Meet the BAS9 Wolverhampton Ambassadors
British Art Show 9 Ambassadors are representatives from the local community who have been working with Rosalind Manasseh, the Wolverhampton BAS9 City Co-ordinator, and a range of groups to explore BAS9.
Kathryn O’Connor – BAS9 LGBTQ+ Ambassador
Kathryn O’Connor – LGBTQ Ambassador is a genderfluid gay artist; documentary photographer, author, actor, mixed media artist, co-ordinator, and tailor-made arts facilitator. Working on two projects engaging BAS9: LGBTQ Voices, photographing and recording stories of LGBTQ communities in the West Midlands and LGBT+ Sparkle Mosaic project, working with the LGBT+ Sparkle social group and mosaic artist Sophie Handy on a series of workshops looking at LGBTQ identities responding to the BAS9 work of Sin Wai Kin fka Victoria Sin.
LGBTQ Voices took place across both venues in Wolverhampton and asked a range of participants to share their personal stories while being photographed and recorded. These contributions will go towards Kathy’s book looking at LGBTQ stories in the West Midlands and a series of exhibitions.
LGBT+ Sparkle Mosaic project was led by mosaic artist Sophie Handy and supported by Kathy. Inspired by the work of BAS9 Sin Wai Kin fka Victoria Sin, each participant was supported to make their own mosaic head. The group embraced the opportunity to both respond to the artworks in BAS9 and to have a safe space to get to know each other, which was a key aspect for this group.
“It was really good having a chat, having a community space, to be at a gallery that I felt comfortable in. I really enjoyed working with and meeting Ros, Kathy and Sophie; they all made me feel really welcome.”
Georgia Goodman – Student Ambassador is a first year illustration student at the University of Wolverhampton. Georgia has been working with a group of students through visits to the BAS9 exhibition, responding to experiences of autism and mental health issues, while using BAS9 works as a catalyst for conversation and creativity.
Georgia and the BAS9 team recruited students from different courses who connected through their experiences with mental health issues and the challenges they have faced. Georgia supported the group in developing their own expressions in response to BAS9. Georgia put all their artworks together into a zine as well as a collaborative work for the zine front cover. The group really enjoyed chatting about the different artworks as well as discussing their own university experiences and getting to know one another.
“I really enjoyed the workshops run by Georgia. It was relaxed and made us feel more confident with using ProMarker pens. I also loved meeting people from other courses and getting to learn their experience of attending the University.”
Amarjit Nar is a writer whose stories capture the lives of three generations of the Indian community living in multi-cultural Britain. Amarjit has facilitated a range of textile workshops responding to BAS9 artist Caroline Walker looking at invisible working-class women. The project documents the stories of working-class Indian women in the community and the impact fashion and textiles have had on their lives.
Amarjit facilitated several workshops with different groups of women within the exhibition. Sessions included making tootia, learning to make and starch flowers, chunnia – traditional method of dyeing fabric, block printing and textile pattern cutting,
The final workshop was a presentation of all the work with Caroline Walker. Some of the writers read stories or poems about invisible women. The project highlights that the younger generation of Indian women are unaware of the vital role of invisible women.
“I really enjoyed the presentation of the work the women in the group had made and their reflections on the significance of sewing and making on both a personal and wider social and cultural level. Each of the written responses were beautiful, evocative and incredibly visual, conjuring up images in my mind of women working at sewing machines in busy family homes, magically turning reams of fabric into clothing. Learning more about the cultural significance of sewing to different groups of women and how their experiences all linked up through community, female kinship and family was fascinating as a way of thinking about the value in this domestic, and often unseen, ‘women’s work’ as something which goes far beyond the skill and craft in making.” Caroline Walker
Alex Vann, Real Art Workshops – Social Prescribing Ambassador has been working with the City Learning Region, the Social Prescribing team and Rosalind Manasseh to run a series of workshops for social prescribing link workers and participants. Looking at BAS9 artist Michael Armitage’s work focusing on the techniques he uses in his work, including painting on lubugo bark and the symbolism in his paintings.
