Ben Judd’s Stanley Picker Fellowship project The Origin reflected on Britain’s island status, both literal and metaphorical, and how islands shape the communities that live there. The Stanley Picker Gallery sits on an island in the Hogsmill River and Kingston Upon Thames historically existed as an island surrounded by marshland. The nearby River Thames is home to many islands and also boats – floating communities.
The Origin brings together the communities surrounding the Stanley Picker Gallery – from Kingston University students and academics to local networks, charities and residents – and asks them to imagine a classless, stateless, humane society based on common ownership. A temporary community, an experiment in living, a fictional island group. How would this community interact? What would they move, sound and dress like? How would they communicate with the outside world?
Imagining this temporary community felt particularly poignant in the divisive political landscape that the project was first developed in. However, The Origin took on greater significance in 2020 when most people were thrust into social isolation and interactions migrated online. Hope, love, solidarity, care and support are all values central to this temporary community’s identity – but have also manifested in the community spirit of our own islands over the last year.
Through a series of workshops and conversations, participants collaborated with Judd – and each other – to define different aspects of this imagined, temporary community. A first iteration of the project #TheOriginKingston took place online during the first national lockdown – browse their online dialogue here or search for the hashtag #TheOriginKingston on social media. The second iteration took place in person, at the Gallery and on the boat on the River Thames, bringing the online collaborators together and introducing new partnerships through a series of performances, workshops and events – a rehearsal for an alternative future. Visit here to find out more and view the outcomes.
Participation partners included The Gate, Kingston School of Art (KSA) Fashion, Jim Dunk (Writer), The Bradbury (Staywell), Writers’ Centre Kingston, Aoife Donnely (Architect), The Grange at Bookham, KSA Dance, 121 Collective, Robin Hutchinson (Community Brain), Elliot Newton (Citizen Zoo), Dani Admiss (Artist), Helen Wickstead (Historian), KSA MA Museum & Gallery Studies, Anna-Wendy Stevenson (University of the Highlands and Islands), Chloe Steele (Musician), Eel Pie Island, Martin Glover, Canbury and Riverside Association, The Kingston Academy, United Response, Caitlin Davis (Author), Maria Celina Val (Artist), KSA MA Sustainable Design, Mill Street Residents Association, KSA Drama.