As an Artist and Curator, from Doncaster, my practice covers a range of disciplines from digital drawings and murals; to creating exhibitions and events. In my recent MA, I researched the barriers which prevent people fro engaging with the arts; focussing heavily on class and racial issues. As a creative, I am to create a practice that is inclusive and non-discriminatory to any minority and for me, I’ve found that a great way way to achieve this is through co-creation and collaboration. Working with a wider range of communities to create more authentic work can uplift groups of creatives to spark new ideas and projects.
When Eelyn Lee approached me with the concept of the “Parallel State” and the opportunity to collaborate with Mother Hookers, I was more than keen to get involved. The concept was explained as a “space to collectively imagine alternative solutions to life on earth – free from the oppositional constraints of the failed state in which we live”.
From this starting point, I was initially inspired by idea of nature taking over urban landscapes. I loved the notion of nature ‘”rewilding” and humans having to live 100% sustainably. It created a more positive outlook for the future in contrast to the seemingly never ending statistics and information we see regarding global warming and climate change. Although the information is crucial to our awareness it can often be overwhelming, especially for younger people anxious about what the future holds. This was what led me to creating a design that was colourful and bright; I wanted to create a sense of positivity and hope.
The second theme, was initially inspired why the idea of art and creativity being at the core of everything we do. Recently- for myself anyway- it has felt like art is not seen as an essential; despite the evidence of it being vital to our mental health and well-being. With financial cuts and restrictions to art departments across schools and colleges around the country, art is no longer being seen as a priority. In the “Parallel State”, I reimagined creativity being at the centre of everything we do, with art spreading out along the streets; my own rebellion.
It was amazing to collaborate with Katy and Bea of Mother Hookers on this project. They started the Doncaster based crochet social club in June 2019 and brought their own skills and creativity to the table, allowing us to lean on each others strengths.
During the design process, I got to attend one of their Mother Hookers session at the Wool Market and talk to some of the other “Hookers”. The feedback was so interesting and took me in an unexpected direction. The general theme of the comments were concepts that didn’t take the “Parallel State” to otherworldly places but brought it closer to home. They mused a reconnection with Doncaster heritage and culture. Doncaster in a “Parallel State” was still Doncaster but maybe a bit “nicer”, maybe a bit “cleaner”. Some wanted to renovate the town whilst others just wanted to support small businesses by encouraging investment back into local economy.
When we got onto discussing the concept I had created and the importance of art, one of the “Hookers” opened up about her experiences as an Art and Design Teacher. She explained that she often struggles with getting her students to engage with the subject as they felt it was a “waste of time” and that the concept I had created resonated with her for this exact reason.
The finished design was presented along with the … at the beginning of August during the Artbomb event. It was amazing to see a variety of responses to the same brief and for me, an important takeaway from the experience was the importance of allowing open conversations about Doncaster. As a town, its people, its past and its struggles. Although we all have different concepts and different experiences of Doncaster, we all shared similar emotions towards the town. We all want and hope for area to become more inclusive and creative. We want it to gain more opportunities. We want it to offer more support and guidance to our young people.
The Parallel State has done an amazing job of bringing the creatives of Doncaster together, from a range of different disciplines and backgrounds. It has allowed us the chance to dream together about what Doncaster could be.
If you’d like to have a go creating your own floral rosette, see below for the pattern: