Manchester Art Gallery and Chinese Arts Centre have collaborated on coordinating a series of trail-based workshops with local South Asian women’s group, the NEESA Well Womens Project, linking to the initial ATM11 theme of ‘time and generation’. The workshops were based the principles of exchanging and passing on creative ideas and skills between artists and local community groups. The workshop programme was divided into three phases, leading up to a display of all the work produced in an exhibition at Chinese Arts Centre and Film Screening at Manchester Art Gallery for the duration of the ATM11 festival period.
The first phase took place over June-July 2010, with Chinese Arts Centre’s artist in residence Eastman Cheng, leading the workshops. Eastman Cheng is a contemporary artist based in Hong Kong who wanted to explore ideas of home and identity through textiles and sowing skills with the NEESA group. This gave both the artist and the group the opportunity to showcase their own sowing skills, whilst also allowing them the freedom to create experimental and enjoyable soft sculptures. All the individual works created were collected together by Eastman who then sowed the sections together to create a number of installation pieces.
Two more phases of workshops continued over the course of 2010/11, working with two British based artists. Local artist Teresa Wilson developed a series of puppet works with the women based on characters and key figures within the women’s lives and culture. The third phase workshops developing a film project, led by Taiwanese Chien-Ni Hung. The women worked with the artist to devise and create the sets, plots and action for the film, which focused on what the women considered the most important day of their lives; their wedding ceremony.
All the work created as part of these workshops will form the content of an exhibition at Chinese Arts Centre and a film screening at Manchester Art Gallery. Both galleries will be bringing Eastman back into the project at this point to work with the women to curate all three elements of the work in an exhibition here at Chinese Arts Centre.
There will also be a special gallery visit and film screening for the all the members of the NEESA well women’s project during the festival period where all the workshop artists and volunteers will be invited to join in the celebratory event with NEESA.