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School Studio: Structure, Restructure – School Project 2023

About this project

School Studio: Structure, Restructure is our major project with secondary schools in 2023.

This spring, Year 12 art students from Cardinal Vaughan School and Kensington Aldridge Academy will work with artists Aya Haidar and Nia Fekri, to playfully consider notions of power and to question pervasive structures and systems which impact everyday life. Students will reflect on the acts of protest against these systems, including those enacted by their teachers and peers. The student groups will then work to create a space in their school to represent the ideas which they have interrogated during the course of the project.

Aya Haidar, whose principal medium is textiles, will be based at Cardinal Vaughan School and, over 6 weeks, will work with students to identify their surroundings, encourage their autonomy within the space and create subtle yet powerful ways to playfully subvert the systemThe students will set up a ‘workshop’ within a communal space at the school, to manufacture and disseminate embroidered patches – featuring protest slogans and symbols – for other pupils at the school to secretly embellish their school uniforms with. 

At the same time, Nia Fekri, who works with film and the written word, will explore filmmaking with Year 12 students at Kensington Aldridge Academy. Nia will introduce the students to experimental approaches to film and how the medium can be used as a space for reflection. The students will engage with filmmaking as an explorative methodology to think through the notions of power, what it is, and what it could be’.

In an exciting culmination of both projects, Fekri’s ‘film crew’ from Kensington Aldridge Academy will visit Cardinal Vaughan school to film the students’ embroidery workshop. This footage will be incorporated into a final ‘collective’ film, to be screened in a specially-created environment at Kensington Aldridge – including seating which has been embellished with the protest-embroideries from Cardinal Vaughan. 

About the artists

Aya Haidar graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art, during which she completed an exchange program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She then went on to graduate with an MSc in NGOs and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Aya’s current work focuses on the recycling of found and disposable objects making poetic works that explore labour, displacement, domesticity, womanhood and memory, with a particular focus on the Middle East through the histories contained within aged, and culturally specific objects. Aya has been involved in numerous social engagement projects, including Deveron Projects residency program, Mosaic Rooms’ Together Apart: Lockdown Diaries, Cubitt’s Out of Service, INIVA’s A Place for Conversation, V&A’s Record, Resist, Reframe, Tate’s Illuminating Cultures program and INIVA’s Emotional Learning Cards, as well as being selected for Hans Ulrich Obrist and Hoor Al Qasemi’s Do It Arab project (2016).  

Nia Fekri is an Iranian-British multidisciplinary artist and educator working primarily with moving-image, writing and performance. She received a BA from Slade School of Fine Art. Her work often deals with modes of storytelling in conversation and the ways they structure everyday realities and fictions. She is driven by need to register the fragmentary and ghostly nature of immigrant experiences, familial relationships and intimate spaces. As an educator and facilitator, Nia’s focus is on collaborative storytelling, speculative exercise through a variety of mediums. Her most recent projects have been in collaboration with UCL Art Museum, The Mosaic Rooms gallery and the British Film Institute.   

Rosie Thwaites works as Project Manager on the project. Rosie is a creator of content for children – written, visual, multimedia and educational. She has made content for schools, charities, television and online. Her work is informed by her solid background in teaching and arts-education programme management. Rosie studied Fine Art BA at Goldsmiths. After completing a PGCE in 2003, she taught Art and Design in the state sector for 5 years (at secondary school level). In 2007, she joined the Royal Drawing School to create a London-wide arts-education programme providing intensive engagement with art for deserving young people aged 10-18. 

She now creates education content for clients such as The Mosaic Rooms, Ragdoll Production Company, Children’s Story Hour, and The New School. She was long-listed for the World Illustration Awards in 2022. 

Image: School Project 2022, Between Here and There with Harold Offeh at Kensington Aldridge Academy. Photo by Nazia Moon

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