InterMEDS is an Erasmus+ funded project that sees Peshkar working with a team of organisations from Portgual, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and North Macedonia to interrogate, research and share learning around the subject of migration.
InterMEDS explores narratives around migration in Europe, interrogating the ways in which young people and adults interact with migration stories, how these stories impact community cohesion across Europe and how youth and community workers can help to communicate positive messages that improve relations between groups.
Partners on the InterMEDS project will produce a series of outputs including a youth work toolkit and policy documents which will be shared at a final conference in the UK (or online dependent upon the current situation).
Peshkar has commissioned three exciting artists to work alongside this project, responding to the themes that emerge from the research and drawing upon the experiences of migrant communities in their own local areas to create brand new pieces of artwork.
Introducing… the InterMEDS Artists
Ciara is a freelance journalist and photographer. Her background is in newspapers but her practice also includes documentary work, lecturing and running workshops. She has a track record of working with groups perceived as hard to reach – including Roma migrants, indigenous Gypsies and Travellers and asylum seekers. Previous writing clients have included The Guardian, Big Issue North (where she regularly stood in as editor), Save the Children, Action Aid, British Red Cross, BBC, Gay Times, Manchester Evening News, Inside Housing, Al Jazeera, Council of Europe, Roma Education Fund, Salford Council, University of Salford.
Her work on the InterMEDS project will build on previous work undertaken with Roma communities, using words, photography and video to explore stories of migration.
Sam is an artist and project manager working across digital and arts projects in the North West of England. His most recent artist residency was with In-Situ at Brierfield Railway Station, the results of which are being exhibited at Brierfield Library in Lancashire. He is also soon to have digital art work exhibited at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester. Sam is interested in exploring the potential of the technology that we carry in our pockets everyday and will be using photogrammetry to work with imagery generated from phone cameras. Sam first came into contact with Peshkar on our 2015 ‘Matchbox’ project so it is great to have him working with us on InterMEDS.
Sams’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slimeuniverse/
Toubie is a South African born artist currently residing in Manchester. A project at Design School was what inspired her to take up mural painting. She enjoyed the challenge of producing a life-sized painting on a wall. After a successful career as a mural artist she became interested in teaching art to children and the wider community. She started up her own children’s art club in 2013 and still continues to teach children art at her after school art club. She actively involves herself with community art projects and is always looking for her next creative opportunity. Toubie enjoys sharing her knowledge and helping people to be more creative. Toubie’s project will involve creating a piece of animation over the course of a range of workshops with different client groups.
First InterMEDS Artwork Goes Live!
2020 was a tough year for everyone, especially artists and we were thrilled that we were able to support some of our artists to continue with their practice through the Erasmus+ funded InterMEDS project.
Starting in January 2020, 3 artists have been exploring stories connected to migration for the last 18 months through a range of different artforms including photography, 3D mapping and animation.
Manchester-based photographer and journalist Ciara Leeming integrated the commission into a project that emerged through the 2020 lockdown and we are now proud to share the final products of this work.
The website for the project is here:
Last Spring I was commissioned by Peshkar as part of InterMEDs. Initially I was interested in how photogrammetry can be used as a way for people to record objects and places around them to democratise aspects of archive and heritage. Photogrammetry, or 3D scanning, is used in big budget films and games to recreate objects into virtual worlds. It has also been used in the museum and heritage sector to create digital copies of items from their collections.
The technology usually used for this is quite expensive and isn’t accessible to people usually. I was interested in how using a mobile phone and free software makes this process possible, gives project participants a deeper understanding of 3D graphics and photogrammetry, as well as giving a wider range of people an aspect of curatorial practice within a communal context.
I saw this as a potential way for people from different communities to learn new skills as well as communicate notions of value, bearing in mind the original brief of how to explore narratives around migration in Europe and give communities alternative ways of communicating their lived experience.
As well as continuing to develop my practice and learn new methods, a major part of this project was working with others. My first workshop took place in Spring 2019 at a library connected with Peshkar in Oldham. The open workshop was an introduction to some fundamental ideas about 3D modelling such as how a wireframe mesh is made, with participants drawing them around images or making them with blu-tack and matchsticks. It was a good introduction to these ideas, as well as for myself in how to run digital workshops with traditional making methods.
The workshop was well attended, with attendees ranging from 3-15 years old. It was nice to work with younger participants and talk about 3D modelling in things like films and games. I was interested in continuing this practice at a local college, but unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic had started and the UK was put into lockdown. [images set 1]
Over the next months I continued to develop my practice and work part-time, as the main people I wanted to work with weren’t available as colleges were closed, or when they reopened staff and students were busy catching up with work. However, Peshkar run an Arts Award programme – a qualification in the arts – and so I was able to work with their project participants over several workshops, as well as additional ones around Easter open to the public.
I ran through the workshops by introducing participants to general concepts, then going through some practical examples and of my work. There was then a video where I walked through the process and gave other demonstrations of how photogrammetry can be used in projects (from architecture to medical applications) then asked participants to create their own scans using the techniques discussed in the workshop.
As part of the Young Digitals Festival I initially wanted to create a virtual exhibition showcasing work done by workshop participants, though this didn’t work out as I had planned, partly due to people not being able to go out during lockdown restrictions. I had intended to also scan the library as part of this, so as I wasn’t able to go to the library I instead tried to recreate it from photographs (a sort of lo-fi photogrammetry method). The final video was for an audience in lockdown and tried to tie in the library, as libraries have moved more from a physical to a virtual space during lockdown. [link to thinglink of YDF21].
Overall I found the project interesting, particularly using such a technology-centred method to work with a community. Although the method of capturing videos was accessible as most people have a phone, and the software was free, the hardware required to actually process the images seemed a bit of an obstacle for some. If I was to run it again I would make it more of a photography project, then use those images as a springboard to discuss ideas of value before going into how objects can be 3D scanned. The processing itself would be centralised by the lead artist, whilst the work would be done collaboratively.
I think photography is an excellent form of communication, and with a majority of people using camera phones as a way of documenting/sharing images from their lives I think it has become one of the main mediums of the 21st century – however I think the post-processing of images; either with different effect filters or making memes, is the contemporary dialect of this visual language. Photogrammetry utilises that concept of modification that can transform what would have been a 2D image to a 3D object that is on a similar plane to big budget studios and in doing so, democratises the technology and methodology.
Underlining this is the assumption that most people have camera phones, when this wasn’t necessarily the case when it came down to workshop delivery. Very young people didn’t have phones, and the economic background of young people in the UK may be different to that of diaspora communities in partner EU countries. If I had to re-design this project with what I had learned I would do the following:
There is a wider context of how this fits into Museum and Heritage sectors and the intersection between cultural objects from different parts of the world displayed elsewhere, whilst this project attempts to invert that power dynamic to give communities greater agency and to capture where they are in that moment for both themselves and future generations. Though the underlying technology is complex, I think it also acts as an equaliser and a method for people to communicate their stories. I look forward to developing the project further.
Toubie would like to explore whether a community art project can be organised, executed and successfully completed through participants online? Can art be used as a “common” language to explore and express different experiences of migration?
Check out her website: