Gayle Chong Kwan, 2019
Artist Gayle Chong Kwan and young people in foster care build imaginary environments.
Young people aged from eight to eighteen took part in projects with the artist Gayle Chong Kwan. Some of the group had special educational needs and disabilities including ADHD, cerebal palsy and autism.
Based in The Vibe youth centre in Dagenham, they explored buildings, spaces, towns and the way these place make them feel. Using materials such as clay, bread and paper, they built fantasy places including bread houses made for birds to eat in the garden. The group shared amazing communal meals each day and shared their work with each other, encouraging and supporting the whole group.
"On the first day, A was brought by his carer. It felt like he was more compelled to come than wanted to of his own volition. He was quiet at first and spoke relatively basic English. He started to enjoy the drawing and using the bread to make things. He mentioned that when he came to England it was the first time he started to write and to draw. He started to tell us about how he had come to the UK, that he had walked all the way from Afghanistan, through Pakistan. It was very moving that he wanted to share with us his experience. He showed us photos from his phone of the journey." (Gayle Chong Kwan)
"Think this programme should be available to all children not just a few. With options of birth children too. Get carers more involved with ideas. Different options for older children too. I have been more relaxed about creative mess. The importance of this was to get children to think on their own and how to have own ideas. And carry things out on their own too. With guidance and support. In safe and pleasant environment." (Foster carer)
Gayle Chong Kwan
Gayle Chong Kwan creates large-scale environments and photographs created out of waste products, found materials and documentary sources and often sited in the public realm. She develops her work through processes which can involve sensory activities, participation, and historical or archaeological inquiry, to create settings or props through which more fantastical experiences or re-visioning can happen. Sites for her projects, commissions and exhibitions have included the Southbank Centre, Bloomberg Space, The Wellcome Trust, Venice Biennale, Street Level Photoworks, Iniva, Centro Cultural de Moravia and 10th Havana Biennial.