UCL East


UCL East and UAL's London College of Fashion welcome East Bank SEEDED artists in residence

13 March 2023

Four artists have begun a five-month residency at our new UCL East campus and UAL's London College of Fashion to investigating themes around social practice, activism, collective memory, urbanisation and community engagement.

Four intertwined brightly coloured cartoon figures, supporting each other on a yellow background

Creative practitioners from across east London were invited to apply to SEEDED, a new residency programme from East Bank partners (UCL, UAL's London College of Fashion, BBC, Sadler’s Wells and the V&A). The initiative invites applications from creative practitioners, small-scale creative organisations and collectives from across east London who are interested in investigating themes around social practice, activism, collective memory, urbanisation and community engagement to work with their host organisation to experiment and develop new practices, while pushing conventional boundaries of engaged, creative research.

Two East Bank partner organisations are taking part in this first year of SEEDED, which is funded through Foundation for Future London. However, there are ambitions for the programme to develop in the future allowing applicants to collaborate with more partners in future years.

On the UCL East campus, Mercedes Baptiste Halliday and Naajia Ahmed will be working in the Urban Room, a practice-based, multi-purpose space at the heart of UCL's new campus dedicated to debate and engagement around key questions of future living and urbanism.

Kara Blackmore, Curator of the UCL Urban Room and mentor for the UCL artists in residence said:
“Working with artists in residence across the East Bank partnership is a unique opportunity for us to shape the Urban Room in it’s first year of opening at UCL East. We are excited to share the journey of creation with Mercedes and Naajia over the next 5 months. I want this to be a brave space where we can try and fail, hold space for difficult issues, and make time for socially engaged artistic practice.” 

Anna Millhouse, Head of Cultural Partnerships for London College of Fashion, UAL, said:
“We are so pleased that these fantastic creative practitioners are a part of the pilot season of the SEEDED Residency Programme, with Noemi Gunea and Toyin Gbomedo collaborating with our staff, students and networks at London College of Fashion specifically. All have been selected from a multitude of inspiring submissions and their programmes of work will see them connect with and amplify the voices of their chosen east London communities to explore themes of fair pay, fashion industry working conditions, ethics, culture, style and sustainability.

"Supported by London College of Fashion’s research community and Centre for Social Impact, with funding from Foundation for Future London, these new SEEDED residencies are the vanguard of East Bank’s collaborative creative engagement in east London.”

Naajia Ahmed

Naajia Ahmed (UCL)
A creative curator/historian with experience designing, developing, and delivering innovative, high-quality and inclusive exhibitions and creative projects. Naajia’s practice offers an empathic and inclusive approach to create spaces that highlight under-represented voices with dignity to conserve and protect stories that are at risk of being lost. 

Naajia’s academic background in History has led to exhibitions and writing for the V&A, National Maritime Museum, House of Lords and East London Dance. All her projects champion marginalised voices and the threats that jeopardise their stories being told. Naajia is currently establishing a collective named ‘The New Cartographers’ which aims to create a truly accessibly database that digitally maps intangible cultural heritage for a wide range of audiences. This work will be done through academic research, documentary and exhibitions.

During the residency, Naajia will explore stories of joy in the Somali communities of east London. Those told in circles of women, whose voices are not often heard, to understand the role traditional practices play in our sense of belonging and place making - all through the lens of Somali literary traditions. Naajia will pilot a project that uses old rotary phones that act as both recording and listening devices that will play old Somali poetry and oral history as a means for younger Somali audiences to engage with the practice and mimic the practice of ‘calling back home’ to hear to the news of families and life in Somalia and life in London. 

Mercedes Baptiste Halliday

Mercedes Baptiste Halliday (UCL)
Mercedes is an artist, public archaeologist and founder of Black Archaeo, an organisation promoting the engagement of Black communities with archaeology and ecology. She has previously worked with the Museum of London, the Horniman Museum, Studio Voltaire, Maslaha, London Wildlife Trust, and the British Fencing Association, where she is a professional coach, specialising in community engagement and development.

She studied Archaeology and Anthropology at UCL, gaining a First Class BA, and was also awarded the college’s Margaret Murray dissertation prize for Egyptian Archaeology. Mercedes is currently completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Filmmaking at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), and will shortly be studying for an MPhil in Archaeology at Clare College, Cambridge.

Mercedes will work with Black and people of colour in east London, communities that are underrepresented in the cultural and heritage sector. With such a fast acceleration of change over the last 15 years, the landscape of east London has changed dramatically, bringing both urban regeneration and gentrification. Mercedes hopes to inspire those interested in exploring the recent and deep histories of the area, and to involve them in the making of new oral histories and artwork about the locale.

Noemi Gunea (LCF)
A migrant artist working across disciplines through writing, live art, dance and film, working collaboratively with Dana Olarescu, a socially engaged, environmentalist artist. Noemi and Dana share an interest in sustainable fashion, and an eye for making socially engaged work visually enticing. Their action/research project will engage members of the Eastern European community through workshops on sustainable styling, drawing from their own intergenerational experiences and inspired by Eastern European women dressing well with minimal resources, using natural fibres, reusing and repurposing clothes through scarcity of alternatives. During the residency, Noemie and Dana plan to dedicate quality time to the community, and to the artistic documentation of the process through development of a zine, and see potential for upscaling to a curated programme of interviews, talks and live events highlighting Eastern European fashion resilience.

Toyin Gbomedo (LCF)
A Community Organiser and film-maker with a background in performing arts, working for a charity called Citizens UK on Social Justice Campaigns. Toyin currently works with communities and schools in east London, using her skills in creative arts as a medium to support communities to take action. She has been working with groups in Newham on the Living Wage campaign, with people from a variety of backgrounds who are affected by unfair pay. Toyin proposed developing and delivering a series of listening workshops, to be facilitated with leaders in the community, to select three stories to create a documentary film, exploring unethical practices within the fashion industry, especially for migrants and refugees in east London.