May 06 2011
Kateřina Šedá’s work encourages us to ‘question our place within our community’. On Wednesday 4 May 2011, a group of artists and engagement practitioners hosted a creative discussion, inspired by Kateřina's exhibition, Líšeň Profile, about how art and creativity is making a difference for the people and communities of Sheffield.
We grandly called the event a symposium in the spirit of experts sharing knowledge (we were fortunate enough to be joined by people with a huge wealth of experience and interest). And while the event had its share of critical debate, it also had an intimate lightness, open-ness and a little bit of quirky and irreverent artist-led-ness....
As an exhibition Líšeň Profile presents itself as a cool and beautiful contemporary art installation. Yet, through the photos and stories documenting its making, the real "engagement" work of the artist truly comes alive. We are able to witness participants' intent and patient concentration and creative focus as they work in public locations and most importantly, the encounters, shared experiences and conversations stimulated by the project that otherwise wouldn't have occurred.
These are just the kinds of ephemeral actions and interactions that artists working in Sheffield are also creating in our neighbourhoods as ways of transforming communities. This is work that engaged practitioners, public and regeneration agencies and others are committing to as one means for creating community cohesion and sustainable neighbourhoods with a great sense of place. A great example is the work artists Steve Pool and Kate Genever (who both contributed to the symposium) are doing with local communities around the soon to open Chaucer Buchanan District Centre in Parson Cross.
The event gave us some great food for thought about how best to use Líšeň Profile as an asset for Museums Sheffield's community engagement work (we like the idea of "The Well-placed Museum" as a theme that connects our work within gallery walls and our work "out there" with people in their communities). We were also reminded of the strength in coming together with our partners in the city (on the day we were joined by Yorkshire Artspace, Eventus, Sheffield City Council) for the engagement work we do.
We're looking forward to developing these ideas at an event at Yorkshire Artspace later in the year. In the meanwhile, guerrilla knitter Ruthie Ford is cracking on with her Museums Sheffield commission in Parson Cross responding to Líšeň Profile. We'll keep you posted...
1. Kateřina Šedá, Líšeň Profile, 2010, work in progress. Photo © Michal Hladik.
2. Líšeň Profile at the Millennium Gallery. Photo © Museums Sheffield.