Think differently about Direct Practice
A day of collaborating, experimenting and thinking about the systems and structures with staff from adults social care.

New Town Culture were asked to deliver a whole service away days for over 150 members of staff in the adults social care service at Barking and Dagenham. We were asked to support staff members to think creatively about how they do direct practice with their adults and to help them reflect on their own culture identity and how this might have an impact on ways of working.

We did this through running playful and curious activities and conversations led by artists, Belinda Zhawi, India Harvey, Nicole Morris, Gayle Chong Kwan and Amy Leung addressing questions around What is direct practice? What does it feel like for our adults when we do direct work with them? What creative approaches could look like in our work and what difference they could make to direct practice.

Belinda Zhawi

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer and educator currently based in London. Her work explores Afro-diasporic research and narratives, and how art and education can be used as intersectional tools. Belinda also experiments with sound as MA.MOYO, collaborating within the ever growing South East London jazz and beat-making scene. Recent projects include Current Transmissions, ICA, 2020; Art of Now: Mixtape For Zimbabwe, BBC Radio 4, 2020; South X South East, The Showroom, 2019; Our Bodies Speak Poetry, Africa Writes Festival, The British Library, 2019. Zhawi was the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet, the 2019 Serpentine Galleries’ Schools Artist in Residence, and is co-founder of literary arts platform, BORN:FREE. She is the author of Small Inheritances, ignition press, 2018 and South of South East, Bad Betty Press, 2019.

India Harvey

India Harvey is an artist and researcher whose work explores the possibilities of having multiple, distinct & complex relationships with the textures of our lived environments; how these relationships express themselves and how we may be able to relate to others’ through shared exposure to unusual materiality. This investigation into the experiential margins promoting new kinds of value systems of expertise and intelligence, attempting to consider 'difference' as a positive universal.

This practice is active in the struggles against imposed/implied essentialism of marginalised or misunderstood bodies and minds, with a particular focus on Neurodiveristy, child cultures, inclusion and access, seeking to create spaces that enrich perceptual, cognitive and multisensory experiences of art by granting participants permission to interpret and understand on their own terms. This requires an approach (and a commissioning body) that accepts unpredictable mess, and playful chaos, with a view to challenging mainstream ideas of sensory hierarchies and ocularcentrism as the dominant mode of art engagement.

India often collaborates with others, working in interdisciplinary and cross-generational contexts. India’s previous work includes collaborations and commissions with the South London Gallery, Tate Modern, Camden Arts Centre, Milton Keynes Art Gallery, Focal Point, and the Arnolfini, as well as working for many years as a Playworker in several London Adventure Playgrounds. Most recently India has undertaken the Lumsden Residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, is touring an immersive installation with dancer Fernanda Munoz-Newsome and is collaborating with Lisa Marie Bengtsson on an under-5s playspace at the Barbican Centre, London.

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.

Nicole Morris

Nicole Morris works across gallery, education and community settings. Her work focuses on the discourse between textiles and film and how one process can translate into the other. Within this she explores themes of domesticity and labour and how these are performed or re-presented in new contexts and how the coming together of a group of people can offer creative potential as well as a supportive space that can be essential to mental health and wellbeing. Recent projects and exhibitions include Navigating My Sea, Solace, Her Centre and Royal Museums Greenwich, 2021; Making in Isolation, Together, SPACE, 2020; Drawing Act I: Labour, Faith, Exhaustion, The Drawing Room 2019, Supersmashers, South London Gallery, 2018-19; Drawing Biennial, The Drawing Room, 2021 and Dear World commission, Wellcome Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL, 2020.

Amy Leung

Amy Leung is a London based artist working across sculpture, drawing and workshops to explore the articulation and communication of joy. She is an arts educator and is interested in the intersections in which community, craft, objects and cultural identity meet. She is a member of AltMFA, a peer led group exploring alternative art education. She is currently the Radio Coordinator at Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell and has previously facilitated projects with Firstsite, Saatchi Gallery, Tate, Sout London Gallery and Create.