Communal Knowledge is a programme of collaborative projects where artists and designers are invited to work with community groups, organisations, schools and individuals from The Showroom’s neighbourhood.
Set up in 2010 and led by Louise Shelley our Collaborative Projects Curator, Communal Knowledge has responded to numerous local, social and political shifts. Through conversations around shared interests and concerns, projects aim to generate playful and experimental avenues for critical reflection on issues at stake locally.
The Church Street area, NW8, is bordered by the Edgware Road, Regent's Canal, Lisson Grove and the Westway, and is known for its distinctive and diverse communities from across the Middle East and Africa. Culturally and community rich, the neighbourhood also has the fourth lowest median household income of all the wards in London and 50 per cent of children live below the poverty line.
Much of the emphasis is on finding ways to re-think or ‘unlearn’ established norms, values, codes, roles and relations, to create visibility, and to produce an alternative body of knowledge gained through communal activity and experience. Projects can take the form of commissions which develop through a year-long series of workshops and research, culminating in a presentation or event in the gallery space; or they can function as long-term collaborations, some of which are off-site, embedded within the local community.
Our approach is unique in the way in which we build strong relationships through projects developed over the long-term, and in how we regard each and every person involved in them as a collaborator. Trust and a conscious awareness of process and the impact a project can have beyond its existence, are key to our way of working. Some groups and individuals are now starting to get involved in projects within our broader programme, or in some cases are taking on a more proactive role within artistic productions.
Communal Knowledge Summer Programme 2017
Over the summer months the many artists, researchers, school students, educators, neighbours, community activists and local groups that make up The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme have occupied the gallery for workshops, meetings and events to continue their collaborative work.
Images from some of the events and workshops include Fiona Jack's Using our hands or Organise, whose week long period of workshops culminated in an open studio event; the Penfold Street Fete; and medicinal garden workshops with Jeanne-Lyse Sibaud.
For more information or to get involved please contact Louise Shelley or phone 020 7724 4300.
Local groups and organisations
Church Street Neighbourhood Management
City of Westminster College
Independent Workers of Great Britain
Justice for Domestic Workers
King Solomon Academy
Marylebone Bangladesh Society
Penfold Community Hub at 60 Penfold Street
Portman Early Childhood Centre
Pursuing Independent Pathways [PIP]
Quintin Kynaston School
The Cockpit Theatre
The Migrants Resource Centre
The Prince's Trust
The Seymour Homeless Art Collective
Westminster Adult Education services
Communal Knowledge is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s Charity, John Lyon’s Charity, and Garfield Weston Foundation.