Workshops for all foster carers in Barking and Dagenham about the complexities of fostering and supporting young people in their cultural identity, 2022
The Fostering Service in Barking and Dagenham Children's Care and Support have been delivering training to their 130 foster carers to understand the impact of placing young people in care settings that don’t match the cultures they have inherited from their birth families. New Town Culture were asked to run training events for all foster families in the borough to support carers to explore how not being supported to understand your cultures (e.g. language, faith, food, music etc) can impact on your sense of self and wellbeing.
We did this by helping carers to reflect on their own identity and how this might affect their wellbeing in order for them to empathise with their young people. We ran creative workshops and invited all foster carers to take part in reflective group conversation. Through playful and curious activities, we ran artist-led workshops, with artists Gayle Chong Kwan, India Harvey, Paul Crook and Marley Butler, addressing questions around how important is cultural identity to you? How does it impact on your self-esteem, life chances, wellbeing?
Marley Starskey Butler
Marley Starskey Butler lives and works in Birmingham. He was "raised by Wolverhampton, nurtured by Derby, born in Leeds". His art practice spans video, music, photography, sound and written works. His work focuses on opposites, parallels, memory, love, loss, mortality, and the politics of belonging within self and in society. Marley has a concurrent practice as a social worker. He says this keeps him tied to the lives, stories and experiences of the most vulnerable and complex members of society "whilst being a jigsaw piece in ensuring children in care have the best futures possible.".
Paul Crook is an artist living and working in London. He works with a diverse range of media including video, animation, and computer screencasting to create works that explore the interrelation of taste, technology and social history. His video work has been screened at Hamburg Short Film Festival, Germany; Kassel Documentary Film Festival Germany; Ruskin Shorts, Modern Art Oxford, UK and ADD2CART, Glasgow, UK. He has also exhibited work at According to McGee, York, UK; Bohunk Institute, Nottingham, UK; INIVA, London, UK; Krabbesholm Højskole, Denmark and La Forge, Paris. Since 2017 Paul has been a resident artist at St Luke’s Community Centre, London. He is also Young People’s Programme Manager at South London Gallery.
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.