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Creative communities: UCL engagement activities in East London

East London communities have been exploring and expressing their creativity at a range of events supported by UCL’s Public Engagement Unit.

30 October 2018

At Textile 100, a workshop held in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to mark the centenary of Women’s Suffrage in the UK, local people were invited to embroider designs on handkerchiefs.

This activity was popular among Suffragette prisoners incarcerated in London’s Holloway prison during the 1880s. Political messages were often embroidered on the handkerchiefs, which became an expression of civil disobedience for activists.

Participants at the workshop, a collaborative project organised by UCL, the V&A and London College of Fashion, were invited to create designs that captured the essence of the 19th century.

Sharon Brooks, Event Manager at UCL Culture, explained: "For many, the textile tasks took them back to their childhood days of arts, crafts and sharing ideas in a fun and engaging environment with their peers. They were inspired by historical and contemporary issues that were presented and highlighted throughout the day through embroidery, talks and poetry."

The day-long Open Doors: Vote 100 festival featured dance, music and poetry, displays, debates, workshops and screenings, and was open to all ages.

Highlights included excerpts from Suffraggedon, an in-production hip-hop feminist musical written by Guilty Feminist contributors, an exhibition showing the works of 20 artists inspired by an image embroidered by incarcerated suffragettes in 1912, and dance performances and workshops from Company Wayne Macgregor and Myself UK Company.

Plastics waste, sustainability and female activism were the themes of a public workshop staged by UCL with the Bow Arts Trust. The Humans Make Plastics event, led and designed by London artist Camilla Brendon, used plastics waste – much of it sourced from the nearby River Lea – to design and build a collaborative sculpture. This acted as a means of stimulating discussion on research being undertaken into plastics at UCL.

Local artist Emilie Giles organised a kaleidoscope-making activity for families in order to inspire conversations about research into light being conducted by the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Staged at the Great Get Together event in the Olympic Park, an estimated 450 children and parents took part in the activity, using coloured beads and materials to diffract light. 

Find out more about public engagement activities at UCL on the UCL Culture website.


Read more about how UCL is engaging London or browse all case studies.