Free & open to all
‘multiplied from layers or shoots’ ; ‘to produce a new plant using a parent plant ‘ ; ‘multiplied from layers or shoots’ ; ‘spread and promote (an idea, theory, etc.) widely’
In gardening, propagating plants is an act of resourcefulness – taking cuttings from one plant and using small pieces to grow new shoots that can be shared and replanted; the beginning of something new.
The past year and a half has magnified social issues particularly relevant to Turf’s hometown of Croydon and called into question the systems perpetuating them. With Croydon Council’s financial difficulties pushing public services into heightened states of uncertainty, it’s clear that the Croydon community has suffered the effects of decisions made about us, without us. It’s urgent to fight for spaces and opportunities which are responsive to and rooted in the local community, and which in turn help people to feel rooted to local spaces – not disconnected from them. In this pilot project, we wanted to shift our role at Turf from creating exhibitions to creating an environment for sustainable recovery through creativity and curiosity – making space, materials, and support available for people to;
- Ask questions & respond to problems that feel relevant to them.
- Reimagine alternative futures for space & community in Croydon and think about what could happen to these spaces when they are defined by those using them.
- Explore new models of making & decision-making together.
A framework co-created with creative educators Freedom & Balance will provide a catalyst for helping five+ locally connected artists think about some of these different ideas and produce new creative responses to them.
Discussion, planning, creation and evaluation will all take place in the space, openly visible and accessible for the public to get involved in along the way. Evolving collectively with visitors so the works can act as a springboard for ongoing discussion, we hope for the project to help equip participants with renewed energy, skills & confidence to feel able to create or collaborate, and go on to propagate new opportunities for themselves and others.
This page and our Instagram will also document the process for those further afield.
I am a poet/writer who has only recently felt comfortable saying that out loud! My work is varied in form and style but I am always interested in exploring what connects us and what keeps us apart. I have worked in mental health and bereavement for the last 15 years and see creativity as a key component of the human experience and our survival. Having studied American literature and poetry at Leeds University, I enjoy the thinking and theories of academia but believe they are most useful when they are accessible and open to everyone. I live with my partner, two children and cat in Purley on a steep hill which keeps my legs and lungs strong. Being in green spaces and finding pockets of nature in urban environments inspires.
Freedom & Balance
“We are Freedom & Balance, an art college for the artist in everyone. We believe that an art college done well can help you ask the right questions in new ways, in a world that is ever-changing and in need of solutions. We believe that art is not just an activity for the gifted few, but a way of thinking that can be applicable to the personal, professional and social lives of everyone. We design curriculums to help you exercise your creative identity week-by-week, season-by-season.”
For more information about Freedom & Balance and their previous projects, check their website.
Orna Kazimi is an Afghan visual artist based in London. Orna’s work and research explore personal encounters with migration in relation to collective memories of displacement through drawings, installation and writing. Her works have been shown at sight and sound workshop at Tate Exchange- Tate Modern- London 2018, overprint at Centre de la Gravure et de l’image imprimée museum-Belgium 2018, Art Amongst War: Visual Culture in Afghanistan-TCNJ Art Gallery- New Jersey 2014, 4th Afghan Contemporary Art Prize Exhibition- Queen’s Palace- Afghanistan 2013. She was awarded the Caspian Arts Foundation Scholarship (2016) and studied at the Central Saint Martins in London (2018).
I respond to this overwhelming world by making the natural into the strange and the strange into the natural. This can take the form of knitting funny creatures, drawing cartoons, embroidering toile de jouy, writing speculative fiction, or wandering the woods.
This wide-ranging practise is vital to feeling out all the conundrums, contradictions, and problems that arise as I experience life on this naughty earth. Most of my questions are focused on my relationship to the land on which I live, including Croydon, where I spent the first two-thirds of my life. My questions are slowly answered through this making / dreaming / wandering process, as well as more traditional academic research into the history of the land, materials, and social relations.
Making things, real or imagined, helps me think of how we can unmake the violent, extractive relationships that structure our world. Moving fluidly between art and craft, “high” culture and “low” culture, the historical and the imaginative helps people find my work. The embedding of art within community and the importance of material as the basis for coalitional struggle and fabulous textiles are my guiding principles for art and revolution.
