To mark the anniversary of the 1970 Equal Pay Act and the momentum for change created by the Dagenham Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968, Serpentine Galleries and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are partnering to develop a series of collaborative artist residencies and commissions that will examine the future and histories of work, called Radio Ballads.
Radio Ballads is part of New Town Culture – a pioneering programme of artistic and cultural activity taking place in adult and children’s social care across the entire borough. This is a Cultural Impact Award winning project, part of London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative. New Town Culture responds to the incredible stories, knowledge and skills of the residents of Barking and Dagenham, delivering a programme of workshops, exhibitions, radio broadcasts, live performances and courses targeted at people using social care services in our borough. Working closely with social care professionals and artists, the project hopes to unlock the value of art and culture for all our communities. Its ambition is to support social workers and carers to try out new ways of working to enhance the brilliant work they already do.
The original Radio Ballads were produced by musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, working with radio producer Charlie Parker to make a series for the BBC, focussing on workers’ experiences and issues. The original series of eight one-hour Radio Ballads revolutionised radio documentary and were broadcast by the BBC from 1957–64. A combination of song, music, sound effect and recorded voice, each Radio Ballad presented a view on the working lives of British people.
The commissioned artists: Sonia Boyce, Helen Cammock, Rory Pilgrim and Ilona Sagar.
Helen Cammock works across moving image, photography, writing, poetry, spoken word, song, performance, printmaking and installation.
Cammock is interested in histories, authorship, storytelling and the excavation of lost, unheard and buried voices, often mapping her own writing, literature, poetry, philosophical and other found texts onto social and political situations. Her work has drawn on material from Nina Simone, Philip Larkin, James Baldwin, The Housemartins, Walter Benjamin, Franz Fanon and others to reveal the way in which we construct our own personal collage of influences and reference points to establish our own sense of self, context and history.
Cammock’s work has been screened as part of the Serpentine Cinema Series and Tate Artists Moving Image Screening Programme. She has exhibited at venues including Cubitt, London; Galerie Futura Alpha Nova, Berlin; The Tetley, Leeds; Open Source Contemporary Arts Festival; Hollybush Gardens, London; and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, London. She has written for Photoworks and Aperture magazine and was shortlisted for the Bridport poetry prize in 2015. Her work has been published in The Photographers’ Gallery journal Loose Associations and in an artist book and vinyl 12” Moveable Bridge with Bookworks, London. She has just finished a commission The Long Note with Void, Londonderry, which is soon to open as a solo presentation at IMMA, Dublin. She is making work for Novel as part of Reading International in 2018/19 and is beginning a new commission with Film and Video Umbrella/Touchstones/The Photographers Gallery. She will be artist-in-residence at Wysing in autumn 2019. Helen was awarded the 7th edition of the Max Mara Prize for Women 2018 and will have an exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London in June this year and Maramotti Collection, Reggio Emilia in Oct.
Centred on emancipatory concerns, Rory Pilgrim’s work aims to challenge the very nature of how we come together, speak, listen and strive for social change through sharing and voicing personal experience.
Strongly influenced by the origins of activist, feminist and socially engaged art, Pilgrim works collaboratively with others through different methods of dialogue, collaboration and workshops. Creating connections between activism, spirituality, music, technology and community, Rory works in a wide range of media including sound, song writing , film, music video and live performance. Recent Solo Shows include: Between Bridges, Berlin (2019) Andriesse-Eyck Gallery, Amsterdam NL (2018), South London Gallery (2018), Rowing, London (2017), Plymouth Art Centre, Plymouth (2017), Flat Time House, London (2016), Site Gallery, Sheffield (2016) and sic! Raum für Kunst, Luzern CH (2014).
Ilona Sagar lives and works in London UK. Using a diverse range of media spanning performance, film and assemblage, she has formed a body of work, which responds to the social and historical context found in the public and private spaces we inhabit.
Sagar’s practice is developed in a cross-disciplinary dialogue with a range of art and scientific disciplines; including dance, architecture and neurology. Her film ‘Correspondence O’ won an AHRC Research in Film Award 2018.
Recent projects include Living with Buildings, group exhibition, Wellcome Collection, London, UK (2018/2019); Self Service, publication and event series, CCA and GOMA, Glasgow as part of Glasgow International (2018); Correspondence O, solo exhibition at South London Gallery, London UK (2017/2018), GLORIA, Yinka Shonibare Guest Projects 10 year anniversary, London (2018) HereAfter: group show as part of the SPACE HereAfter residency, The White Building, London UK (2017); a solo project at Pump House Gallery, London as part of The Ground We Tread (2016).
Sonia Boyce (Born 1962, London. Lives and works in London) studied art at East Ham College and Stourbridge College of Art. Boyce emerged as one of the leading figures in the Black-British arts scene in the 1980s whose work explored issues around race and gender. Her work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Internationally and she has also been the recipient of several awards including most recently the Paul Hamlyn Award. Recent exhibitions include Speaking in Tongues, CCA-Glasgow (2014); S/N: Signal to Noise, Whitney Museum of Modern Art/The Kitchen, New York (2015); All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and Paper Tiger Whisky Soap Theatre (Dada Nice), Villa Arson, Nice (2016). She is currently a professor and Chair of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts, London. In 2007 Sonia Boyce received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.