Sharing intangible heritage - a virtual residency, part of a ‘Create Syria’ project
As part of the project, Syrian artists worked with mentors from Arts University Plymouth and participated in a live virtual event on Friday 9 June at The Box in Plymouth called ‘Art, Community and the Future(s) of Intangible Cultural Heritage’. GROW’s role has been to host virtual artist-in-residents between June and August 2023 for two Syrian artists, providing online space and opportunities to interact, share knowledge and engage in a cultural exchange with artists from GROW Plymouth.
Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World is an international research, development and cultural exchange focused on the role(s) of socially engaged art in an age of displacement. It includes a programme of mentorships, residencies, public dialogues, commissions, and other peer-to-peer learning for Syrian and Arab artists working across all art forms in the SWANA region, Europe and the UK.
GROW Plymouth is an independent ecosystem of studios and event space, based in the cultural quarter of Plymouth.
GROW Plymouth is made up of 11 studios which are creative home to painters, audio artists, printmakers, installation and socially engaged artists. The ground floor is a space to experiment with the aim to create a space which explores its surroundings and heritage whilst looking to the future in terms of sustainability, inclusion, food and drink, grassroots arts, music and culture.
GROW is inspired by creating a space which fits into its surroundings; celebrates heritage and looks to the future in terms of sustainability, inclusion, food and drink, grassroots arts, music and culture. Shaped by their experience of running GROW, Hackney (cultural hub and experiment in ethical and sustainability business) they have returned to roots in Plymouth.
The artists-in-residents are Abeer Sanyour and Yara Amayri and over the course of 3 months, they met online with GROW artists, Chloe Georgakis, Nicole Gilbert and Jordanna Greaves, to discuss their practice, past, current, and potential projects and life in their respective geographical areas.
Discussion also turned to holding an in-vivo event at GROW (see below) in which the Plymouth-based artists will assist the Syrian-based artists in their inquiries into the projects being developed by the artists as part of their involvement in ‘Beyond the Now’.
Abeer Sanyour’s project is called ‘Public Baths’ and is documenting the oral history of daily life in Syria, before and after the war, in a series of videos exploring encounters inside Syrian public baths, called Hammams.
Yara Amayri’s project is called ‘Urban Tableaux’ which has a focus on music and artistic performance, exploring reviving the concept of the festival and the social implications of seasonal celebrations.
This residency and event is also part of an ongoing series at GROW called #DIYRESIDENCIES. As the space is in its very early stages, there is much scope for our artistic partners to shape thinking and plans as we experiment and explore the building, its surroundings, heritage and looks to the future in terms of sustainability, inclusion, food and drink, grassroots arts, music and culture.
Friday 11 August, 1pm - 6pm, free and open to all.
On Friday 11 of August, the Plymouth based artists will host an afternoon of activity to represent the Syrian artists and their projects on the ground floor of GROW. Drop in anytime between 1-6pm for an interactive taster of the work and research projects of Yara and Abeer. Help us explore the intangible heritage of Syria and what that might mean to those in Plymouth. Please note: Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
The outcome of the activity will be displayed on the windows on Saturday 12 - Monday 14 August 2023.
Yara’s journey with the arts began through music, where she had the opportunity to participate in various festivals and concerts in and around Damascus, and work with children as a music tutor. After graduating from the Faculty of Architecture, she worked in the Consulting Center for Construction and Restoration of Heritage Buildings, supervising the restoration work in Khan Suleiman Pasha, and working on the rehabilitation of commercial buildings in Old Damascus. She volunteers as a teacher of architectural design for the first and second-year students in the Faculty of Architecture at Damascus University, where she has lectured on the history of Syrian art, and is pursuing her Masters in the restoration and rehabilitation of archaeological sites.
Abeer is an architect and Master’s student in Urban and Environmental Planning in Syria. She participated in training around tangible and intangible cultural heritage and renovation and has worked as editor for the magazine Twenty-Two, specialising in architectural concerns through educating, training, habitation and culture– spreading. Among their volunteering staff are students, graduate architects, and researchers across the architectural spectrum. Abeer has also collaborated with the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums and is interested in social-spatial cohesion by working and connecting with local communities and their shared heritage.
Jordanna was born in 1979 and lives and works in both Plymouth and London. As an artist and curator, she explores the oscillation between the discombobulation and pain of living in a neoliberal spectacle; the sickening attraction towards it and the craving for other possible futures. Through her multidisciplinary practice, she asks what strategies we can use to resist its seductive charms, to create other possible futures and reinvest the self into our day to day living. As well as an artist and curator, she is co-founder and director of community cultural hubs; GROW Hackney and GROW Plymouth.
Chloe is a 3D Designer and Youth Educator. She was born in the UK in 1990, and lives and works in Plymouth. Her practice often explores natural and urban landscapes, sustainability and energy systems. Working in a broad range of materials, she creates interactive, educational props, which have included games and mechanical models. Via her current project ‘Future Meadows’, Chloe explores new forms of communication around the protection and restoration of seagrass and its relationship to climate change.
Nicole Gilbert is an Urban Designer and artist, originally trained in philosophy. She was born in the UK in 1997. She is interested in places and the people that inhabit them at all scales. From cities, to towns, to the home, She explores preserving feelings and identity in the face of change and creates concept maps, paintings and illustrations from stories, observation and data. Nicoles’s current work is on aspirations in a coastal community in Cornwall, where she grew up. Themes include climate change, nostalgia, the loss of traditional industry, and social divides, in a rapidly modernising world.
Create Syria seeks to increase the capacity of artists interested in arts and social change, to develop stronger, more cohesive communities through the design and delivery of community arts initiatives that focus on experience and artistic quality. Create Syria supports individuals and initiatives to build new skills, grow their experience and network with creative practitioners interested in the relationship between arts and community practices.
Beyond the Now is a syndicated online platform, founded by partners working in locations across Europe and the Mena region. It aims to open new creative, cultural and political affinities for a post-pandemic world; and to amplify the necessity for and experience of solidarity in a time of crisis. Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Practice in a (Dis) Connected World Programme, funded by the British Council International Collaboration Fund. Key partners include Ettijahat Independent Culture, Counterpoints Arts, Arts University Plymouth and Mozilla Festival.
This residency at GROW is part of a year-long series of pop-up residencies and cultural events working with partners to experiment and explore the building, its surroundings, heritage and looks to the future in terms of sustainability, inclusion, food and drink, grassroots arts, music and culture. The top floors have been converted into studios, which are now creative homes to painters, audio artists, printmakers, installation and socially engaged artists.
This is an Arts University Plymouth Knowledge Exchange project supported by Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Funding for Smaller Providers.