior to commencement.  This will be submitted to all parties before any work is carried out.  Wilson has successfully carried out a carnival every year for the last 9 years.  As a requirement for these events he produces Event plans, Risk assessments and method statements for these events that now boast the largest attendance of any similar event in the borough.  

Technical details – including how artwork will be installed - 

The mural will be produced using a combination of acrylic paint applied via brush and roller and a range of acrylic spray paints. Some more detailed elements (such as text / sponsor logos) will be applied using pre-cut stencils so as to ensure maximum accuracy.   I will be the sole artist working on the project. 

Timetable - 

The mural would take 5-10 days to complete. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Report on Connaught Mews.

Rubbish piles up above and around the community bins. This sight three days before street collection by which time the situation will be much worse and will include local fly-tip.

The silver bin was purchased by the EIBP from from Redbridge Council.  It was meant to be used by residents of the flats using the alleyway, but serves a much wider number of users, unfortunately. We had intended to reduce black bag mess.

This peace mural was designed by local children and painted on the walls of Clementswood Community Centre at the opening of Connaught Mews alleyway.  The work was commissioned and co-ordinated by the EIBP.

The gates to the alleyway were installed by the EIBP in 2007 (then called East Ilford Business Partnership).  They have been vandalised and now no longer lock.  

The Lamp Post was installed in 2004 after a long campaign by the EIBP.  One of our first achievements.


The local mosque has a rear entry accessed via the opening to the alleyway.  They assist EIBP with occasional clearances of the area. 

We have no idea what these pillars are for?

A small area of litter despite a community clear up on Friday.

Some sand and broken glass has been left in the alleyway.

Broken glass is a common theme.

During a street clean we placed these bits of card together so we can place them by the recycling bins by Thursday.

Graffiti covers the wall at the rear of  the alleyway.  A place for drug dealing and usage.

More graffiti.

Even more.

We had cleared the fly-tip on Friday but it has already returned.  We hope a more regular monthly or eventual weekly clearance will deter perpetrators simply as our presence will be felt.

More litter.

More graffiti

Yes even more graffiti.

We hope to remove this litter and to stop the increase of local pests, including rats which are commonly seen.

In 2009 we successfully challenged the council to introduce these recycling bins.  They include a in bin for paper, mixed glass and plastics.

A zoom into the plaque for the gates we installed.  We are now called the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, after numbers of residents started to exceed the number of Businesses memberships in our group.  The original group was initiated by Redbridge council who desired a group to link, businesses and residents to statutory and non-statutory services.

In 2011 our challenge to Redbridge Council for the extension of the Controlled Drinking zone to include various hotspots across the borough and no just the town centre, was successful.  Backing from the Police helped and we also secured several Alcohol Free Zone signs including this one just outside our alleyway.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

World War 1 remembered by children of Redbridge 100 years on!

Children donned their spray masks after a series of talks on World War one and lessons in spray art.

Excited children prepared to undertake the spray art work.

Safety first! Gloves and masks were worn by all participants.

Matt Ryan sprayed a backrond with fields and a few flowers.

He reminded children of how to use the spray cans safely.

Caps were placed on the spray cans to make ready for use.

Children asked some last questions before starting.

The first children took up the challenge.

Help was provided where necessary.

Matt corrected any blatent mistakes.

Spraying took place outside for safety.

Others waited inside for their turn.

Children waited eagerly for their turn.

A one week intensive classrooon session involving historical talks and art designing led to the final design for the board.

This is the background that Matt prepared for children.

Children celebrated the culmination of their work.

Children of different diversities shared fun together.

Boys picked each other up and helped each other all day.  The girls too!

A child corrected her ideas for the main mural on the A406.

A child showed off the design of her tag.

The board remembered World War 1 - one hundred years on.

Children felt that the poppy wreathes highlighted the futility of war.

A simple design with a strong message.

The background again.

"ready to go!" This young one said.

All the children got on really well with one another.

I am not messing with this one!