Tranquil City Collaboration: 2019

Some of us teamed up with Tranquil City to create a workshop activity to be included in the Mayor of London’s National Park City Festival. Tranquil City is a charitable organisation running ‘tranquil’ walks which encourage contemplation, discovery and an engagement with the local history and urban environment in London.

Specifically aimed at the local community in Newham, we asked participants to use words to co-create a skyline of the River Lea. We hoped participants would be able to write their thoughts, feelings and hopes in spaces earmarked for immanent development. The event took place in July at Cody Dock and again in the Olympic Park.

a photo of the River Lea with the words 'wellbeing and the national park city, Tranquil City, UAL, Codydock. Mayor of London, London National park City'.

Codydock Flyer, July 2019


a hand drawing words onto the rRver Lea skyline

Word Drawing at Codydock, 2019

a group of people leaning over and adding to the word-drawing

Olympic Park


A week of workshops

Tate Exchange: Come Together in a Time of Change 2019


Art is necessarily caught up in contemporary politics in many complex ways. Come Together invited the public to join forces, to ‘come together’ and consider how we might reflect on and tackle our current state of affairs.  Below are some of the workshops that the students and staff from the Art Programme at Central Saint Martins created for a series of events in three zones: talking together, making together and playing together. These will include practical workshops, lectures, reading groups, film screenings and performances among others. Join in a wide range of practical activities which explore the many ways in which making and politics might intertwine.

Fake News

lost of banners with the names of all the workshops for the week


everyone have a good time in this workshop

A performance work by Teresa Zerafa Byrne, Laura Madeley , Margaux Derhy, and Abigail Zerafa Byrne, that looked at the validity of news headlines and how history is written by those documenting it. Can we rely on what we read? We encouraged members of the public to take part in three activities based on game shows, and to generate their own randomised news headlines; each participant walked away with their own Fake News page.

News paper headline poster


Artists have always responded to the political climate in which they exist. Art can critique, reflect, support or challenge the powers that be. The experimental approaches that many artists deploy are to challenging established systems of authority. But in today’s volatile political landscape, the role of the artist is an increasingly dangerous one. Across the world, artists have been arrested as a result of the political nature of their creative output – Pussy Riot, Ai Weiwei and Tania Bruguera to name a few. In the UK, visas for international artists are becoming more and more difficult to secure. In schools, politics is challenging our creative faculties from the inside out, favouring STEM subjects over art and design


Art Crit 2019

Our group was made up of alumni / current students to discussed how important it was to have critiques within the framework of an art education.  Please click on the link below for the film of January 2019 and the film was published in July 2020. 

Rose taking to a group of peopleAbove image: Rose Leventon talking in the crit

Above image: Ana Catarina Pereira talking in the crit

Above image: Alexandra Harley talking in the crit

Above image: Claire Mc Dermott talking in the crit

Above image: Ana Catarina Pereira and a member of the public talking in the crit about his work

member of public talking in the crit

Above image: Member of the public talking with Rose Leventon on the right and Declan Slattery on the far left.

Big thanks from Claire to all the above artist who made this Art Crit 2019 happen.  Special thanks to Rose Leventon who started the ball rolling by agreeing to take part in this event.  Warm thanks to Ana Catarina Pereira and Wini Pritchett for the planing of the event and for the photographs taken by Alexandra Harley and Ana’s friend.  Graphic design, coordinator of the event and the fundraising was made by Claire Mc Dermott.   A great film that topped off the event with co edits by Wini Pritchett and produced by Declan Slattery.   



Macaws  08/06/2019

Offered the opportunity in January to run an activity at Tate Exchange under the theme of “Come Together” Phil Barton and Catherine Herbert worked together to raise awareness of habitat loss and the impact of humans on the natural world. The project explored the Sixth Great Extinction of species currently underway, the first to be caused by an Earth based species.

The new work nearing completion, beneath the original template

After discussion over the Christmas holidays, we settled on an approach which would invite participants to co-create a work with us by creating an artwork after Andy Warhol – bold colours & repetition.  Research brought us to Macaws, which I had seen in the Peruvian jungle when I visited to study fresh-water river dolphins in 2000 and to Brazil, where the recent swearing in of new President Jair Bolsonaro – who is committed to cutting down rainforest for agriculture – is causing huge concern.

Participants working on their tiles

So we worked on a macaw-based work which was displayed A0 size at the workshop and which we had cut up into 90 pieces.  We asked participants to vote on the relative importance of the democratic process which had led to Bolsonaro’s election and the inherent rights of Nature and indigenous peoples.  And we offered them the opportunity to interpret their piece of the work on a paper-covered tile four times its size.

Originally scheduled for three hours on Saturday 19th January, popular demand ensured a five hour stint.  95 people contributed to the re-made work which was finally finished!  The enthusiasm, concentration and talent of participants ranging in age from one to seventy was tremendous and we plan to extend the work at other venues, hoping to display the finished artwork in a public venue later this year.

Painting macaws at Tate Exchange. So popular we had to spread out onto the floor.

A totally engaging experience from start to finish, we were delighted with the result.  Oh, and the final vote? 42 for the democratic process and 91 for the rights on nature and indigenous people!

Phil Barton

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