Residency at Mildmay Park care home, Islington, London
Exhibition: ‘Wheelin N Dealin’ at The Printhouse Gallery, 23rd April to 23rd June 2015
Supported by Arts Council England, Islington Council and Cripplegate Foundation
The Mildmay Collective was an artists’ residency project led by the artists Amy Pennington and Clea House, working with long-term residents of Mildmay Park care home. The core members of the Collective were: Daniel Berhane, Jean Curtis, Gary Dunn, Sue Finn, Clea House, Tracey Musgrave, Tony Neville, Amy Pennington, Tony Neville, Helen Theodore, Alex Wright, Mia Wright and Michael Waller.
The Collective worked together to make new artworks, performances and interventions. On the annual Mildmay trip to Southend, Amy performed as a holiday rep, decorating the bus, playing travel games, and duetting with the day trippers into inflated microphones. All members of the Collective wore custom-made ‘Club 66-98’ badges, referring to the ages of the oldest and youngest residents on the trip, and marking themselves, publicly, as a community; a community, moreover, defined by life experience rather than their (dis)ability.
Each participant-artist developed his or her creative projects, facilitated by Amy and Clea. For example, Danny made a film using footage gathered from a camera attached to his wheelchair. After a brief stay in hospital, in which her custom-made wheelchair was lost or stolen, Tracey wrote and directed a camp soap opera that expressed her frustration at the careless face of bureaucracy. She also worked with Amy to develop milk-carton posters searching for the missing chair. In this way, the Mildmay Residency made use of the strategies of art making and collaborative practices to express the physical and emotional landscapes of the Collective’s lives.
The Collective held a group exhibition at The Printhouse Gallery in east London to mark the end of the Residency. ‘Wheelin N Dealin’ included a series of political, text-based prints (Tracey Musgrave and Amy Pennington), a wheelchair that had been ‘knit bombed’ (Helen Theodore and Mildmay Knitting Group), and the remnants of the protest soap opera (Tracey Musgrave, Amy Pennington and Clea House).
Many of the relationships, performances and interstices that were part of the residency are encapsulated in Amy Pennington’s Vending Machine. [link]
Working from a training room turned art studio, The Collective developed work individually and in groups over the course of the Mildmay Residency. Much of the work produced responds to the hidden experiences of people with physical disabilities or long term degenerative illnesses.
The Residency model placed art and creativity at the centre of Mildmay Park. The project also included workshops in creative activities for the care home’s staff, in order to challenge stereotypes about the activities that take place in a care setting.