Currently sewing the seeds for a project about 'other' languages.
Working as an ESOL teacher in the centre of Manchester, I've become aware at how many of the students are not only multi-lingual but know some very obscure languages or ones you'd never expect. One of my students, Abdaly, revealed that in addition to speaking Spanish and Arabic as his first languages, he also knows Tamazight. I found this very impressive, but he didn't seem to think it was worth mentioning.
My comrade-in-arts, Afshan Lodhi, read us a poem at our International Women's Day exhibition about her mother's loss of her first language of Konkani, now replaced with Urdu, so with that in mind I'm looking to start a project encouraging the use of our 'other' languages, particularly amongst first generation migrants, in an artistic format.
I am back from Italy, where myself, Adrian Cretu and Maria Chiara Calvani who I met on my last venture to Borsec, Romania, united to produce the 'Once Upon A Town' temporary happening in a steel construction factory outside the city of Rome.
Maria Chiara had worked very hard on the curation, finding the space for our 'temporary happening', interviewing the workers and all the text heavy side. I meanwhile voyaged over there with my 'Vanishing Manchester' project to install within the factory.
Trying not to interfere with every day workers me and Maria Chiara installed the drawings on the wall of the factory amongst warped rusty metal and a cat skeleton which added to the adventure.
Unlike the UK, it seems Italy isn't so uptight about health and safety laws and this installation gave me a new sense of appreciation for such legislation. There's no way here you'd be able to have an installation which required the public to walk over piles of metal beams and bars to view your work and let you install it while sparks are flying from the cutting machine not far to your right.
Next week I'm heading to Rome to reunite with fellow Borsec Veterans Maria Chiara Calvani and Adrian Cretu for what we hope will the first instalment of out three-way Europa project.
Maria has been working tirelessly on curating and researching the event since the start of the year, the particulars of which you can see here: https://mariachiaracalvani.wordpress.com/exhibition-curated/once-upon-a-town/
Information about the Open House event can be found at http://www.openhouseroma.org/2017/node/5611
These are a set of four basic posters I made during my International Women's Day workshops last month with Migrants Supporting Migrants.
I had been feeling quite disheartened over my lack of engagement and success in terms of my art this year. I hadn't been able to create a lot or take part in much stuff since Naysa was born and have had no luck finding work and was feeling more and more isolated from my artist peers.
It's March now. I've curated my first show, humble though it was, I proved I was capable of doing it.
And meanwhile, behind the scenes, I've been conspiring with some of my fellow Borsec veterans to reunite in Italy this summer for an exhibition/project...
I curated my first exhibition this week in honour of International [Working] Women's Day at Migrants Supporting Migrants where I work. We did initially apply for funding for the exhibition from the council but were turned down but I said we could just work something out on our minimal budget and it turned out really well.
I'm gonna call next year's exhibition 'She Did It Anyway'.
I'm trying to sell off some old and a couple new pieces and other bits. Please browse:
Handmade Notepads (sets of 3)
BUY (Staring from £3.70) >>>
I created six groups of little notepads with patterned covers. They're all £3.70 for a set of 3- minus the 'autumn' one which is £6.50 (that fancy paper is expensive!)
The 'autumn' one is 11cmx14.7cm and the rest are 10cmx14.7cm.
I've started a new load of collective works called 'Vanishing Manchester' highlighting destruction of/ threats to Mancunian heritage sites at the hands of property developers and 'regeneration' projects, including mainly, sites that have been demolished in recent history or have at some point been threatened with destruction and uncertain future.
To see the full project as it progresses, go here.
Last week I returned from my latest voyage to Romania.
My stay this time was shorter and involved a detour to the village of Cuptoare, outside the former industrial dystopian-looking town of Resita, where-in resides my friend and artist, Nuri FY, who I first met on last year's Borsec residency, who had kindly invited me to visit her there, so I travelled from Manchester to London to Luton to Bucharest and then travelled far west on the night train out to Resita.
While staying with her, her husband and dog Ibu, she taught me how to make pictures and dye with the 'batik' technique.
I moved onto Borsec, taking a bus via Lugoj and Targu Mures, arriving during a thunderstorm and was welcomed at the old Vila by Mr Martin and this years residents, Maria (Italy), Mihai (Romania), Mykola (Ukraine), Radu (Romania), Woytek (Poland) and Adrian (Romania). We were joined the next day by our organiser, Florin, but in the meantime we had a presentation of our work at the Casa de Cultura.
Also, an old friend appeared while I was walking through the storm up the hill to the Vila to guide me...
The next day Maria set up her tent in Spring 10, chosen because it's a popular destination for people collecting the special water from there, and often people arrive in cars with big bottles to collect the water.
Together we set up the tent with Maria, which has travelled many lands and transported from place to place by courier. Maria collects folk songs from around the world so we heard some there and heard more poetry from the others and songs from Mykola.
Friends turned up to see Maria's tent from the Vila, the Tourist hut, some of Adrian's friends from Bacau, and even one of our canine friends...
I meanwhile, set out to Vila 31 to finally accomplish the project I wanted to do last year, but couldn't for lack of battery powered fairy lights in all of Borsec...
I also returned to Hotel Transylvania, which looks a bit more smashed up and rather more overgrown than last year, but remains it's old self. I also called in Policlinica and me and Maria decided to be pioneers and visit the old Statuinea on the main road that heads towards our villa.
I also called by the quarry to see what was left of Nuri's mural from last year...
Me and Maria went up to see what we called The Tim Burton House, which is being renovated, which is good because it's such a nice house, but also, we want to be able to explore it.
We went there and Maria hung up her hammock and asked me to sing the Oldham Weaver for her while swinging in the hammock. I don't know what the owners would have to say about that nonsense.
Last year I had Grey Lady, this year this one was my cat, who I decided to call Denevér.
So if you prefer tumblr to a website, go ahead: http://sophiagardinerart.tumblr.com/
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.