'Make More Art!'
A proposal for a legacy arts programme for
Hammersmith United Charities
As Hammersmith United Charities enters its fifth century of service to the local area, it is demonstrating that the arts may be one of the most visible and experiential ways to connect its past with its future. Longstanding values of care and beauty that have taken shape in high quality sheltered accommodation and gardens for older people, are now extending into artistic activities for both residents and the wider communities as well as into artistic approaches for the organisation as a whole. Additionally, the charity’s commitment to artistic research with two PhD students investigating the impact of funding community arts and curating art in atypical spaces, further punctuates a growing interest to embed the arts within the fabric of the organisation.
Investing in the arts is a bold and exciting move at this moment in time, especially for a 400 year old housing charity and community grants giving trust. Austere economic landscapes usually land arts programmes on the cutting room floor, but instead the charity is clarifying how art beats profoundly at the heart of its work to provide relief in need to local people.
The following proposal suggests the charity continue to move in this direction with a fully recognised arts programme. With an analysis of the charity’s 400th year of arts activities and preliminary findings from both of its funded PhD candidates, the proposal then outlines a potential programme that unites currently running initiatives with some new ideas.
Proposal prepared by PhD candidate Carolyn Defrin, with contributions from PhD candidate/staff administrator, Nora Laraki and guidance from Melanie Nock, Head of Community Partnerships and Grants Management at Hammersmith United Charities
The 400th Anniversary Programme of Artistic Activity
Throughout 2018, as part of the charity’s 400th anniversary celebrations, the organisation supported a programme of artistic activity under the banner: “Festival of Joy!” From intergenerational participatory projects, to installations exploring social cohesion and affordable housing design, to a new disability arts fest, the charity provided employment and participation opportunities for numerous members of the Hammersmith and Fulham communities.
(Click on the images below for more information about each activity)
Led by Design Education, approximately 20 residents from both John Betts and Sycamore House worked with 20 young people from St. Stephens and Old Oak Primary schools to design and make two mosaics, one for each housing scheme.
Residents had a new opportunity to share their own artwork this year in a public exhibition that was part of the Hammersmith and Fulham arts fest. The exhibition took place in a former office building along the Thames, with other local artists.
Dancing for Joy A new dance piece, commissioned by the charity, was performed at the 400th anniversary party. Organised with Dance West, the piece engaged older residents who take part in the ‘Bolder not Older’ dance classes that have been led by Dance West at Sycamore House for the last two years. The piece was choreographed by professional dance legend, …, and explored the older people’s memories of now demolished local dance halls.
The charity commissioned a portrait of founding funder, Bishop King, this year for its holiday cards. The artist, Matthew Cook, was recommended to the charity via the 'nextdoor app' and ended up decorating the 400th anniversary cake as well.
Co-hosted with different local cultural communities, the charity has organised four 'enigma' events thus far with the sole goal of seeing what might transpire if communities come together over art and food. A key artistic ingredient at each lunch has been the republication or the oral histories project.
The artist, Luke Adam Hawker, was commissioned to design an original piece of artwork for the 400th anniversary party invitations.
As part of her research, Carolyn created a series of Moving portraits which layered local people with their own artwork and their ideas for new artwork. The moving portraits were shown as part of the Hammersmith and Fulham arts fest, at the charity's 400th party and are currently on display at Westfield London.
Made in response to a collectively voiced need for more social cohesion, this 8 minute film was displayed across 11 screens and shown at the party. It also forms part of Carolyn's research- exploring how art can respond to a need and expand impacts through further dialogue.
Carolyn also continued a collaboration with Levitt Bernstein Architects this year and developed a new partnership with local upcycling charity, Petit Miracles. Together, they designed an outdoor installation of swings and benches to get people talking together about age and spatial design. This is creative consultancy for the planned intergenerational housing.
“Hammersmith to have more music and dance because I loved it”
“More of your wonderful intergenerational arts activities”
“More arts and creative opportunities”
“Drama and arts for all ages continue to be supported"
“You will look after your dementia and carer community with special provisions of creativity”
“Make more art”
In the immediate analysis of an activity called “Postcards to the Future” whereby guests at the 400th anniversary party were invited to write a wish for the charity as it looks ahead to the next 400 years, a significant amount of responses regarded arts activities as a vital ingredient. Additionally, several other responses calling for more social cohesion, greater representation of the area, personal care and pure, unadulterated joy drew clear lines to the outcomes and continuous impacts of arts activities like the intergenerational dance and mosaic making, the enigma lunches and the film installation. These lines continue to extend further into the charity's current business plan- specifically within its strategic aims to build new relationships,