As part of an exciting partnership, Tate Collective and Better Bankside have commissioned five emerging artists to create new artworks in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The innovative pieces are displayed in public spaces around Bankside, celebrating the neighbourhood’s character and creativity in the face of the pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, our public spaces need to be welcoming and inclusive,” explained Nicole Gordon, CEO of Better Bankside, the Business Improvement District (BID) for Bankside. “Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic so we are excited that this collaboration with Tate Collective was able to open up creative opportunities for young artists.”
‘Beyond Boundaries’ explores how we have coped with lockdown, the easing of restrictions and the opportunity to see people again in the UK. All the young artists selected are based in London and were paired with established mentors to guide them through the project.
Julia Vogl, one of the artist mentors, makes public art because she believes “it has the power to develop pride in local communities, to create a sense of safety and belonging, to bring people together physically and to add beauty to a place.” She said working in the project “has been so rewarding to connect with the artists, the other mentors and the Tate Collective team, while also championing the urgency and power of in-person connection through culture.”
The site-specific works have been created in a range of novel media. Inspired by shared stories, Hannah Hill’s work conveys her hope for a healthy work-life balance post pandemic through motifs such as a hand holding a scale. Koby Martin’s ‘Spotlight Dreams’ explores Bankside’s history of performance, theatre and music, using the Ghanaian symbol funtunfunefu denkyemfunefu (Siamese crocodile) to represent unity. Highlighting songs that touch on moments of sadness and joy, Zeinab Saleh harnessed music to bring together passersby. Through illustration Blk Moody Boi poses the question ‘what does it mean to be safe outside?’ to reflect the experience of certain communities that must consider their movement in a space. Megan Visser has created a playful meeting point where people can stop and eat to celebrate unity through food.
“Art in any form has the ability to heal, restore, uplift and drive the spirits of us humans in many ways. It is therapy,” remarked Martin. “My aim is to express that in my work and what better way to do this than to share my work with communities of people emerging from a pandemic … Having the gift to create is not about oneself, but a greater purpose to bring joy to others.”
Visitors can explore the artworks in Southwark Street, Gambia Street, St. Felix Place, Canvey Street and Great Suffolk Street for the next 12 months at least.