Artists and naturalists will come together on Zoom on January 19 from 7pm to 9pm to address this fascinating question in Ask The Ants.
In an event organised by Scarborough Museums Trust, designed to complement Scarborough Art Gallery’s ongoing exhibition, The Ant-ic Museum, artists Feral Practice and Marcus Coates will discuss what ants can teach us about our anthropological world in the company of ant ecologies specialist Dr Elva Robinson and natural world author Charlotte Sleigh.
Subverting a Gardeners’ Question Time format, the panel will draw on their specialist knowledge of ants to answer questions from the audience about human society. “Seeing our entrenched issues or thorny problems through the unusual position of the ant world opens up unexpected pathways of creative thinking for everyday life,” says the Scarborough Museums Trust literature.
Online attendees can submit questions in advance via https://bit.ly/AskTheAnts or ask it on the day. Questions can vary from the political and societal to the deeply personal. They should not be questions about ants, however!
The January 19 event is part of Ask The Wild, a collaborative project by Feral Practice and Marcus Coates that offers fresh perspectives on personal, social and political issues in human society by bringing expert knowledge of natural history disciplines to bear on everyday human problems and dilemmas. Previous events include Ask The Sea at Tate St Ives, Cornwall, and Ask The Birds at Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Feral Practice’s Fiona MacDonald is an artist, curator and writer who specialises in human-nonhuman relationships, creating art projects that “develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries”.
Performance artist, writer and filmmaker Marcus Coates seeks to draw parallel in his work through “examining how we perceive ‘human-ness’ in imagined non-human realities”.
Elva Robinson, senior lecturer in Ecology at the University of York, conducts research on the wood ants of the North York Moors. Her book Wood Ant Ecology And Conservation was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.
Charlotte Sleigh is a researcher, writer and practitioner whose work is spread across the science humanities. Her research interests began in the history of biology and now have an emphasis on animals, and she is the author of Ant (Reaktion, 2003) and Six Legs Better: A Cultural History Of Myrmecology (Johns Hopkins, 2007).
EMMA Gibson’s upcoming Quicksand exhibition aims to raise awareness of “one of our most under-appreciated natural commodities”.
On show at Scarborough Art Gallery from February 12 to June 5, Gibson’s triptych of sculptures transforms minuscule grains of sand into megalithic forms, putting this endangered but seemingly ubiquitous material – used to make anything from phone screens to windows, from plastics to paint – under the microscope.
Applying micro-3D scanning technology, Gibson worked with the Imaging and Analysis Centre at the Natural History Museum, London, to discover the otherworldly shapes of individual sand grains before recasting them as colossal forms.
Each piece was made using recycled plaster and clay, timber and a pioneering resin made from recycled plastic bottles that have been redirected from landfill and the oceans.
Simon Hedges, head of curation, exhibitions and collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “Sand is running out all over the world – it’s a global problem; it’s climate change with bells on. It may be difficult to believe, but sand is limited – and it’s critical as a commodity for so many types of technology.
“It’s estimated that, for construction alone, the world consumes roughly 40 to 50 billion tons of sand on an annual basis. That way outstrips the rate at which sand is being naturally replenished by the weathering of rocks by wind and water.”
As a museum in a coastal setting, Scarborough Art Gallery “feels it’s our responsibility to help raise awareness of this issue,” says Hedges. “Emma’s sculptures are a particularly stunning way of doing that. Three giant grains of sand, each over a metre tall, have been created after being magnified nearly 3,000 times,” he continues.
“They represent just three of the many different types of sand there are – a fossil foraminifera, a rolled-up piece of quartz and a chip from a shell.”
Gibson says: “Quicksand is about assumptions in relation to perceptions: we assume that there is the same amount of sand available as stars in the sky. People say: ‘Can’t you just use sand from the Sahara to build stuff? We’ve got loads of sand.’ But you can’t because it’s wind-blown and all the grains are circular.
“I started reading all these strange documents about people stealing sand because it’s a seriously valuable commodity. Some go to the beach to sunbathe; others turn up in the middle of the night in a truck to take the sand away. There are people getting murdered over sand, it’s really serious.”
Explaining her creative process, Gibson says: “Grains of sand are really tiny, so I wanted to explore how I could make them important to humans at their own scale.
