Kick Down the Barriers was excited to collaborate with the Working Class Academics conference, due to showcase its cumulative exhibition at Blackburn Museum and coincide with the conference. Due to COVID-19, the Kick Down the Barriers exhibition has been postponed until September, however we are still excited to share our work with the conference via this Blog post.
Kick Down the Barriers is a project led by Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, exploring Blackburn communities that have been publicly labelled as “segregated” and “divided” on national press, media and social channels. Using engaged arts practice alongside written enquiry and research, communities will collaborate to challenge these stigmas that tarnish their town.
This will happen through a series of artist residencies, which take place within “segregated” communities. Together, robust and authentic representations of those communities will develop out of cohesive and engaged work. This will be supported by writing residencies, who will academically, publicly, socially and contextually discuss, critique, evaluate and outline the contexts of these works. This writing and research will be published across a variety of platforms, challenging the labels that have been imposed onto Blackburn town.
Four locations have been selected as residency areas, each located in an area of low arts engagement as defined by the ‘Taking Part’ survey. These are:
- Mill Hill & Ewood
2. Audley Range
3. Bank Top
4. Whalley Range
Alongside this, a fifth residency is taking place from within Blackburn Museum. The very fabric of Blackburn today is as diverse as it has always been. The museum is a shared space, accessed by all, and best placed to lead this work. Through this project, the museum will aim to better understand its local audiences, and therefore make necessary steps to enhance its relevance to the breadth of communities it serves.
The artists and writers we have commissioned are:
Craig Easton is a photographer, who will be producing new medium-format photographs and interviews based on months of interactions with the local residents and communities of Bank Top.
Karen Mathison is a life-long resident of Ewood, and has spent time researching the hidden communities of Ewood and Mill Hill. She is developing this research to exhibit, photographing and documenting the current communities that exist in the areas, despite the decline in their community provisions.
Paul Nataraj is a sound artist who has been commissioned to work in Whalley Range. His work is using collected interviews and field recordings from local residents and these will form a series of five podcasts. Paul will also be giving members of these communities the tools, expertise and knowledge to make and disseminate their own stories via podcasts.
Saima Hussain is a streetscape painter who has been commissioned to work where she lives, in Audley Range. She has been producing a body of new streetscape paintings, based on street scenes from Audley Range. She will also be engaging communities through painting and discussions centred around their local area.
William Titley is working in response to the South Asian archives of Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery. His work is looking at what Blackburnians would like to archive at the Museum to represent themselves in today’s Blackburn, and his work also explores themes around neighbours and place.
Jamie Holman & Sana Maulvi are both artists and writers who are producing a series of letters to one another, exploring the development of their friendship over many years. These letters address the notable clichés and cultural difficulties that they both reflect on and remember.
The writers have published work over a different range of platforms, including Northern Soul, The Guardian, The Big Issue and The State of the Arts. See a selection of this writing below, or follow our social media channels.
Alongside this programme, Artist Cath Ford is delivering an exciting educational project to a selection of primary schools across Blackburn.
Kick Down The Barriers will be holding an exhibition in Blackburn Museum launching Wednesday 30 September, to showcase all the collective work the artists and writers have created over the course of the project. The exhibition will run until late November, with work being shown across six different galleries at Blackburn Museum.
Like most creative projects, Kick Down The Barriers has had to adapt to Covid-19. However, the Artists, Writers and Kick Down The Barriers team have continued to make work throughout lockdown and the project will continue to work towards the final exhibition held in September.
Social Media Links:
Facebook: Kick Down The Barriers