The Art House provides time, space and support for artists and associates to develop their critical practice and professional careers. Everyone is welcome to experience contemporary visual art and learn about the practice of being an artist through a year-round programme of exhibitions and events. The Art House is a visual arts development agency and registered charity established in 1994 in response to the lack of facilities for disabled visual artists. Alongside an accessible programme of training, mentoring, residencies and commissions, The Art House develops collaborative platforms promoting equality and diversity, driving new research and contributing to an essential discourse around the Creative Case for Diversity in contemporary visual arts practice.
As part of the 2018 Who Are We? programme at Tate Exchange, we presented the case studies of some of the artists in The Art House community – those with experiences of being a refugee, those without, and how they collaborate and exist in a space of production that is at once individual and shared. We hope to demonstrate our experience as an example of an arts organisation navigating the current reality of immigration in Britain. Our remit is to support artists; what we explore here is how we can do this when the artists in question are in the precarious and difficult situation of being a refugee or asylum seeker.
Through an installation which recreated the shared spaces of The Art House, we aimed to share the development of our involvement with refugee artists and showcased the wonderful work that had been created as a result of our space and programmes.
Visitors were joined by illustrator and printmaker Mohammad Barrangi Fashtani in the creation of a collaborative mural and learned his process of combining Persian calligraphy, collage, and print. We also presented the collaborative tailoring of studio holders Hamid Reza Yavari Shoer and Helen O’Sullivan and the offered the opportunity for visitors to contribute their thoughts to our future plans. City of Sanctuary was also there, sharing what they do and how individuals and communities can be a counterpoint to the hostile environment.