“I’m hoping people will have some kind of murmuration – just a little moment in their minds where they recalibrate their belief system in nature and technology, and what their purposes are. Maybe it can offer an altered perspective and state of mind for a moment.”
Alongside the sculptures, Gibson will be re-creating her studio in Scarborough Art Gallery. “I’ll be showing films, digital and physical models and supporting materials as part of the development process of the work, which is as much about the science as the aesthetic,” she says.
Gibson will create a learning experience that will lay out globally significant issues in an inclusive and approachable space.
Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning team is devising hands-on learning experiences for primary-school children, in collaboration with geologist Dr Liam Herringshaw, including a Beach in a Box, to “bring an important part of the curriculum to life in new and engaging ways”.
Co-curated with theYorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, Quicksand has been gifted to Scarborough Museums Trust by Selfridges & Co, where it was first exhibited in The Art Block gallery, in London, in 2020.
Emma Gibson: the back story
BORN in 1980, this British installation artist explores the uncertain state of reality. She studied at Open School East and the University of the Arts in London and now lives and works in the Scottish Highlands.
Gibson’s large-scale installation works are the result of both traditional and technological making processes, often using 3D-scanning and digital representations to create physical sculptures and total environments. Regularly, she collaborates with scientists in her fields of interest.
Her creative practice revolves around coastlines and shores as a metaphor for the edge of reality, the end of the internet and a loss of control – a place “where science and nature collide and mimic each other, where so much is unknown, where human intervention can go no further”.
Scarborough Art Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Mondays, plus on Bank Holidays. Entry is free with a £3 annual pass that allows unlimited free entry to the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough, too.
ANIMAL Hauntings will take over Scarborough Art Gallery from May 18 to September 22, led by a tunny fish.
The exhibition combines film and objects from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection to ask what, in times of environmental uncertainty, we can learn from the ghosts of animals past in order to create more solid future relationships with the natural world.
Among those objects will be a tunny fish that was a favourite exhibit for many in a former life when the gallery’s neighbour, Woodend, was a natural history museum, together with examples of taxidermy, such as a pair of the now-extinct passenger pigeon, and equipment used by the “climmers” that once abseiled down Yorkshire’s East Coast cliffs in search of seabird eggs.
Tunny fishing and climming are the subject of two films from the Yorkshire Film Archive that form part of the exhibition, alongside moving images by artist Fiona Tan and exhibition curator and artist Martha Cattell.
Martha says: “The exhibition is inspired by Woodend’s past as a natural history museum, and by the book Arts Of Living On a Damaged Planet: Ghosts And Monsters Of The Anthropocene, an anthology of work by 20 eminent writers.
“Humans have long been fascinated with and reliant on non-human animals for food, transport, clothing and as pets. We are haunted by past connections to animals and many of the objects within the collection reflect this.
“With more than 35,500 species threatened with extinction, this exhibition uses objects and moving image to highlight the entangled relationships between animals and humans, and offers ways of looking with animals, and not just at them.”
Scarborough Museums Trust will run a series of events inspired by the exhibition, to be announced on its website and social media channels in the coming weeks.
Animal Hauntings will run alongside two more exhibitions at Scarborough Art Gallery over the same dates: Scarborough: Our Seaside TownandLaughton’s Legacies.
The venue has been awarded VisitEngland ‘s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying adherence to government and public health guidance on Covid-19. All three exhibitions are on the ground floor and are fully wheelchair-accessible.
Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery is by annual pass, whose £3 cost gives unlimited entry to both the gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year.
Opening hours at Scarborough Art Gallery are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays.
ROLL on Monday and Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap to recovery, when outdoor hospitality can resume and zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and libraries can re-open.
Charles Hutchinson casts an eye over what’s on and what’s next.
Children’s stream of the week: Strawberry Lion in Five Children And It, via Explore York libraries
YORK company Strawberry Lion’s streamed production of E Nesbit’s novel Five Children And It can be viewed for free on @YorkExplore’s YouTube channel daily until April 14 at 5pm.
Suitable for children aged five and over, the show is written and performed by York actor, musician, writer, theatre-maker and company founder Anna Soden, who has set Nesbit’s 1902 story with the grumpy magical creature on Scarborough beach.
