During summer 2019, the South London Gallery hosted Sydney-based artist Keg de Souza for a five-week residency across the SLG Fire Station and neighbouring Pelican Estate, in a joint commission for its Open Plan and Evidence of Us programmes.
Convivial City included 11 making and mapping workshops with local children and their families using urban geography and active citizenship strategies to articulate their experiences of life on Pelican Estate through observation, touch, listening and movement. These culminated in a series of temporary sculptural interventions on the estate – a periscope, touch boxes, listening booths and demarcated desire lines – and a large-scale map illustrating the children’s local knowledge in the Fire Station Studio.
The project revealed the children’s deeply personal understandings of where they lived, including ways they moved around the estate, out-of-bounds areas, playground preferences, the prevalence of noise pollution from passing planes and cars, and nuanced linguistic differences between children living on Pelican and other parts of Peckham. Drawing inspiration from colour theory and the ‘Reggio Emilia’ early years pedagogical approach, Convivial City supported child-led learning, and encouraged children to articulate their daily experiences, perceptions and perspectives using a multitude of physical, playful and creative languages.
Keg De Souza: Convivial City was on display in the Studio, SLG Fire Station until Sunday 8 September 2019.
Supported by Freelands Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Open Plan is a long term public art and education project which invites international and British artists to create artworks with and for the SLG’s close neighbours on Elmington, Pelican and Sceaux Gardens housing estates, along with a programme of events at the gallery.
Evidence of Us is a programme of long-term locally-embedded projects, working with communities typically excluded from heritage and archival practice. It positions people as experts in their own heritage by giving a platform to local knowledge and otherwise under-explored histories, experiences and perspectives.