The Learning Lab has evolved over the course of this research as a means to encourage exhibition participation and critical reflection. The Learning Lab forms an inclusive and accessible environment to foster discussion on art and social change.
The first Learning Lab took place as part of the 2017 exhibition, there was a workspace complete with table, chairs, jigsaw, paper, pens, and an exhibition trail which invited people to create their own Guernica. A pin board was erected to allow participants to put their Guernica’s up on the gallery wall – both were well used throughout the duration of the exhibition in Brighton, UK. Another pin board invited the general public to display posters and literature related to political activity they were involved in. This activity and engagement caused an expansion to the socio-political scope present in the gallery. A co-created understanding of Guernica and activist activity in the city of Brighton, UK.
The Learning Lab evolved as part of the 2019 exhibition tour and took place at The Plaza, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. A busy schedule of events including live performance, poetry, panel discussions and artist talks was organised alongside the exhibition tour to co-create knowledge and understanding about key empowering collaborative art practices. An event titled Chagos et Guernica de Picasso, meme combat was hosted, which featured live performances and poetry readings and took place in the Guernica Remakings gallery space, in front of the display of costumes from Erika Lukert’s play, Guernica. The team also facilitated an open discussion Artist Talk Back about working collectively and the relationship between art and social change. The panel featured the three Guernica Remakings artists in residence in Mauritius: Ghanaian artist, Serge Attukwei Clottey, alongside Italian artist Savina Tarsitano in conversation with Saradha Soobrayen, the live artist, and Dr Nicola Ashmore, the curator of the Guernica Remakings exhibition. The Learning Lab in Mauritius also included the inspiring workshop setting of the Kids’ Guernica peace painting workshop, run by artist and facilitator Savina Tarsitano. The workshop took place in the district of Roche Bois, on the outskirts of Port Louis, with local youth charity, Future Hope. Future Hope provides food and care, support and educational structure for children. The Kids’ Guernica canvas was made over three days. The creation of the canvas brought together more than 50 school-age children (aged 6 – 16) from four districts in Port Louis. The children collectively had responsibility and control over the decision making and crafting of their creative vision. For many, that level of control and influence was a new experience, and they grew in confidence and ability, which can be seen in the canvas full of colour and collectively-crafted imagery, representing their lives in Mauritius and hopes for the future. During this workshop they co-generated a shared understanding of hope and peace within their community.
Inspired by this experience in Mauritius the Learning Lab was further developed for the South Africa 2022 exhibition tour, it was expanded upon to be child-friendly and encompassed a range of short talks by means of an introduction to the project team, a curator tour and the Kids’ Guernica workshop. The Guernica Remakings project collaborated with Kids’ Guernica, the Keiskamma Art Project and NGO Masifunde in South Africa to facilitate two peace painting workshops, Learning Labs and pop-up exhibitions which enabled children to express their hopes and dreams through collaborative art practice and artistic engagement. Participants were invited to engage in the Learning Lab through accompanying art activities. The varying formats and activities engaged groups beyond academic communities, with a focus on artists and school aged children living in disadvantaged communities in urban and rural settings in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of the Learning Lab was 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 brought together the Guernica Remakings exhibition and the Kids’ Guernica peace painting workshop. The Learning Lab encouraged collaborative endeavour and engaged participants in a process of collective thinking about art, culture and community.