Exhibition launch of the week ahead: Jack Hellewell: Jack’s Travels, Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, from April 12
CURATOR Ann Kentmere is toasting Roadmap Step 2 Day by reopening Kentmere House Gallery on April 12 with Jack Travels, the first in a lockdown-delayed series of exhibitions to celebrate the centenary of the late Bradford artist Jack Hellewell.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Ann and David Petherick’s gallery in their York home, and Hellewell’s show will be open every day from April 12 to 17, 11am to 5pm, with extended opening to 9pm next Thursday, before Ann resumes her regular opening hours on the first weekend of each month and Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm. Or you can just ring the bell on the off-chance.
Walking tour launch of the month ahead: The York Dungeon, from April 16
THE York Dungeon will spring its “frighteningly fun but family-friendly” walking tour on this socially distanced haunted city from next Friday.
Taking The York Dungeon above ground on Fridays to Sundays, guests will be led on a tour of hair-raising historic locations by two of the Clifford Street visitor attraction’s most/least loved characters, who will tell horrible tales of York’s murkiest, darkest history, wrapped up in suspense and surprises. Start times will be throughout each day; tickets must be pre-booked at thedungeons.com/york/.
A day by the sea but inside a gallery: Scarborough: Our Seaside Town, Scarborough Art Gallery, May 18 to September 12
SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s summertime exhibition will look at life in a seaside town, as seen through the eyes of local people.
Curator Esther Lockwood interviewed team members from Scarborough Museums Trust, asking for their personal views and recollections of life by the sea year-round before selecting items from the trust’s extensive collections.
These will include an early 20th century ice cream cart that once operated on Scarborough’s South Bay beach; the East Coast resort’s Pancake Bell, rung to signal the start of the unique tradition of skipping on the seafront on Shrove Tuesday, and other seaside ephemera, paintings, vintage photographs and postcards.
Missing Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4 already? Head to Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5
GRAYSON Perry’s lockdown-delayed “lost pots” exhibition at York Art Gallery’s Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) will open at last next month.
This touring show is the first celebration of Perry’s earliest forays into the art world, re-assembling the explosive and creative works the Chelmsford-born artist, author and television presenter made between 1982 and 1994.
“It’s as near as I will ever get to meeting myself as a young man, an angrier, priapic me with huge energy but a much smaller wardrobe,” says Perry.
Audition opportunity: Pick Me Up Theatre, SpongeBob The Musical, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York
YORK company Pick Me Up Theatre are to stage SpongeBob The Musical from December 7 to 18 at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.
Director Robert Readman and musical director Sam Johnson will hold auditions there in July and August for performers aged 15 to 23 and actor-musicians for the Bikini Bottom Band.
Anyone interested is asked to email email@example.com for an audition form.
Gig announcement of the week in York: Del Amitri, York Barbican, September 18
DEL Amitri will follow up the May 28 release of their seventh studio album, Fatal Mistakes, with a September 18 gig at York Barbican.
Justin Currie’s Glaswegian band last played the Barbican in May 2002, the year they released their last album, Can You Do Me Good?.
Greatest hits and new material will combine in a set supported by The Bryson Family. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (9/4/2021) at 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week outside York: Spiers & Boden, Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC), October 20, 8pm
AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together and not only working on new material, but also bringing a live performance to Pock in the autumn.
John Spiers, 46, and Jon Boden, 44, were the driving forces in big folk band Bellowhead, who played a glorious headline set at PAC’s Platform Festival at The Old Station, Pocklington, in July 2015. Tickets cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s summertime exhibition will look at life in a seaside town. as seen through the eyes of Scarborough people.
Curated by Esther Lockwood, Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will run from Tuesday, May 18 to Sunday, September 12.
Esther interviewed team members from Scarborough Museums Trust, asking for their personal views and recollections of life by the sea year-round before selecting items from the trust’s extensive collections.
These will include an early 20th century ice cream cart that once operated on Scarborough’s South Bay beach; the East Coast resort’s Pancake Bell, rung to signal the start of the unique tradition of skipping on the seafront on Shrove Tuesday, and other seaside ephemera, paintings, vintage photographs and postcards.
A clifftop diorama will provide the backdrop to a display of seabirds from the trust’s taxidermy collection, complete with smells.
Esther says: “I hope this exhibition will help the collections to be seen afresh through the eyes of the people who work at Scarborough Museums Trust.
“Their thoughts and memories are the lens for interpretation, and their voice is prominent, rather than the more traditional curator’s voice, meaning that visitors can enjoy familiar objects in a slightly different way.
