What is the Project about?
This is an autism-friendly, social art project featuring 80 washing line photos from 80 different countries; depicting the lives and heritage of these 80 people. Each washing line image will be bought to life with a blog written about the person behind the washing line; to get a glimpse of their life and to learn about them. The images will be printed out onto 80 separate laundry items (e.g. a t-shirt, apron) and then hung up as an interactive art installation (e.g. visitors can touch and smell the clothes) that resembles a launderette. More info can be found on the webpage: http://www.mahliaamatina.com/project-washing-lines
Educational workshops with children will be run. The exhibition will take place in Reading (16-30 Sept), Slough (16-30 Oct) and London (20 Nov–2 Dec).
Who will the Exhibition aim to Attract?
As a neurodiverse (autistic) person, I have extraordinary sensory sensitivity, and I want to create an exhibition that is accessible to audiences from across the autistic spectrum. I will be experimenting in making the exhibition fully immersive and interactive to encourage participation from the autistic community (i.e. people can pick up clothes – touch and smell them – put them back somewhere different). I want to test the logistics and limitations of this approach, as well as to see whether this approach attracts and engages other types of audiences; for instance children and the elderly.
As an artist from a diverse background (with parents from Asia and Africa), I wish to use this factor along with the international nature of the exhibition to appeal to ethnically diverse audiences who may not typically engage with the arts, and to encourage attendance – and consequently other art and heritage events in general.
At what stage is the Project at?
So far, a small sample of the exhibition has been shown in 3 launderettes in Reading as part of its ‘Year of Culture’ celebrations (2016). Workshops have been run with cultural community groups to help inform the art; so I could learn about the laundry process in different countries, as well as engaging the groups in art-making by getting them to decorate their own recyclable laundry bag.
Members of the workshops also contributed photos of washing lines (from their native countries) towards the project, and told their stories. The groups were hugely successful and this project has been in a minority of those taking place (in Reading) that engages with communities of diverse backgrounds.
All 80 photos of washing lines from around the world have been collated, and the exhibition has been displayed in small pop-up formats at various events and exhibiting opportunities to raise awareness of the project and its profile.
Where did the Idea come from?
The background to this project comes from my previous social art project, ‘Kathmandu Calling!’ (Art on Nepal, for Nepal), which exhibited in Reading in October 2015, and raised funds for Nepal’s earthquake victims. The art was based on Nepal, which was informed through my time spent volunteering and travelling the land. One painting in particular; “Look! They Also Dry Their Clothes” captured the hearts and imagination of the public, as visitors realised what we all share with our global neighbours; yet on a really pure and simple level.
This overwhelming human reaction to, and engagement with the painting and its concept spurred me to make ‘Around the World in 80 Washing Lines’ a reality by using the simple concept of the washing line to deliver a social message that through our cultural differences - on a day to day level – we are not so differently pegged together.
What’s the Funding for?
*** CALL TO ACTION! ***
I would like to invite the *AMAZING* Kickstarter community to help support my efforts and goal to make ‘Around the World in 80 Washing Lines’ a reality. Through this campaign, I am aiming to cover costs for the 80 items of clothing; the printing of each washing line image and story onto the various pieces of clothing. This is the core part of exhibition, without which; there is no exhibition.
The result of this project being successfully funded is a well-resolved exhibition of 80 pieces of installation art, which can be viewed by a wide audience through exhibition spaces across Reading, Slough and London with the complementary educational workshops taking place. I want to make this exhibition as accessible as possible. The long term goal is to take this exhibition further afield, as once it's setup - there's no reason why it can't tour to various venues and reach multiple audiences and carry its incredible social message.
I truly hope that this installation will help capture the imagination of people from all backgrounds and across the spectrum, to celebrate inclusivity, as well as bringing together demographics that may not typically engage with the arts to do so.
Risks and challenges
As with any project that engages a cohort of creative input; elements of the project might shift and evolve, however, the core of the exhibition remains a tribute to cultural diversity and neurodiverse inclusivity - and all of the stories it encounters along the way.
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