What’s happening down at your local library? If you’re in Central Bedfordshire it might not be what you expect.
How can our library of the future thrive? That’s the question eights artists are asking as part of Library as Laboratory, a two year project commissioned by Central Bedfordshire Council through the Arts Council England libraries initiative.
Working across Central Bedfordshire, the artists are working with local residents to explore ideas around the library of the future, asking what is a library for and how can it evolve and respond more to its community’s needs?
The artists have developed three commission themes looking at the role of libraries as custodians of local history; the idea of ‘Business not as usual’ in your local library, and making and doing in your library.
Dump it on Parliament Revisited
This project explores the alternative local history of the 80’s post-punk scene in Bedfordshire, to create a new living history artwork. Artists Dash MacDonald, Demitrios Kargotis and Roshi Nasehi were inspired by the story of the local post-punk bands who were galvanized into action against the government’s plans to create a new nuclear waste site at Elstow, Bedfordshire in the 1980’s. The bands protested by creating the well-known ‘Dump it on Parliament’ compilation tape in support of the B.A.N.D (Bedfordshire Against Nuclear Disarmament) campaign.
Taking this spirit of protest and ownership within the local community, the artists wanted to create a new conversation between the original bands and fans from the 1980’s and young people of today in Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis.
Working with local bands and young people, plus Steve Spon of band UK Decay, the artists have created a brand new compilation, with the local bands covering the original material and writing new protest songs. Recorded live at a performance at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre in November 2015, it will culminate in the introduction of a new sound archive for the library service.
Future Library Festivals
Artists Ania Bas, David Littler and Rosalie Schweiker came together to explore the idea of ‘business NOT as usual’ in local libraries. They wanted to understand how libraries, one of our last remaining free social spaces, could be a place of possibility for everyone, a place beyond books and inclusive for all.
They developed two festivals, one in Flitwick and one in Biggleswade in Autumn 2015, where they introduced a wide range of surprising and unexpected activities, including a Friday comedy night and cocktail caravan, a skateboard film night curated by Flitwick skaters, musical bingo, yoga and a mobile bike library. The festivals proved hugely popular.
Make and Do
The last theme is about transforming the library into a space for making and doing, not just reading.
Artist Chris Dobrowolski is creating a new event for Dunstable Library, the Selfie Slot Car Championship. During the February 2016 half-term the library will become a model-making den where you can create your own model replica of your family car, and then race it at the main Self Slot Car Championship event on Saturday, 5 March 2016.
Artist Gerry Pilgrim is inviting women of all ages to join her in a performance of her work Handbag at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre on 15 April 2016.
“In an empty theatre a caretaker sweeps away the remnants of a previous event. A woman enters and puts down her handbag. A beat begins, a mirror ball turns and the sound of a classic dance track fills the air…”
If you live in or near Leighton Buzzard and would like to take part, get in touch by emailing Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get involved and visit your local library.
If you were in Leighton Buzzard Library, Dunstable Library or Flitwick Library in October you may have heard about or taken part in the Human Library project, which kicked off the Library as Laboratory commission. More . . .
Meet the Artists
Roshi is a composer, singer and sound artist who creates new works with people using sound, singing and the power of language and memory. Recent projects include Kuwaitscapes, a large sound commission about Kuwait’s traditional boat history, created with Kuwaiti families and then installed within a central Kuwait shopping mall. Roshi, who grew up in Wales to Iranian parents, is based in London.
David is an artist and DJ based in Knaresborough who brings his passions for textiles and sound together in his work. He is known for Sampler Culture Clash, an ongoing exploration of embroidery and song. His recent project Yan Tethera, with The English Folk Dance and Song Society celebrated the making of textiles and textile related folk songs through making textiles, creating new songs and singing events.
Dash and Dem
Demitrios and Dash work together as DashnDem. Their work is about exploring new ideas and creating dialogues with the general public in their own environments. Using film, TV, radio theatre and other popular media the artists have created a talent TV show in Finland Show your Sisu and worked with young people to expose the methods of politicians in Imagine Being a World Leader for Dundee Contemporary Arts. Demitrios is based in Birmingham and Dash is based in Leighton Buzzard.
Based in Colchester, Chris is a maker and story teller known for his homemade vehicles that actually work, including a hovercraft and an aeroplane. He has been a visiting artist on the British Antarctic Survey’s programme and his recent work All Roads Lead to Rome, is a personal exploration about driving to Italy in his family’s 1960’s Triumph Herald to re-trace his father’s footsteps during WWII.
Ania creates situations that support dialogue and exchange and question existing frameworks of participation. She is interested in the ways that narratives shape understanding, mythology and knowledge of places and people. Ania’s work is presented through text, events, walks, performances, useful object and publications.
Gerry is known for her evocative and magical performances and installations in surprising locations and buildings. In one work, Handbag, the artist invites women of all ages to dance around their handbags to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Performed in a variety of unusual spaces it was part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Earlier this year she installed an inscribed stone trail entitled Beauty in the Forest of Bowland for the AONB 50th Anniversary.
Rosalie is a conceptual artist who uses social exchanges such as conversations, economic transactions and jokes to find new functions for art in society. Inherent in the work is a playful humour that makes knowable the unwritten rules by which social systems operate. Since Rosalie’s focus is on the communicative effects of art, most of her work leaves hardly any material trace.