“I hope this will spark intergenerational conversation and encourage visitors to share their own reminiscences and recollections of living or visiting Scarborough.”
Exhibition visitors will be encouraged to contribute by sharing stories, memories, photos, videos and more besides on social media, using the hashtag #OurSeasideTown. The posts then will appear on a social media wall in the gallery.
Simon Hedges, head of curation, exhibitions and collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “Scarborough: Our Seaside Town is about immersing yourself in a memory, not just the object or image but also the sounds and the smells: a trigger to a different time and place.
“Our recreation of the 1950s’ museum diorama has not only the sound of the nesting birds of Bempton Cliffs, but that very distinctive smell awaits you as well.”
Scarborough Art Gallery has been awarded the VisitEngland We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying adhetence to Government and public health guidance with regard to Covid-19.
Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will be exhibited on the ground floor and will be fully wheelchair accessible. Visitors for the foreseeable future will be asked to book a slot via the trust’s website at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com. Details will be posted shortly.
Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery is by annual pass at a cost of £3 that gives unlimited entry to both the gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year. Once the gallery reopens under lockdown easement measures, opening hours will be 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays.
SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is among 13 museums and heritage organisations chosen to join a nationwide scheme to inspire museums to address matters such as climate change.
The No Going Back Peer Learning Programme is run by the Happy Museum Project, an Arts Council England-funded programme that looks at how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future.
The programme aims to inspire museums and their communities to shape new stories and actions to address the climate and ecological emergency.
Christine Rostron, learning manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “We are delighted to be given the chance to work with museum colleagues across the UK to help us think about how museums can work with local communities and respond positively to creating a sustainable future.
“We recognise that we operate in one of the most important coastal regions in Europe and are lucky enough to have extremely important geological and natural history collections.
“We are especially keen to use these objects to tell stories about the environment and support children to learn to love their natural surroundings and to be advocates for positive environmental change.
“In 2019, in partnership with Invisible Dust, we delivered Future Fossils, a learning project with a local primary school that demonstrated humans’ impact on our environment and supported children to become activists and advocates for our local environment.
“One Year 4 participant said: ‘It gave me confidence that by working together we can change the world. It’s not just for Scarborough, it’s something all young people around the world should do’.
“The Happy Museum Project will help us to build on and continue this type of work with our community.”
Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “As a museum service working on the Yorkshire coast, we are committed to playing our part in protecting and raising awareness of the environment.
“We are also the custodians of a collection of significant environmental and scientific interest and we feel duty bound to make the collection fully available for vital research, and to help the trust itself move to a position where we embrace and declare a climate emergency.”
The 13 museums selected to take part range from the Cornwall Museums Partnership to Oriel y Parc National Park Visitor Centre and Landscape Gallery, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Participating too are Leeds Museums and Galleries, Saltaire World Heritage Education Association, Wakefield Museums and Castles and Yorkshire’s Maritime City project from Hull Culture and Leisure.
UNIQUE vintage photographs depicting Woodend, in its days as the private Scarborough summer home of the Sitwell literary family, have been donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by a descendant, journalist William Sitwell.
William is the grandson of writer Sacheverell Sitwell, who, together with brother Osbert and sister Edith, spent many summers at the house in The Crescent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The most famous of the three siblings, William’s great-aunt Edith, was born at Woodend in 1887. William writes for The Daily Telegraph, among other publications, and is a judge on BBC1’s MasterChef.
When clearing out family belongings, he came across photos that show Woodend, now a creative industries centre, in its heyday as a family home, with a spacious entrance hall, busy living rooms and a palm-filled glasshouse.
William Sitwell says: “I’ve visited Scarborough on many occasions and have always relished a trip to Woodend, now a creative hub run by a collection of talented people my ancestors would be proud of.
“But it’s always strange walking around a museum and wondering what it must have been like as a home, with the presence of my eccentric forebears. When I came across these old photographs, the settings looked familiar and then I realised they were of Woodend, fully furnished and looking very Victorian.
“I knew at once that they should be sent to Andrew Clay [chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust], who would cherish them and share them with visitors. They bring a wonderful insight to a lost era.”
Clay says: “The vintage photographs of Woodend are delightful. We have often wondered what these rooms looked like when the Sitwell family lived here and now we have a tantalising glimpse of Woodend in that era.
