Students from MA Architecture and MA Fine Art will collaborate on a day of workshops in response to the British Pavilion commission Island at the Venice Biennale
The cross-course team have the opportunity to produce a series of workshops on October 27 entitled Mutability thanks to AUB’s participation in the 2018 Venice Fellowship Programme.
To provide a platform for multiple voices and interpretations of Island, the British Council, curators Caruso St John Architects and the artist Marcus Taylor have invited universities including AUB to respond to the central themes of the 2018 British Pavilion through student-led workshops and events.
Island is curated by Caruso St John Architects in collaboration with the artist Marcus Taylor, and runs from May 26 to November 25, 2018.
The Venice Fellowships Programme, run by the British Council, is a unique opportunity for students to spend a month at the Venice Biennale, splitting their time between stewarding the British Pavilion and conducting independent research. This year 69 people from 29 institutions are taking part in the Programme.
AUB students from M.Arch and MA Fine Art will have the invaluable opportunity to spend an exciting week in Venice, leading up to conducting a day of workshops on October 27.
Earlier this year AUB students Brittany Sutcliffe and Ryan Snook were selected to take part in the 2018 Venice Fellowship Programme as part of the university’s partnership with the British Council.
And we have now caught up with some of the M.Arch and MA Fine Art students to find out what it means to be involved in the Biennale, more about the project itself and how much preparation had gone into it.
MASTER of ARCHITECTURE
Twelve members of the MArch Architecture course led by students Emily Riddiough and Sean Forryan will have an opportunity to create a spatial intervention and run two workshops, in collaboration with Professor of Drawing Sian Bowen and MA Fine art students.
Island leaves the internal galleries of the British Pavilion empty and the British Council is inviting organisations in to provide a platform for multiple voices and interpretations of the project.
The students will have an opportunity to have a day in there courtesy of the British Council, making and engaging with the public. (References: Island, Freespace and Calvino’s Invisible Cities).
The AUB: Mutability project emerged from the work the M.Arch 2 students had been doing with Prof. Sian Bowen examining frames and lightness at many levels: from Japanese models and origins; In Praise of Shadows; and to the Poetics of Space. Over the summer, Ryan from M.Arch 2 was out in Venice, as a British Council Fellow in the Pavilion.
The students are creating their own AUB island within, with wood and string to represent recent events in Britain like #Brexit and the Grenfell fire. These spaces are created from simple timber frame structures in each of the six rooms with something different happening in each room but all interlinked by the frame. It has go up in less than an hour.
Speaking about the event, Emily said: “The architecture Biennale is a great opportunity for architects, academics and design orientated individuals to assemble once every two years in Venice to showcase new projects and discuss development within the industry.
“As students, this is an amazing opportunity for our work to be exhibited with international publicity. The Biennale is a platform that could lead on to further prospects within the field of art, architecture, and design, but is also an amazing platform to showcase work to individuals from across Europe and the rest of the world.”
Sean added: “It’s a massive honour to be given the platform to express our ideas on the world stage at the 2018 Biennale, especially so early in our architectural careers.”
Another member of the team who can give his perspective on the Pavilion’s approach to Island is Joel Wallace Erabu.
He said: “As a student from outside the EU, I think Brexit is unfortunate as this creates constraints between Britain and her neighbours. However change is inevitable at some point and we’ve got to embrace that.
“Mary Shelley’s poem Mutability re-echoes a similar view of working with change rather than fighting it. I view Marcus Taylor’s empty pavilion as a period of deep reflection with a ray of light illuminating this unprecedented time. Britain’s head is still above water, just like the pavilion breaks the horizontal line of water…island.”
A framed lightweight structure with translucent screens will define a series of connecting, temporary ‘island spaces’. Folding miniature paper pieces and related works will continue to be installed throughout the day. Crucially, new folded and drawn pieces created by visitors during the workshop will contribute to this evolving and transformative installation.
Reflecting on how imagination and memory traverse the spaces and boundaries of an island, visitors will be welcome to participate in a concluding informal discussion with AUB Fine Art and Architecture students, MA Architecture course leader Ed Frith, artist and Professor of Drawing Sian Bowen and MA Fine Art course leader Simon Granell. The programme will culminate with tea served on the upper platform accompanied by a reading of Shelley’s poem Mutability.
MA FINE ART
Professor Bowen with the Fine Art students will be running two workshops on the day, one which will involve drawing the frame built by the MA Architecture students. The Fine Art workshop shall also include pieces of work produced from an earlier workshop by Sian.
One pivotal person from this group is Figan Dastan who crosses over between Fine Art and Architecture disciplines. She studied Fine Art and worked closely with Professor Bowen before and now joined the MA Architecture course.
Figan said: “The biennale is a great opportunity for artists and designers to gain more exposure for their work, as well as see what others have done.”
During the day, visitors are invited to explore concepts relating to the fragile nature of islands; ever-shifting geographical and psychological boundaries will be considered through a series of workshops and discussions – and informed by a temporary installation of architectural structures and folding drawings.
The exhibition itself is a response to the Architettura 2018 theme of ‘Freespace’. Island will exhibit on an elevated public piazza on the roof of the British Pavilion, where the peak of the Pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor. This unique vantage point can be envisioned as an island above a sunken world.
The exhibition’s curators, Adam Caruso, Peter St John and Marcus Taylor, said in their statement: “There will be many ways to interpret the experience of visiting the 2018 British Pavilion. An island can be a place of both refuge and exile.
“The state of the building, which will be completely covered with scaffolding to support the new platform above, suggests many themes; including abandonment, reconstruction, sanctuary, Brexit, isolation, colonialism and climate change.”