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Community-led commissions

In the House of my Love is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the gifts brought to light and shared by communities across Brent, through a collaborative commissioning process with three organisations that have been identified as part of the Brent Biennial 2022 project. The work of these organisations and community groups facilitates invaluable experiences of homemaking and belonging in the borough. They provide lifelines of support which often extend beyond the communities who built them, or for whom they were originally built, intersecting with other people and other struggles in wider efforts of responding to hostile or unwelcoming environments. 

Most of the community-led commissions will extend beyond the Brent Biennial dates and be realised in the long-term life of Metroland Cultures. The projects are being developed and chosen in consultation with communities in the borough through a series of artist-facilitated workshops, to identify the desires of these community groups and their constituents, the possibilities that can be brought forward when working with artists and the offerings that may be realised in the context of the Biennial and beyond.

Community-led participants from Asian Women’s Resource Centre.
Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust
Ed Webb Ingall x MOSAIC LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust, Growing up Brent, Installation view, The Library at Willesden Green, Brent Biennial 2022. Image by Thierry Bal.

Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust is London’s biggest LGBT+ youth charity, serving the community through the delivery of outstanding services and events. Mosaic Trust runs Pride Prom and Homoween, as well as offering a youth club, mentoring and counselling, making sure to support LGBT+ young people holistically. It’s their mission to support, educate and inspire in order to build a proud, strong, cohesive LGBT+ community that is healthy, safe and thriving.

Artist Ed Webb-Ingall was selected to work closely with Mosaic to develop a new commission that would consider the history and legacy of the LGBTQIA+ youth service in Brent, and to open up wider questions about queer history, visibility and the politics of coming out in North West London. Webb-Ingall worked closely with Mosaic’s past and present staff as well as young people to produce a radio play and installation at The Library at Willesden Green, which is available to be experienced during the Brent Biennial.

Asian Women’s Resource Centre
Amanda Camenish and Terese Wein, Making the Room Sing, Installation view, Metroland Cultures, 2022. Image by Thierry Bal.

The Asian Women’s Resource Centre is a grassroots charity specialising in delivering services for black and minority ethnic women experiencing domestic abuse. Established in 1980, they offer culturally sensitive practical and emotional support in 16 languages, including information on housing, legal advice, access to counselling and advocacy.

After a series of facilitated workshops with a group of women from AWRC’s community and its staff led by artist and facilitator A’lshah Waheed, AWRC selected artists Amanda Camenish and Terese Wein for the development of a new commission. Making the Room Sing is a collaborative project that aims to generate a space for collective celebration and creative storytelling through weaving, movement, music and sound. Honouring the already existing safe space that AWRC has created for women, the artists and participants will co-create a series of artworks that will contribute to making AWRC’s newly-refurbished building a warm and welcoming home to relax and feel inspired by the stories of resistance that are central to AWRC’s 40 year-history.

Sufra NW London

Sufra NW London is a Brent-based charity established in 2013 to address both the causes and consequences of impoverishment in the community. Based on St. Raphael’s Estate, Brent’s most disadvantaged neighbourhood, their Community Hub provides a lifeline for people in crisis—including families living in extreme poverty and people who are vulnerable, homeless and socially isolated.

Over 2022, members of Sufra’s St Raphael’s Edible Garden staff, alongside volunteers and residents from St Raphael’s State, have been meeting for a series of workshops facilitated by Eliel Jones and A’lshah Waheed. Focusing on what community means in relation to public space, food and nature, the sessions have focused on developing a brief for a permanent sculpture commission that will take place at the local Edible Garden. A day-long festival took take place in St Raph’s as part of the public programme of the Biennial.

In February 2023, artist Sean Roy Parker (Roy) was selected by the staff and community of Sufra to deliver the last Community-led Commission from the Brent Biennial 2022. Roy’s proposal centres around building a Bioregion Activity Centre (BAC): a glasshouse made of reclaimed windows and discarded wood to be situated on the plot. The glasshouse will have hold many second-hand tools such as binoculars, flower presses and contact microphones, for visitors to use as they explore their relationships with the nonhuman life in the garden – including resident birds, wild plants and microbes in the compost – in slow, curious ways.

Artist Sean Roy Parker.

Roy hopes the BAC can help the community to ask the following questions:

“What happens when we start actively noticing the other lifeforms that we share space with? How does connecting with our nonhuman neighbours affect our senses of place and self? Who speaks when we are silent? Who lives happily under our feet? Can we look up when we feel down? How do plants express feelings? How does waste become compost?”