“It is fascinating to see the beautiful furnishings that once adorned these spaces. They conjure up a long-lost age of elegance and remind us today how sophisticated life on The Crescent really was. We are very grateful to William Sitwell for making this gift and we look forward to keeping in touch.”
Scarborough Museums Trust’s venues – Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and the Woodend Gallery – are closed during Lockdown 3, but the trust hopes to be able to put the photographs on public display as soon as possible.
SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust’s lockdown-launched series of New Digital Commissions from leading British artists is complete and available online.
The project was introduced by the trust in response to the first lockdown in March as a “dynamic new approach to its collections, learning and exhibition programming during the Coronavirus crisis”.
Key to the series was a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality of access and innovative ways to promote this message. A diverse range of artists – Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Kirsty Harris, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Jane Poulton and Feral Practice’s Fiona MacDonald – created digital artworks for release online over the spring and summer across social-media platforms.
Trust chief executive Andrew Clay says: “It’s been so important this year for people to have access to the arts and culture: for many people, they’re a thought-provoking lifeline and have a proven positive effect on our mental health.”
Curator Dorcas Taylor says: “Museums and galleries have a social responsibility to support communities, now more than ever before. We can provide a platform for creative expression that enables artists to share their messages to communities in lockdown. Their artworks can support personal wellbeing or become an opportunity to consider some of these wider issues.”
Scarborough Museums Trust has provided a range of access tools to accompany the digital content to support as many people as possible to connect. Among them have been visual guides, in the form of “social stories”, by Scarborough illustrator Savannah Storm that give audiences downloadable information on what to expect before accessing digital content. Subtitles and audio descriptions have been used wherever possible.
Lucy Carruthers’ film, Animal Archives: Rewilding The Museum explores how we forge connections at a time of distancing. Interested in the relationship between inside and outside, all the more pertinent during lockdown, she asks how social isolation affects museum objects.
Estabrak’s Homecoming: A Placeless Place is a multi-layered touring and participatory project that uses community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges around home, identity, and displacement.
It started in 2019 in Brighton and Hull and saw the social experiment, which invites honest expression and participation through ultraviolet light, invisible ink and dark spaces, introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.
Kirsty Harris created Whispers From The Museum, a six-part online and immersive adventure for children and families, inviting them to read George’s logbook, discover amazing museum objects and take part in art and craft activities.
Wanja Kimani made a film, Butterfly, that follows a walk from a child’s eye view as she spent more time noticing the world around her and sensory experiences became amplified.
Jade Montserrat produced a film with filmmakers Webb-Ellis that explores the impact of lockdown and chronicles the process of making, and new ways of being, that encourage mutual support and acts of care.
Jane Poulton produced a series of photographs and text called From Stardust To Stardust, focusing on personal objects she owns as she considers whether those that mean the most to us are often acquired at times of crisis and what comfort they may bring.
Feral Practice’s film, The Unseesables, explores themes of extinction by focusing on three “unseeable” birds: the great bustard, the corncrake and the great auk. Examples of all three can be found in the trust’s taxidermy collection.
Some of the New Digital Commissions artists will be participating in What If? at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda from April 24 to August 30 2021.
Next year’s exhibition will explore “the civic responsibility of museums and their collections and how we could introduce wider narratives into our spaces to make our institutions relevant to both the world and our local community”.
SPOOKY goings-on for Halloween and climate-conscious art are on offer from Scarborough Museums Trust for half-term.
The Spooky Museum Weekend runs amok from Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 1 at the Rotunda Museum, when visitors are invited to explore the museum in Halloween fancy dress from 10am to 4pm each day.
The spooky weekend is suitable for families, who can follow the trail and make and take a deer or wolf mask inspired by the trust’s Star Carr headdress.
Booking is essential, either by calling 01723 353665 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to book a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery.
The Spooky Star Carr Trail can be enjoyed every day during half-term except Monday. Families are invited to join the wolf tribe and look for the wolves hidden in the Rotunda. “Crack the puzzle and enter our prize draw,” says the trust.
The half-term events include two that form part of this year’s Big Draw, Britain’s annual festival of drawing. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, The Big Green Draw Festival #ClimateOfChange focuses on the relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems, highlighting how we live today and the ways we do and do not harmonise with nature.
