On Saturday afternoon, just off The Drive, bunting and music led you down through the residential estate and onto a nice grassy area by Fanshaw House. Outside the drawing shed a cooking station had been set up, picnic blankets laid out and Mexican food (including mole, courgettes with anchovies, guacamole, rice and salads) and Kenyan-Indian curry had been made. The event marked the end of two artist residencies at the drawing shed. Pablo Perezzarate and Leena Chauhan had been involved with The Drawing Shed through the LiveElse[W]here project.
It was a gorgeous day. There was music, children dancing and a wonderful community atmosphere with a mixture of those involved with the drawing shed as well as local residents – everybody was made very welcome. The incredible food had been prepared by Pablo’s father and Leena’s mother.
Set up in 2009, the drawing shed is run by artist directors Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd who work on projects (sometimes collaboratively) that deal with issues of community, diversity and the ignored in society. LiveElse[W]here was a project that aimed to develop the work of two artists that would respond to, and engage with, the diverse community on the estate.
Leena has been decorating fabric with blown up prints of garment labels from the residents’ clothing. These were hung around, decorating the eating area. She told me that enlarging these labels and replicating them in neon paint drew attention to the globalised nature of the production process of the goods that we use every day. She has also covered up the instructive signs around the estate. Where they once read “Do not feed the pigeons” and “No Ball Games”, they now say “Made in Bangladesh” and “XS”. This also reflects on the way communities are affected by their environment.
Pablo later showed us how to cook quesadillas, with the help of those sitting around the table, whilst telling stories about his family - mainly his two grandmothers. He was born in Mexico and came to the UK when he was ten. His stories touched on the power of food in memories, Mexican history, such as the 1968 protests where hundreds students were killed and details of his family history. We hear that his grandmother gave birth to his mother at just 14 and went on to have 8 children in total. He says that because of his heritage, he did not understand the negative connotations about estates. During his residency, Pablo has produced a sound map of the estate (see earlier post), which you will be able to download and take a tour of the housing estate following a map he has created.