Rosalind Manasseh, City Co-ordinator for BAS9 activities, gave link workers a dedicated tour of the exhibition to discuss how to shape the projects for participants. It was decided that a focus on one work would be a good starting point for building new relationships and developing new skills. Sessions with participants prescribed BAS9 included working with an Asian women’s group using lumbago bark in Armitage’s work. The team also worked with an amature arts group exploring the African dot painting technique. More experienced artists who might have been away from artmaking for a while worked with Alex to focus on the use of animals in Michael Armitage’s work. Animals can have many significant meanings. The participants used this as a starting point to create a piece of work which combined a meaningful animal to them with another aspect, revealing more about their own personalities. Finally a mixed group looked at ‘newspaper mosaics’; this included low tech mosaic and hitech apps.
“Very nice, enjoyed my first time painting. I was very nervous but made to feel very comfortable and that really helped my confidence. I would love to come to a class like this every week.”
The Good Shepherd – (Kate Penman)
Kate Penman is the Good Shepherd Ambassador. The Good Shepherd mission works with homeless people in Wolverhampton. The group responded to some of the themes in BAS9, particularly around ‘giving voice to difference’, and put on an exhibition at the Good Shepherd, building around experiences of homelessness in the city called #ItStartsWithAMeal.
#ItStartsWithAMeal is a multi-disciplinary, immersive art exhibition and guided tour. For the first time, the Good Shepherd opened its doors to the public to experience a day in the life of our service users, volunteers, and staff.
Starting in the carpark of TGS, the experience commenced with a meal cooked and served by TGS staff and volunteers. Service users and staff shared their testimonies, reflected on the five values of the Good Shepherd – hospitality, compassion, truth, respect and justice.
The exhibition focused around the BAS9 theme ‘ how we live and give voice to difference’ and this gave an opportunity to showcase the stories and passions of TGS service users and the artworks produced by service users during the BAS9 workshops. Workshops included a tour of BAS9, a ‘letters of truth’ workshop with Saffron Hill and Eve Biggs, portraiture with Anna Smith and Chris Manley, and graffiti with Steve ‘Graffoflarge’ Edwards.
“Being named among the ambassadors for the British Art Show is giving our service users who attend our art class some incredible experiences.” (quote from GSM staff)
The Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID)
Wolverhampton BID is a business funded and led organisation that delivers improvements within the city centre BID area. At the core of Wolverhampton BID’s ethos is attracting footfall to the city centre through events, supporting the city to thrive, showcasing the city centre and all it has to offer, while ensuring that everyone who visits the city centre enjoys Wolverhampton. BAS9 BID ambassador Suzie Lavender is a contemporary glass artist who was enlisted to encourage communities to visit BAS9.
Suzie’s role was to spread the word about British Art Show 9 and ensure Offsite 9 projects reach the businesses and public of Wolverhampton’s city centre. Due to the increased footfall that the show brought with it, Suzie also supported the BID in their varied work within the city: wayfinding, addressing security concerns, assisting vulnerable people and supporting businesses.
Suzie said: “I’ve gained so much insight into the working of my city and have made many new connections. Being part of the BAS9 team has been a fantastic opportunity and extremely rewarding.”
The Way Youth Zone is a youth-led, state of the art space for young people aged 8-19 (up to 25 with a disability) located centrally in the vibrant and diverse city of Wolverhampton. The Way is a youth work charity providing an incredible range of activities in a safe space designed with young people in mind. They aim to give these youth someone to talk to and staff that will always listen, always putting young people first and at the heart of what they do.
Working with the City Coordinator for BAS9 activities, the young people from The Way accessed a number of tours of the British art Show 9 in Wolverhampton. This was the first time many of the young people had been to the gallery and the first time for all of them to go to the university and see a contemporary exhibition.