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Q&A with Natasha Freedman, Learning and Engagement, The Mosaic Rooms.


1/ What is the MR Learning and Engagement programme?

The learning programme encompasses artist-led workshops and projects that investigate contemporary society in the UK and MENA region, responding to The Mosaic Rooms’ multidisciplinary programme and providing an opportunity for creative engagement with the ideas explored by exhibiting artists.

The programme seeks to engage diverse audiences and develop ongoing dialogues with partner organisations, with activities developed specifically for young people within and beyond formal education, young artists, the local community, specific Arab communities and the wider adult public.

2/ What inspired the title of The Mosaic Rooms upcoming exhibition: ‘Home’?

Since 2012 we have delivered a range of projects exploring the theme of HOME inspired by The Mosaic Rooms June/July 2012 exhibition Home: Contemporary architectural interpretations of the home in the Arab world. These have including a Supper Club series in the homes of several celebrated Arab cooks, a design project, film project, art project and several creative writing workshops. The results of this programme will be showcased in The Mosaic Rooms upcoming exhibition Home: Learning & Engagement Showcase opening this September 2013 as part of the London Design Festival.

natashablogThe Iraqi Supper with Lamees Ibrahim

3/ Briefly describe some of the projects you worked on for Home.

The A.M. Qattan Foundation has a commitment to nurture young artists and we were keen to develop a relationship with an art college in London, to support young designers and start to open a dialogue between young artists in London and in the region. We developed a collaborative project with the FdA Interior Design course at Chelsea College of Art and Design, encouraging students to uncover memories of home and domestic practice as stimulus for furniture and object design – with some imaginative and unique results.

natashablog2Ampika Ponnirum, Chelsea College of Art, 2013

One of the aims of the learning programme is to gradually build sustained relationships with specific Arab communities in London. The Last of the Dictionary Men exhibition (February/March 2013) featured interviews with 14 Yemeni sailors, the last survivors of the first-generation of seamen from Yemen who settled in in the small town of South Shields and made it their home. Responding to the exhibition we commissioned the exhibiting filmmaker Tina Gharavi to deliver an oral history project with the Yemeni community in London. Participants were invited to interview one another on camera, teasing out personal stories of migration, revealing their sense of belonging and notions of home. We were delighted that so many people took part and shared their testimonies so openly. See a small behind the scenes video from the project here.

Another project was developed for young people in the local borough, seeking to evolve The Mosaic Rooms’ relationships with the local community and provide a platform for young people to express their ideas about contemporary society. British artist duo kennardphillipps  (Iraq – How, Where, For Whom? exhibition April-June 2012), were commissioned to lead a series of workshops with young people in several youth clubs across the borough, exploring ideas of home and what it means to feel ‘at home’ in oneself and in society. The contagious energy and commitment of everyone involved was hugely inspiring, resulting in some excellent photomontage artworks. See more.

Find out about our learning and engagement showcase here.

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