Community art projects take flight
Published on: 4 March 2020
Date: 27 March 2020 – 28 March 2021
Location: Mezzanine Gallery, Hangars 3-5
A collection of works by BA and MA Fine Art and Printmaking students from Middlesex University London will go on display at the Royal Air Force Museum London later this month. This vibrant new display is the result of the Museum’s community co-production and co-curation initiative in which local communities develop their understanding of collections through outreach.
Students were invited to respond creatively to a selection of drawings and watercolours chosen for the Museum’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘In Air and Fire: War Artists, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz’, opening to the public on 27 March. As well as closely engaging with the works behind the scenes, attending a drawing workshop, students engaged with displays around the Museum to consider wider visual and historical contexts for their subject-matter.
Middlesex University Associate Professor of Painting and Printmaking, Steve Mumberson said:
“The opportunity for students from the MA Printmaking, MA Fine Art and BA Fine Art to see and draw from works by original war artists – both well-known and unknown figures – proved to be a formative experience. Seeing works by little-known women war artists, either purchased by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee or produced independently, resonated with the students in different ways. It stirred them to reflect on the major events of the war and how these affected their grandparents across the world, both in terms of military involvement and socio-culturally. As for those of us who are older, the project has more immediately sparked thoughts about our parents’ involvement during those difficult months from the summer of 1940 and throughout the Blitz. This exhibition of our work represents those researches and engagements, personal to us all.”
The students’ art outreach project will showcase a wide range of works, featuring different approaches to printmaking – linocut, woodcut, etching, screenprint, and digital – as well as painting and installation.
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at Middlesex, Mark Hunter said:
“Middlesex University has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the RAF Museum. Students from across Dance, Photography, Illustration, Fine Art and Printmaking have collaborated with the Museum on a range of projects: the most recent of which saw our Fine Art and Printmaking students engage in a piece of outreach work by creatively responding to items from the collection. This was a wonderful opportunity to further our links in with the RAF Museum, the local community and the borough of Barnet more broadly”
The artwork will be displayed in the Mezzanine Gallery, adjacent to the ‘In Air and Fire’ exhibition in the Museum’s Art Gallery from 27 March 2020 until 28 March 2021, entry is free.
Consultations with the local community
Furthering engagement with the local community, the Museum’s Heritage Outreach Officer led consultations with local community groups to garner their thoughts and opinions about some of the war artists’ works. These comments will be reflected in select community captions within two of the exhibition sections ‘Shelter and Civil Defence’ and ‘The Blitz’.
Five community groups; Age UK Barnet, Grange Big Local, Grahame Park Drop-in Group, ESOL (English as a Second or Foreign Language) learners, and the Museum’s ‘Art for Wellbeing’ cohort, actively participated in the consultation process, each group bringing a unique perspective to the works. Exhibition visitors will get to see which artworks were the most popular with each group and to join in the dialogue.
RAF Museum Heritage Outreach Officer, Rhiannon Watkinson said:
“With our local area having such strong links to The Battle of Britain and The Blitz – from the bombing of Colindale underground station to Fighter Command pilots flying out of RAF Hendon, I knew I had to invite discussion from our local community, to enrich participation with another layer of interpretation. The community captions also allow exhibition audiences to hear very different perspectives on the artworks – different voices.”