The project looks at the development of green spaces in the urban environment, linking projects like New Ferry Butterfly Park with similar initiatives. The infamous Favelas in Brazil are synonymous with poor living conditions. In the last 10 years there have been projects dedicated to developing green spaces, providing safe places for children to play and encouraging communities to come together and improve their living conditions.
I have had the most amazing weekend, I really love working on community projects. Usually I am working alone in my studio with my own thought and my own direction this is when I am at my happiest I must admit but working on a community project is so different and so rewarding in many different ways. The initial idea is taken in so many different directions and the individual members of the community who have come into work with me have brought their own ideas and creative input that has taken the project way beyond what I expected.
I have spoken to so many people both young and old over the last couple of days about the Green Spaces projects in Brazil and about similar initiatives in the New Ferry area. As we have been making the favelas I have been getting to know lots of new people and talking about their lives, everyone has a story to tell. Yesterday I had a mum and her 3 children from Poland teaching me Polish and today I met a lady from South Wales who already has 3 grown up children but has just had twins boys.
Looking forward to next week who knows who I will meet and where the favela building will go next?
I have been working in the Comma Project space on my art piece today. In true favela tradition I have been using everything and anything to hand to create the make shift housing. Had a particularly tough time working out how to make pegs for the washing lines but managed in the end using match sticks and a sharp knife. I was asked today by one of the Butterfly park volunteers what my working method/plan was? My answer was, I really don’t have one! I deliberately did not plan out the favelas and have not used a ruler or straight edges for cutting, I have just gone with the flow! Favelas are constructed by their inhabitants out of any materials they can find and built using whatever methods or experience they have, many have no skills what so ever and just make do and mend to the best of their abilities. With this in mind I have been just working away and adding parts and building the boxes up to best fit the space I am working in.
I made a little pair of underpants today in homage to Ian Broadley the artist in resident before me who proudly presented an XXL pair of blue Y fronts on the first day of his residency so I have carried on the tradition.
There have been lots of people coming in from the New Ferry community to ask questions and look at what I have been doing. I have received lots of positive comments and many people have really taken on board the idea of the favelas and how the development of green spaces is important in both communities. One gentleman told us that he had lived in Uruguay and seen the favelas for himself, he told me that the streets were so narrow that it was hard to get through them and that because they were built on the side of a mountain they were incredibly steep he said he was glad he wasn’t living there now as he was too old to walk up streets that steep.
Finally on my way home tonight I bumped into a friend, apparently the images of the favelas are being well received on Facebook, he was really enthusiastic when I told him that he was more than welcome to come and build some more, looks like I’ll have lots of help over the weekend . It’s so exciting and gratifying to know that people are enjoying a project you are working on and want to get involved.
Since starting this project many people have asked me, what are favelas? So here is a little background information…
Favelas are the stacked houses built originally in Brazil but now can be found throughout the developing world. Synonymous with poverty and poor living conditions the people who live in these areas are often poorly educated, their main source of income comes from working in the service industry or cleaning the homes and looking after the children of Brazils rich, an awkward juxtaposition of the haves and have nots and a situation that many Brazilians are not proud of.
Favelas exist all over South America but are most famously found and originated in Rio. They consist of structures and buildings erected by the individuals living there on public land, the national parkland area or similar available space. The law in Brazil states that if a structure is permanent (ie built from brick or concrete) and someone lives there for 5 years unchallenged then the land becomes theirs and they don´t have to take their building down. This law has seen the development of these make shift living areas, patched together from whatever building materials the inhabitants can afford or find. Many poor unskilled migrant workers moving to the city from the countryside have developed amazing skills, many if not all favelas today have electricity and water supplies this was not always the case. When researching for this project I found some amazing images and read articles on how proud the people who lived in these areas are of their homes. Sadly however these areas are not without high crime and adult mortality rates plus serious problems with poor health and drug addiction. There are many projects that have been set up to improve living conditions, one of these initiatives has included the involvement of street artists who have added their unique designs to the facades of these buildings, it is such a simple ideas but has made a striking difference, check out some of the work that is being done on this page http://www.facebook.com/favelapainting
Even though I’m not at the residency space today I have been thinking continuously about what I can do next and what I want to work on… Haven’t felt this motivated in months its so good to have a focus.
Bought a significant amount of glue sticks and treated myself to a new glue gun today, oh the excitement, simple pleasures !
I started my residency at The Comma Space yesterday Saturday 21st July 2012. All my friends and family have been collecting cardboard boxes over the last 6 months for this project, I think they are relieved that I have finally moved them all to the Comma project space. It is amazing how many boxes and bits of cardboard they have collected, it just shows how much we throw away each day!
My residency project is an installation piece based on Brazilian favelas. I have been interested in the projects undertaken in the favelas over the last few years that have brought artists and practitioners into these deprived areas to develop green spaces and improve the general living conditions for the inhabitants. Street artists have created some spectacular work that has completely changed the facades of many of these make shift buildings. The development of green spaces in these areas have provided safe places for children to play and people have started planting their own fruit and vegetables. By taking control of their own environment they have improved the standard of living and brought their communities closer together.
Initiatives such as the New Ferry Butterfly Park works on similar principles, encouraging the development of a safe area for children to play and bringing the local community together to better understand and protect the local wildlife and green spaces.
My plan for my four week residency is to build favelas out of recycled cardboard and encourage the local community to interact and take part in the project whilst highlighting the work that goes on in Brazil and in their own local community.
So far I have had both of my sons Simon and Matty helping build favelas they are looking good but I will have to think about how to start putting them all together as favelas are often stacked up the side of mountains and I want to create this same effect.
I have had a great weekend and have met some great people, lots of children have been in making butterflies and lots of new people now know where the Butterfly park is.
I am not back there now until Wednesday as studio work needs to be done but looking forward to the next time and really getting stuck in to creating and building my favela sculpture.