Ben Judd’s Stanley Picker Fellowship project The Origin reflects 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 have been collaborating with Judd 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. This collaborative project culminates this summer with an installation at the Gallery, a boat on the River Thames and a series of performances, workshops and events – a rehearsal for an alternative future.
A large free-standing structure in Stanley Picker Gallery, built by 121 Collective and Architecture at Kingston School of Art (KSA), will act as a focal point for the community, both imagined and real. The structure will contain objects and images related to the project that are used to substantiate the community’s existence and sketch out its history and aspirations.
A boat will travel along the River Thames in Kingston facilitating meetings, workshops and performances throughout June and July 2021. Informed by discussions with Canbury and Riverside Association, an architectural intervention designed by Interior Design (KSA) and 121 Collective will be fixed to the boat adapting to the needs and aspirations of local people.
Further collaborations include: new instrumental and choral music produced by Refugee Action Kingston and Music (KSA); a choreographic sequence developed by The Grange and Dance (KSA), incorporating elements of the sign language known as Makaton; texts and poetic responses by The Bradbury and Writers’ Centre Kingston that consider the elemental force, locality, and history of the Thames; and adaptable, transformable clothing designed by The Gate and KSA Fashion as costumes for the inhabitants of the boat.
The Origin Events Programme
As part of The Origin, a series of workshops, performances, talks and tours took place at Stanley Picker Gallery, a boat moored in Kingston Upon Thames and online throughout June and July 2021. Watch a selection of highlights from these events:
Gallery: 10 June Collaboration between KSA Fashion & The Gate
Gallery: 11 June 11am-1pm Creative Writing Workshop by Jim Dunk
Online: 11 June 3.30pm Performance by Writers’ Kingston
Gallery: 11 June 4pm Walking Tour by Writers’ Kingston
Gallery: 12 June 2-3.30pm The Origin Performance
Boat: 17 June 3pm Creative Writing Workshop by Jim Dunk
Boat: 18 June 11am Talk & Workshop by Aoife Donnelly
Boat: 18 June Collaboration between KSA Dance & The Grange
Gallery: 18 June 2pm Talk by 121 Collective
Gallery: 18 June 3pm Talk by Robin Hutchinson, The Community Brain
Boat: 19 June 11am Talk by Elliot Newton
Online: 19 June 12pm Talk by Dani Admiss
Boat: 19 June 1pm Murky Waters Tour
Boat: 19 June 2-5pm KSA Museum & Gallery Studies: Murky Waters Exhibition
Online: 24 June 2pm Talk by Anna Wendy Stevenson
Online: 24 June 2.30pm Chloe Steele: Bann nam Baghasdal Film Screening & Gaelic Singing Workshop
Online: 24 June 3.30pm UHI Land of Our Kin Film Screening
Boat: 25 June 3pm Creative Writing Workshop by Jim Dunk
Boat: 26 June 11am-5pm Eel Pie Island & Museum Tour
Gallery: 26 June 2.30-5pm British Sign Language Tour
Boat: 1 July 11.30am-1pm Art Class
Boat: 1 July 1-3pm Lockdown Creativity on Display (no booking required)
Boat: 1 July 3-4pm Live Music from The Kingston Academy (no booking required)
Boat: 1 July 4-5pm Riverside Design Competition & Winners Announced (no booking required)
Boat: 1 July 5-7pm Live Music (no booking required)
Online: 2 July 2pm Talk by Author, Caitlin Davies
Gallery & Boat: 2 July Collaboration between Maria Celina Val & United Response
Boat: 2 July 4pm Sustainable Design Talk
Boat: 3 July 2pm Time Shivers Performance by KSA Drama (no booking required)
Follow @theoriginkingston on social media for the latest updates!
This project is managed with the support of students from Project Management for Creative Industries (KSA) with graphic design by Louis Polin and Jasmine Kelly.
The project is supported by Leeds Beckett University and Nottingham Trent University. The boat is supported with Art Fund’s Small Project Grants and Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants.
Ben Judd is an artist based in London appointed Stanley Picker Fellow in Art & Design in 2019. His work examines collectivity and participation through performance, moving image and installation, enabling different forms of communities to be explored in relation to site and context. He often works with collaborators as a method to develop self-reflexive folk histories and construct temporary communities. Judd has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, recently including ICA, Art Night London, Whitstable Biennale and Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool.