Sunday, 11 December 2011

Lots of Pics from Houston

Here are the links to two collections of photos from our visit to Project Row Houses.

The first collection includes documentary snaps of our activities.

The second collection includes images with a certain 'horizontal' aesthetic.

I find its best to view them as a slideshow.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Tour of Houston!

Rick was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to take the group on a tour of Houston, looking at various different neighborhoods as well as the city. I think it was vital experience for us all to enable us to put into context the 'project row houses' and the environment in which it was running. I was blown away by the contrast in neighborhoods that literally bordered one another. The tour consisted of going through other areas of third ward and Rick was very informative pointing out the historic borders of some of the wards and the demographic of each area. For me personally the most interesting part of the tour was to see the new developments in the city which is something which seems to be regular practice for some of the large developers in the city. It seemed that large developers could erect new buildings, housing complexes at will and the cultural fabric of the city and the history of the city was suffering as a result.

The contrast was something that I myself have not seen before. Some areas were housed the more affluent population where houses were absolute magnificent. All the surrounding areas and infrastructure were kept in impeccable condition. These areas compared to some of the 'ghettos' housing mainly african american and mexican people were in dire condition. Areas were generally unkept with many abandoned housing. Many of these areas had issues with drugs, gang violence and prostitution. I can honestly say, that although elements of this exist in the United Kingdom i have never been exposed to economic segregation to the extent of what I've seen in Houston
What was empowering however, was to see how empowered people from some less well to do areas were in their struggle to keep their communities in tact and to preserve the character and history of many local areas/wards. I can think of many times in the UK where issues may arise but communities lack the togetherness, leaders and generally are not empowered enough to fight for the cause. During my trip I've seen many examples of an empowered community working together something 'project row houses' is the living embodiment of.

Overall very useful tour, really put the project into prospective and really made me relaise how the project is multi-layerd and not just houses used for art but encompass several issues, social injustices in the United States and particularly in Houston.
Wasif Bhatti (Lancashire Young People Service)

A broader Huston context to PRH

Aerosol Warefare

Aamirs Photos

Thinking ahead

There is no doubt we have been inspired here both as individuals and as a group. This was a risk coming here, will it full fill expectations? What could we learn? Is it relevant to Brierfield? Wednesday was a turning point, presenting as In-Situ to the PRH team and community raised lots of questions for the group, about they they fit in individually and as through their respective orgainisations. We had a very challenging and productive conversation. The speed in which we have moved to get this ready, has been great, but this week and our conversations with the group has enabled us to explore very deeply our future partnerships and how we can collectively make an impact. There have been some key moments for a lot of people and the group have all had experiences in some form to inspire and challenge.

We have been able to be honest and open with all our thoughts and the process has changed the nature of the conversations for me (Paul) with the group member having experienced first hand the role arts have played in the renewal here at PRH

Collectiveley we have committed to a joint visioning process and developing a clarity on long term goals but a newly formed understanding that we can make mistakes and try things, if we are strong together

We have also learnt lots about organising and running a trip like this! Paul Hartley (In-situ)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

After school programme

Really inspired and humbled by the fantastic after school programme run by Hamdiya.  The quality of education is outstanding and all within in an arts context!!  We have a lot to learn from this.  Can't wait to get back to school and start a 'pen pal' style exchange between our students and theirs.  Definite highlight so far. Wendy Thain, teacher at Marsden Heights Community College

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Day three

Phone home

Checking in with our lovely funder Cath in the Attic and the POPL Network

Books & music to check out

The Power of Place
Design & Landscape for People (New approaches to renewal)
How Racism Takes Place
Row - Trajectories through the shotgun house
Live Work - The collaboration between Rice building workshop and Project Row Houses.

Lightin Hopkins - deep blues using the buses for gigs, he would get locked in and passengers road the bus all night partying

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Similar challenges

As much as there is much to learn and be inspired by PRH, its amazing we have some of the same challenges with partnerships, finding funding and mixing art and renewal. We had to present to the board last night and met a broad range of people from a range of professional backgrounds and residents. It was great to see how this structure works. Its just really good to see how artists round the table are completely equal in making decisions. Some partners in the area working very closely with PRH and some don't, not everyone can like what you do.

A great example of finding creative solutions to issues facing the block. The petrol station is an area which has issues with drug dealing and petty crime etc. The board wanted to create more fences etc etc. Rather than respond with this a group got together and decided to have parties on the land of the petrol station and very soon the people creating the issues moved on and those in-between got involved in Project Row Houses, brilliant! (Could probably explain that better but this is the kind of process which makes PRH special).

Even though we have some key challenges ahead, our group are getting inspired, teachers getting ideas on paper and a real can do attitude coming through. We have a fund-raising session planned with Michael the executive director which is brilliant, they are so open to help and share learning. Just being orotund their space, we are continually meeting people from the team who engage in who they are what they are doing, meeting people from the community who all seem to already know about us!

We have a big presentation tomorrow over a community lunch where we are all bringing food, so we are prepping our best english dishes or puddings, apple crumble, mince pies and of course Lancashire hot pot!

Planning individual schedules and exploring Huston

The Tour

More passion and discussion

Information overload.....inspiring but honest


After a long flight and much interrogation we eventually landed in Huston and taken to Project Row with a whistle stop night tour of their site. They have been unbelievably welcoming and today has been full on packed day, meeting the team and touring the site. The passion is clear with and strong sense of continuity. Community members as staff and volunteers as well as the vibrate artist in residence programme. Whats been really clear today is the way in which the project as developed in an organic way,making mistakes, dealing with the same issues as in Pendle but very much at their needs. A message which stood out was the investment in people who will then invest in others, whether in project row or the wider community.