The Big Green Draw: Plant, Grow, Draw! at Scarborough Art Gallery on Monday, October 26, from 10am to 4pm, invites you to be inspired by the trust’s seed collection to create your own drawings. “Have a go at decorating a plant pot and sow a seed to take home and grow,” says the trust.
Again suitable for families, booking is essential for this activity on 01723 374753 or by emailing email@example.com for a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery for this relaxed event, fully accessible for disabled and non-disabled children.
On Saturday, October 24 and 31, you can tune into The Big Green Draw: Drawing with Nature on the trust’s YouTube Channel at 10am to take part in online drawing challenges inspired by the natural world. To join in this pre-recorded event, suitable for families, you will need drawing materials, scissors and glue.
The Big Green Scavenger Trail will take place every day during half-term, except Monday, at Scarborough Art Gallery and The Crescent. To hunt for wildlife on The Crescent in a special scavenger trail designed by artist Savannah Storm, families will need to pick up a copy from Scarborough Art Gallery.
Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “We’re delighted to be able to offer some socially-distanced events for our families, alongside some online challenges. Our Halloween and Big Draw activities are always so popular and we can’t wait to see families and children back in our venues for lots of creative fun!”
Staff at Scarborough Museums Trust have been trained in post-lockdown safety procedures, and the trust has been awarded VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying the venues’ adherence to Government and public health guidance.
Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for adults costs £3 for an annual pass; for under-18s, entry is free. For all activities, all children must be accompanied by an adult. Both venues are open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm.
SCARBOROUGH residents are being asked to participate in a digital art project that explores what “home” means to them.
Led by the artist and former refugee Estabrak, Homecoming; A Placeless Place is the last of a series of lockdown digital commissions from Scarborough Museums Trust in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Estabrak’s commission is designed to “bring together individual and collective experiences and connect diverse voices and realities from the varied communities of the town”.
Participants are invited to call, text or WhatsApp to leave a message of any length, in any language, around the concept of “home”. Messages can be left anonymously or with a name, age and language attached. Those unable to communicate verbally, or who would rather draw something, can share drawings or illustrations.
The messages will be incorporated into a film that applies concepts surrounding ultraviolet light and invisible ink.
Estabrak is keen to engage Scarborough voices with her own, interweaving individual and collective experiences while also relating these shared realities to recordings and photographs found in the Scarborough Borough Collection.
Her film will be available on the trust’s website, scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, and social media from late-August.
Estabrak says: “Anyone who resides in Scarborough is encouraged to take part in this project, no matter your experience – both positive and negative; no matter your understanding of what ‘home’ means – whether literal or abstract; whatever your age, race, class, size, gender/s, ability or orientation is. You are all welcome to share your experience.”
Homecoming is a multi-layered touring and participatory project that uses community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges around home, identity and displacement.
The project started in 2019 in Brighton and Hull and now its social experiment, Homecoming; A Placeless Place, will be introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.
To take part, please call 07547 149229 by Sunday, August 16. Providing you have access to WiFi, or an inclusive data plan, all voice notes or images sent via WhatsApp are free. Depending on your data plan, leaving a voicemail also will be free – please check with your provider if you are unsure of this.
“As an independent multidisciplinary artist and progressive facilitator, I am committed to inclusivity, and to participatory arts practice that helps highlight visibility towards marginalised communities and everyday people,” says Estabrak.
“My practice is repeatedly engaged with water and often explores themes related to the intersectionality of my own identity as LGBTQIA+, Arab, mixed heritage, neuro-diverse, culturally Muslim and former refugee.
“Led by the emotive, my aim is to help re-humanise many de-humanised realities, while focusing on alternative ways of safe collaboration, understanding and exchange that encourage the sharing and dismantling of power, helping move towards racial, social, humanitarian and climate justice.”
In her work as an award-winning multi-disciplinary visual artist and filmmaker, Estabrak has been supported by the BBC, Wellcome Trust, Invisible Dust, University of Hull and Ocean Global Foundation.
She has presented work to the United Nations and worked with numerous NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations] in television and film, as well as exhibiting internationally and at Tate Britain and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She also takes part in international fellowships and residencies, latterly collaborating with scientists and academics.
As well as Estabrak, artists Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat and Lucy Carruthers have created digital artworks for Scarborough Museums Trust this summer on assorted social media platforms and all are still available to view. More information on these commissions can be found at: scarboroughmuseumstrust.com.