Initially awarded for three years (2010-2013) the British Council extended the award for a further year until November 2014. The objective of the project was to stimulate collaboration between UK and Bangladeshi artists and academics, and explore the differences and similarities in the educational challenges faced in these two very different contexts.
For the University of Dhaka Fine Art Faculty a key interest lay in exploring the potential for curriculum development in relation to the Slade’s experience in Fine Art Media, New Media and Interdisciplinary approaches. For the Slade with its very international student body this has been a key opportunity to further develop our global perspective in relation to contemporary art practice and theory, as well as discover and learn from the Bangladeshi context and traditions of making.
During its first three years there were a number of visits in each direction by faculty from both institutions which included lectures by Professor Susan Collins in Dhaka (2010 and 2012), Shishir Battarcharjee at the Slade (2011), an interdisciplinary workshop led by Dryden Goodwin in Dhaka in January 2011 and a Sculpture workshop led by John Aiken, Slade Professor in Dhaka the following month. Further visits included a painting workshop in Dhaka with Lisa Milroy in 2012 and a making workshop and Contemporary Art Lecture on Bangladeshi icon making by Professor Lala Rukh Selim and Nasima Haque Mitu at the Slade in Autumn 2012.
The first three years three years culminated in an exhibition, Inspired!, at Zainul Gallery, Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art in January 2013, a workshop for artists and lecturers across Bangladesh at Dhaka University which coincided with the opening of the exhibition, together with a publication documenting the three-year British Council INSPIRE strategic exchange project.
The extension of the project has allowed for two graduate students, Liton Paul and Md. Khairul Hasan from the University of Dhaka to spend a month as exchange students at the Slade (November 2013) and for Gary Stevens to lead a cross-faculty performance workshop in Dhaka in February 2014.
Other outcomes from the initiative include a presentation on the project in 2012 by Lala Rukh Selim and Susan Collins as part of the Allegories of Power symposium at Harewood House, Leeds; a Charles Wallace Foundation award for Joya Shahrin Huq to spend two months as artist- in-residence at the Slade in 2014, and a Boise Travel Scholarship 2014/15 for Imran Peretta (Slade MFA 2014) to research and produce a project in Bangladesh. He will be presenting his work at Dhaka University in January 2015.
Inspired! The book
The Inspired! book was published in January 2013 and documents the first three years of the exchange between the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of Dhaka, Faculty of Fine Art, Bangladesh.
For more information and updates about the project, see blogs.ucl.ac.uk/slade-dhaka-inspire.