The Guernica Remakings exhibition is currently touring the Eastern Cape of South Africa (October 2022) collaborating with Kids’ Guernica, the Keiskamma Art Project and Masifunde. Accompanying the exhibition at both locations is a Learning Lab the focus of which is to co-create understandings of the role of art in the two respective communities, with a focus on elevating children’s views, opinions, and experience of art. The setting of this Lab brings together the Guernica Remakings exhibition and the Kids’ Guernica peace painting workshop.
A pop-up version of the activist art exhibition Guernica Remakings has been created for this tour. Text panels accompanying each artwork now feature a question – directed at the viewer but also to introduce a line of thinking about the artwork.
This has involved a re-design to ensure it is child-friendly to enable young people to actively help with the exhibition installation at each location. The artworks will be installed on poles with self-supporting stands, the stands are colour coded for each artwork. This will create a stimulating learning environment for the lab and brings the Guernica Remakings exhibition to these two communities, for the first time. In the exhibition key empowering collaborative activist art practices are highlighted through the effective cross-cultural translation of Guernica. Participants are invited to engage in the exhibition, which highlights contemporary concerns about war and displaced people, and seeks to raise interest in activist art and peace movements, and the role of art in sustainable community development.
Dr Nicola Ashmore first visited the Keiskamma Art Project in 2015, located in the village of Hamburg. Where she interviewed those involved in the creation of the 2010 Keiskamma Guernica. Two years on the fifth, small scale Keiskamma Guernica was commissioned in 2017 and its creation documented, featuring the makers.
In 2019 four artists from the Keiskamma Art Project joined the 2019 Guernica Remakings tour in Mauritius and participated in the pARTage international artist residency. This tour continues the collaboration with Savina Tarsitano of Kids’ Guernica which began in 2019 in Mauritius. Savina is an international artist and peace activist. It is through this shared interest in remakings of Guernica that Nicola has come to know Savina. Savina has been working closely with Kids’ Guernica for many years facilitating youth workshops internationally, enabling and encouraging children to create their own collective image of a better future, in the form of a large scale painted canvas – almost a counterpoint to Picasso’s Guernica. The experience of working with Savina Tarsitano inspired this phase of the project.
The first 6 day Kids’ Guernica workshop in Hamburg, involves primary school-age children, along with their parents/grandparents who work at the Keiskamma Art Project and is taking place during a school holiday.
This tour then continues on to the city of Gqeberha with a new collaboration with NGO Masifunde. Masifunde takes a holistic approach to education embracing the creative arts, children are aligned with particular after school clubs in the visual arts or in music and performance and are taken through a 10-year Learner Development programme. Enriching their educational experience.
The second workshop in Gqeberha with Masifunde, is spread over 6 days, and will involve primary school-age children, who are students of the Masifunde Learner Development programme. Both workshops will involve the co-creation of a new collaborative artwork at each of the sites, to foster artistic engagement, collective decision making, and display co-created and culturally shared imagery that relates directly to each of the locations.
Research approach and methods
The pace and progression of the Kids’ Guernica workshops is leading the development of the project research, engaging participants in a process of collective thinking about collaborative art making in relation to their culture, their environment, their friends, and family.
During the workshops the team are talking to participants about what excites them, what they care about and what they think about art. Videographer, Joe Hague, is photographing and filming the workshops and our discussions. Excerpts and findings will be incorporated into two documentary videos, one per each location, these videos will be shared with the collaborative organisations for their own use as well as published on this website.
Research Fellow Dr Carolyn Watt has worked alongside Principal Investigator Dr Nicolas Ashmore and Widening Participation consultant Dr Katie Reid to develop a flexible reflective sharing practice – offered both in the context of enabling workshop participation and to facilitate co-creation.
By Dr Carolyn Watt and Dr Nicola Ashmore
This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [grant number AH/W00612X/1].