'something that really stood out for me was the passion from the staff and volunteers who managed the organisation' to go forward in Pendle what we need is ' joined up thinking' and get all sections of community to engage in making positive changes for the betterment of Pendle but primarily 'Brierfield' through using local artists and bringing good examples from Project Row'. Naheed (Resident & Community Worker)

'Ok, it's a typical 'Americanism' but our response to the project today has been that it's awesome.. Start with what you have and work with it.. Appreciate diversity and celebrate it... The day started with a moving conversation with our neighbour 'Brother-in-Law'. I asked him what it was like to live in Project Row, "it's a nice place to come home to". Sadly, I can't say that about Brierfield, not after the halted 'regeneration'. I want to find a way to create this for Brierfield and Pendle. By the way - Texas is bloomin freezin right now'!!! Thea (Resident & practitioner)

'Absolutely fantastic trip so far. After an EPIC journey followed by two interrogations from the immigration it was finally great to be in the the US of A!! Just had an introduction to the project here in the third ward. Got to see its totally inspiring. the enthusiasm of the staff is second to none and its really empowering to see that when a community works collectively it can achieve real great things! Looking forward to engaging with the community and especially the young people to see how what makes them want to engage consistently with the project. Lets hope we can all come back and bring some os this positivity back to pendle'. Wasif (Young People Service Youth Worker)

Beautiful Huston morning at Project Row
Meeting JL the local cleaner
Communograph inspiring our teaching colleagues from Marsden Heights

Meeting the team
Touring the site

The original house first renovated for artists

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

design workshop No. 2

A problem working as a visiting artist in a school delivering a programme of creative work that lies outside of the curriculum is a lack of interim stimulus. The pupils selected to be involved in the design workshop did not meet again, as a group, for 7 days, and this resulted in - understandable - forgetfulness.
At the end of the last workshop William requested that the young people did homework: begin to think about, and put down on paper, their perfect community pad ideas.
7 days later
Workshop No 2.
Only three had remembered their homework. This was a shame but ultimately did not hinder our next steps for design development.
The three pupils who had remembered to bring in their homework talked about their ideal community pad design: the shape, why they chose the shape, what the structure was made from, alternative technology features, environmental features, and functional features. All three had chosen the basic cube shape, however, one pupil flipped the cube so that the only point of contact with the ground was one corner of the cube: creating a Trigonal trapezohedron

Of course this raises a number of issues, not least, what is stopping the cube from falling over? If the pod we are designing is a Trigonal trapezohedron, structurally, how do we make it stable? This was the starting point for today's workshop. Split into groups, given large sheets of paper and bright coloured felt tip pens, the pupils worked collaboratively to solve design problems presented by a familiar shape being tilted into a position that, without support, is structurally impossible. In addition, the shape presented further design problems: where is the floor level? And, with a raised floor, what use can be made of the void created beneath?

Their works on paper became a visual dialogue: they talked amongst themselves whilst scribbling on the sheets of paper; resulting in interesting visual imagery loaded with ideas. 

After the one-hour workshop session they were bursting with ideas and full of enthusiasm. The bell rang too soon for us. We had just got into our stride and had started to discuss eco-build issues and solutions.
Their homework for this week: to find out about alternative energy.
To be continued…

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

In-Conversation 001 took place at Brierfield Library. Paul Kelly led a presentation on artists working with communities and discussed with In-Situ artists William Titley and Kerry Morrison how the programme will develop in Brierfield. The next in-convesation will be hosting visiting Lahore arts lecturers as part of a British Council exchange with UCLan on Wednesday 7th Dec time to be confirmed.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Design workshop

Here are some notes made by the young people in the first workshop.
We introduced the idea of having a portable cabin which can be situated in public spaces for a variety of community activities i.e. group meetings, one to one chats, cups of tea or just a temporary chillout space for young people.
We are hoping to engage local businesses in this aspect of 'In-Situ' so watch this space.
There are 6 workshops altogether and we hope to have a couple of interesting designs for a viable community pad by the time we get to week five.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Time for more tea

With only one day a week to dedicate to in-situ at the moment, time for tea is rare.
We’ve a school project to sort out – starting next week - as well as the R&D, “explore and exchange”, trip to Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas; where ten representatives from Brierfield and Nelson - including artists, youth workers, teachers, and residents - will spend a week, as guests of Project Row Houses, with artist and founder, Rick Lowe, and the Project Row Team.
That said: William and I did find time for tea.
We went to Ivy St picnic bench
Took out our tea making equipment: kettle, camping stove, tea pot, mugs, tea, milk, sugar cubes, and of course water and prepared for a brew

Temperamental – the camping stove refused to give us a flame
So to plan B
William’s camper van stove
Resulting in a perfect brew n cuppa for two

We sat, drinking tea, hoping that we would encounter Raj and Kaseem and be able to offer them a brew
But our time was too short
And our timing wrong
No one but us at the bench today
But many a passer by doffed their caps, said hello, and commented on the amazing sunshine for this time of year

We finished our brews
packed up
and went to Brierfield Library - In-situ’s new base camp
A meeting with in-support: our steering group…