Culture Online


Why East London?

About the exhibition from curator Rosie Murdoch

The Trellis Festival 2021 invites visitors to consider communication and the nature of collaboration in artworks presented here which have been developed over a year-long collaboration with east London communities.

Trellis Festival is the celebration of a programme of knowledge exchange and is part of the wider vision for UCL Public Art and Community Engagement to create opportunities for collaboration between artists, researchers and communities based around the future UCL East campus. Building on UCL’s progressive history, positive impact and disruptive spirit, UCL East aims to bring together academics, students, and local communities to solve the biggest challenges affecting people’s lives.

Trellis Festival uses research themes from UCL as a point of departure: Psychology and Human Development, Biochemical Engineering, Architecture, Design, Bio materiality, Interdisciplinary History and Deafness Cognition and Language research. Referring to intellectual enquiry - the artists have responded to their research partners and together they have built an understanding of each other - the exhibition presents artworks in digital and public spaces across east London, in sites associated with the research areas. By borrowing from, or lending to, existing community activities, artists have raised questions in this exhibition around our common need to understand each other: encouraging viewers to question the nature of conversation. 

Though explored with communities in east London, the exhibition’s theme is universal, prompting us to consider the relation between stories and material realities everywhere in the world. Everyone becomes aware at some point of the gap between our lived experience and what the intellectual truth is. Sometimes this gap is so extreme that we divert from our intended path – and in Trellis Festival 2021 we see projects that were conceived in one form, realised in quite another – the beautiful reality of co-design.

The title Trellis suggests multiple meanings. Conceptually, the trellis supports growth and support of organic structures between the community “lived-experience” and researchers who deal perhaps more in “scientifically” verifiable positions. By observing the gap between personally verified experience and what is otherwise felt, the exhibition urges viewers to consider the nature of communication.  What you will see is mediated in the artwork of these extraordinary multi-disciplinary teams.

There is inevitably a gap between concept and execution.  Where we are giving voice to underrepresented viewpoints it may cause surprise or criticism but this is this same gap that enables art to open minds, and so also change our own experience of the world. The artist’s imagination allows us to look at our neighbourhoods, to imagine how it could be, and realise that it does not have to be the way it is. Fantastic art, like conversations, can lead us to work together to change our surroundings.

Artists selected for Trellis Festival 2021 are:

  • Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq
  • Briony Campbell & Jon Adams
  • Sarah Carne
  • Sara Heywood & Jane Watt
  • Edwin Mingard.