I am a poet, editor and artist raised in Croydon, though currently based in Elephant and Castle. Much of my work is concerned with reflecting on everyday urban experience, particularly through the lens of racialisation and gendering, and developing creative expression for that. I am interested in deconstructing policy-driven language with regard to development and futures, instead trying to find cross-cultural and innovative methods that may be submerged within the wider social ecosystem we reside. Croydon as a post-industrial brutalist multiculture is a prime site for thinking the wider picture through. I also see that as something tied to uncovering our sense of history, whether that be tied up in diaspora, industry, or everyday culture. While much of my work is poetry-oriented, I have worked with sound and performance, and I am keen to develop how we can collectively and consciously desediment collective pasts. I am an editor at the 87 Press, a small press for innovative poetry, and write freelance for art, literary and music magazines with a focus on queer and racialised experimental work.
When planning ‘Propagate This’, we got together at Turf and asked ourselves questions like;
How could we be less focused on outcomes?
We all felt our programming had usually had an ‘expectation’ of an exhibition as the main outcome, and the main aspect open to the public. We wanted to develop a less formulaic way of working with room to experiment & open up decision-making more. We also saw this as a response to questions we put out about what art spaces should be like & whether ‘traditional’ exhibition-making is essential to what Turf is. We also wondered whether projects had to start and finish so decisively and could instead overlap with one another, allowing greater potential for cross-pollination and skill-sharing between artists & participants, especially those who might not otherwise cross paths (especially bridging the still-too-prevalent distinction between ‘artists’ & ‘non-artists’)
How could we be more open and bridge these gaps?
We wanted more transparency & to open up artists’ processes. We’ve seen how effective seeing art being made can ignite peoples’ curiosity. We also wanted to make the ongoing conversations we have about the trajectory of arts & culture and Croydon more open.
How can our projects themselves have more long term impact?
In the past, though they’ve informed future programming, projects have effectively ended when exhibitions have ended. We want what happens at Turf to have long-term impact, to reach beyond just the exhibition period.
What types of commissions were needed?
When planning this project, amongst our team & audiences, we asked how it was best to spread resources and opted for a higher number of smaller, overlapping commissions, a change from our usual larger, fewer commissions. At this time when many artists have had projects cancelled & have lost income, we wanted to be able to provide the widest range of new opportunities which might act as a catalyst to ‘propagate’ more.
Artist led… or just-happens-to-be-led-by-artists?
Turf is artist-led, but our programming approach has at times left us struggling to maintain our own practices (and wellbeing), leading us to question what it means to be an artist-led space and how the programme & Turf artists’ practices are informed by one another. ‘Propagate This’ aims to test addressing that issue, with a more experimental programming framework giving us more opportunity to engage with & interweave our practices into the programme as artists as well as ‘staff’.
For this project three of five four of six [we managed to scrape together some more money so that one more of the amazing applicants could take part] participant artists will be chosen via an open call. We’re looking for creators of any kind who;
- Are connected to Croydon.
- Enjoy co-creating & sharing ownership of ideas.
- Are interested in the ideas above!
What will I need to do?
- Be available 4th September 1pm – 5pm to attend a half-day workshop at Turf with Freedom & Balance and Turf. This will involve reflecting on and responding to the ideas above, working collectively with the other participants.
- You’ll then have time to reflect on a creative response – which could end up being individual or collaborative with other participants or organisations – with support from us and Freedom & Balance. We’ll have a brief catch-up on the 8th September (in person or online).
- Return to the space at some point between 17 Sept & 15th Oct to produce the creative response in the gallery at Turf.
It could be the creation of new artwork made collaboratively with visitors, a workshop, a brainstorming session, a game that allows for chance meetings, a written response to current issues, a space that enables people to slow down & spend time together at Turf, a structure that supports the display of artworks from our local community, or whatever else emerges!
There are no set expectations for the format of what’s made, just that:
• It responds to their ideas above, is relevant to Croydon in some way & thinks about long-term impact beyond the project (however small!)
• For planning & processes to be publicly visible throughout & for the public to be able to get involved.
During the project you’d be welcome to spend as much time working in the space at Turf as you wish, but we only expect you to come back once! You’ll also have the opportunity to get to know and/or work with members of our collectives MOSS & Art Press and some of our local community partners like Croydon School of Art & local primary schools.
- 16th October we’ll all come together for a shared lunch and to de-install and evaluate the project.
Pay & materials budget
Participants will be paid £240 each, with up to £150 additional production and materials budget per artist – although the total materials budget for the project could also be collaboratively distributed amongst the group.
We’ll also provide a bunch of additional materials and equipment to try and encourage a more environmentally friendly methodology for creating new works. This will include paper, pens, clay, camera & recording equipment, printer, projector, wood, tools and lots more. We have access to Risograph facilities in the space too, via the lovely Print Collective!
How to apply
Simply send us a small something to tell us about you, your connection to Croydon and why you’d like to be involved by midnight Tues 24th August. It could be any format; a paragraph, some links, an image, a video, audio, etc!