Speaking to Support Structures: FerArts
Our best creative work is developed through our experiences – how we see the world and what we leave in our legacies.
FerArts, a collective of socially-engaged artists, share their approach to amplifying marginalised voices across the creative industries and society.
Support Structures for Support Structures is a fellowship which nurtures London-based artists and collectives working with spatial, social and community practices. Initiated with Sumayya Vally – architect of the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 – the programme offers financial support and mentorship, and forms a supportive network of peers.
For this series, we asked each of the fellows in the 2021 Support Structures cohort to reflect on their work in the context of community. FerArts is an artist-led collective supporting underrepresented, emerging and socially-engaged creatives. Amongst their activities, this versatile collective develops artists towards paid careers in the arts, collaborates with makers driven by change, and builds networks to ensure creative jobs for young people.
Can you tell us more about yourselves?
We are a growing community of 48 artists from across inner-city London, 85% of whom identify as artists of colour. Our collective strongly represents working class and south-west Asian and north-African artists. We are mostly second-generation Londoners, and our lived experience of immigration, refuge and resilience shapes our values, perspectives and motivations for change – all of which we aim to communicate through visual arts, film and photography.
Why is collective work important to you?
Because we are community-led, collective work is vital to our ethos. We think about community in a wider sense – beyond the place or culture we belong to, we are part of a community in society, where we can share perspectives and open space for dialogue. Collective work means acknowledging how we are all different and valuing those differences. Together, we can create more impact and hold space for others.
As a collective, we are united around a shared aim: shaping the direction of the contemporary art scene by amplifying marginalised voices, advocating for diversity, supporting a rising generation of artists, and sharing thought-provoking and innovative works with new audiences. We thrive on learning from others as socially-engaged creatives. We collect oral histories, we platform unheard voices and we collaborate – then, we make this visual and accessible to as many people as possible. This approach is always structured around the communities with which we work.
What do justice and liberation look like to you?
Growing up at a pivotal time in history – where immigration thrives yet racism soars, where innovation overrides integrity, and where questions are met with more questions – we are constantly seeking routes to live our truths. The injustice in the world can hold us back from doing this – building fear that stops us moving forward. But when we come together, we rise and shed light by raising awareness, making noise and taking up space. When we shift power, we can reach a more liberated state of being and create a change in the world. This could be a tiny victory against censorship or triggering a major policy shift.
As a collective, we champion issues that have limited support from institutions where marginalised voices are in the minority. Creatively, we platform these issues to a wider audience and invite open dialogue, which builds momentum for change on a larger scale. We collaborate with advocates, community leaders, and grassroots organisations – making steps closer to justice, liberation, truth. In all this, we draw on our lived experiences to establish respect, perseverance and equity. Our best creative work is developed through our experiences – how we see the world and what we leave in our legacies.