Eyecaste reached its funding goal on 19th August 2011, exceeding its £1500 target by raising £1560 from 37 donors.
Eyecaste is a 21-day collaborative artistic adventure. It will enable Dalit women in India to express themselves creatively, and enable me, an emerging artist with an interest in the social, to broaden my artistic practice while raising awareness of the plight of the broken, oppressed women at the bottom of India’s social hierarchy.
I will arrive with an array of arts materials, and spend 10 days running creative workshops with women who are deemed by their own society to be the lowest of the low – the ‘untouchables’ of the caste system. My practice delves into the ‘nitty gritty’ of real life – that which lies beneath the surface. Humans are fallible and this project explores our complexities, while striving for hope, beauty and/or understanding.
Part One – mobile art workshop
Everyone is capable of original artistic expression. And India inspires! The heat, the colours, the crazy horn blowing, sari-clad ladies riding side-saddle on scooters, tasty dhal-fry, train journeys, silver monkeys and weighty monsoon rain. But India has a dark side too. It will be interesting to see which aspects of their lives the women choose to express through this project.
The artworks could take the form of textile works, charcoal drawings, abstract paintings, collage or photography. The challenge is to engage the women, some of who have been rescued from sex trafficking scenarios, to explore notions of memory, emotion and place, through the materials provided.
I am currently talking to Dalit Freedom Network, www.dfn.org.uk with a view to delivering the workshops with women in their centres in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The intention is to produce a volume of work that I can take away and prepare for exhibition next year.
Part Two – reflect, develop, progress…
Phase two of the project will involve travelling to Goa and spending 10 days in an artist’s studio. I will reflect upon my experiences with the women and develop my own work; not only from the workshops but also from the writings, sketches and photography of the trip. Goa has a burgeoning art scene and I will begin a dialogue about an exhibition.
Galleries play a pivotal role in bringing important social/global issues to the fore and I am currently approaching contemporary UK galleries.
Project impact – what are the benefits?
Alongside the exhibition, which will raise awareness, the goal of the project is to create lasting social impact. A new sewing machine can provide women with a means of financial independence. Producing art can also have a positive impact: raising aspirations, increasing confidence, improving communication skills and unlocking creativity.
Funds – what will they be used for?
A large chunk of what you donate will go on international and domestic flights. It will also pay for accommodation, food, land travel, arts materials, bindi, sewing machine(s), fabric, needles, thread…
The Artist – who is she?
Lou Prendergast recently graduated from Glasgow School of Art’s Sculpture department with a BA(Hons) in Fine Art. She achieved a distinction for outstanding achievement in dissertation (Other Feminisms: who knows it, feels it). Lou is a former journalist and a personal English tutor to high school children. She is an experienced Art tutor, teaching a range of ages and abilities, including individuals with assisted needs. Lou’s course leader had this to say of her involvement in a school project:
Lou was very pro-active in managing this project, taking a lead in galvanizing her fellow students, liaising with teaching staff in the school and presenting the workshops. She is a highly organized, trustworthy woman who has a wealth of skills and a sympathetic disposition, which she has shown she can apply most effectively to educational contexts. Patsy Forde, Project Manager, Artists and Designers in Education, Glasgow School of Art.
Follow our progress on Twitter @Eyecaste and on the Facebook page, Eyecaste Art Project, where you can view more of the artist’s work.
The rewards offered to Eyecaste funders were:-
Signed photo from the trip!- £10.00
Twice Posted Postcard: from there to here to you- £15.00
Original writing from the trip- £25.00
Bombay Bling Box: don't you just love surprises?- £50.00
Textile Tile: original artwork on ceramic or glass-£100.00
Sun-dried Splash: framed expressive painting- £150.00
Sky's the Limit: commission your own artwork- £250.00