We've been a given a long-empty post office on the Aberfeldy Estate in the East End, on a high street where most shop units are shuttered up. Ours is in state of disrepair but has such great potential, with a large front room with display windows, room for a separate kitchen, a garage for storage and a dedicated parking space that we can transform into an outdoor Making Space.
Planned commissions worth a combined £31,000 have all been cancelled or postponed indefinately, we don't see being able to fully operate until late summer 2021, so want to use the next six months to test and prepare our participatory programme of creative making.
Local residents are 70% Muslim, mainly Bangladeshi and with sizeable Pakistani and Somalian communities, also with many Vietnamese refugees settling here in the 1970s. This project aims to to bridge the longstanding population between these groups and the incoming international professionals now moving into the large new expanding Oxbow development.
What we'll deliver:
- A large collaborative glass chandeIier for the community to enjoy
- New, Covid-secured outdoor and indoor Making Spaces
- OpportunIties to aquIre new design and making skills
Why it's a great idea:
Creative making will facilitate cultural understanding and social cohesion across a very wide demographic, giving people ' a place to be' to share their thoughts and issues, with applied arts and culinary practice offering opportunities to learn new skills. Most local residents have no personal outside space, so by creating a multi-use outdoor Making Space we can encourage wellbeing through physical activities including glassmaking and ceramics, where participants can design and create crockery and drinking glasses for their own exclusive use, greatly lessening the risk of Covid transmission.
Our kitchen will give people a chance to prepare and share food from their cultural heritage, promoting appreciation and curiosity. The construction of an upcycled 'chandelier' will involve people of all ages, guided by professional glassmakers, to choose a personal design that will become part of a much larger pice to be exhibited in our display windows, as a symbol of collaborative learning.
Steps to get it done:
- Collating raw/recycable materials while promoting upcycling ideas
- Demonstrating glassblowing, to recruit participants
- Conducting fused glass workshops in safely distanced groups, indoors
- Firing of elements, involving participants in assembly and lighting
- Open invitation launch events for participants, their families and any interested parties
- Expanding usable outdoor areas through a design and build project with young people
- Securing work experience, apprenticeships and employment for young people with local developers
- Securing more 'meanwhile spaces' locally to encourage more creative practice in the neighbourhood
The Thames Plate Glassworks was by far the largest local employer in the 19th Century, history now lost to many residents, so we want to reinvigorate civic pride by unearthing this heritage. We have an academic on board who has made significant archaeological discoveries locally, on the nearby site of the glassworks on the River Lea.
The famous Blue Anchor pottery a little further up the River Lea, provided highest quality porcelain for export across the world, so this links to incorporating ceramics whether found or created, into our glassmaking/kiln firing workshops and further engender local civic pride rediscovered through lost heritage.
While we wish to save our Making Space at 48 Aberfeldy Street, we are hoping that our own increased footfall will also benefit The Tommy Flowers Community Pub next door at No.50, so we will ensure that our operational/workshop/exhibition opening times co-incide with those of the pub, to increase their trade while pub customers also visit us.