May 3, 2018

People United’s 2018 commissions will be exploring the themes of Home and Self-Identity. They will be run with Diocese of Canterbury and Ashford Borough Council and funded by Arts Council England (Home) and Joining Hands, Joining Hearts, and supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Optivo (Self-Identity).

The artists chosen to lead these commissions are Anna Ray for the Home commission and Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin for the Self-Identity commission.

Anna Ray

Artist Anna Ray will work with recently-arrived Syrian mothers and local mothers who live in Ashford, Kent. Together they will produce an exhibition exploring the idea of ‘home’: what does the word ‘home’ mean to different people; what makes a place a ‘home’, is it important to feel ‘at home’ and how do women feel about and depict the home-making process? This commission aims to bring the women together to explore commonalities and celebrate differences.

Anna studied BA (Hons) and MFA Tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art between 1994 and 1999. She has been granted major awards for her work such as the Edinburgh Visual Arts and Crafts Award (2006), Scottish Arts Council Crafts Creative Development Award (2004) and the Scottish Arts Council Assistance Grant to an Individual Artist (2003).

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally over the last twenty years in both applied art and fine art contexts. In 2015-2016 she was artist in residence for The RHS Chelsea Flower Show and she recently exhibited in the high profile exhibition ‘Entangled: Threads & Making’ curated by Karen Wright at Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Anna says:
“When I first heard about the work of People United I was moved by their philosophy. The desire to work with others through kindness is a beautiful idea. I was taken by the idea that through artistic engagement with people, with an empathetic and open approach, we can change our society. I recognise that my work has a broad impact on audiences; through each piece I can communicate on an emotional level, or enthral people through a visual experience. The opportunity to welcome Syrian refugees and support new connections for all the mothers involved through an art project has great meaning for me as an artist and as a person. I hope that in the coming months we can make something wonderful, as we begin working together and as we get to know one another.”


The workshops started in April and some will take place at the Create Platform Festival between 16 and 22 July 2018, working with participants and the general public. An exhibition of the group’s work will be held in Ashford in September/October 2018.


Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin

People United are proud to be co-commissioning with the community group Joining Hands Joining Hearts in 2018. Joining Hands, Joining Hearts is a support group for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic abuse who aim to help disempowered and isolated women through emotional and practical support. They meet weekly to talk, take part in all sorts of activities and to support each other. There is a lot of laughter.

Artists Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin will work with Joining Hands, Joining Hearts to explore self-identity; what that means for those who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse; and how their experiences might encourage and contribute to a positive sense of self in others. To culminate in an artwork that can be shared digitally with a diverse and large number of people in the wider community and beyond.

Sarah Cole is a visual artist who makes work in and beyond the gallery or museum. Recent work includes: ‘In-Kind’, a mobile one-to-one performance about being a carer; ‘Smother’, an Artangel commission, presented at 101 Kings Cross Road; and ‘TRIBE’ at Peckham Platform in London. Her work engages with pedagogy, performance and place and takes the form of events, installations, recordings, presentations and publications. She has been a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, since 2000.

Annis Joslin is an artist and filmmaker who puts people at the heart of all her work, with many projects being collaborative or documentary based. Central to her approach is creating encounters and making connections with communities through conversation and creative interventions. Her practice, rooted in the social, connects with and listens for the hidden voices in our communities. She seeks out projects that give agency to individual and group lived experience in a rare, considered, participatory process to create lens based work for multiple platforms, galleries and non-gallery sites and situations.

Sarah and Annis say:
“We are delighted to have been selected for this commission with People United and Joining Hands, Joining Hearts. Over the next six months we are keen to get to know everyone and begin to experiment with, and test, our ideas and shared ambitions. We will be thinking about how we define, understand and learn to accept ourselves, and how we can communicate these experiences so that the work can reach a wider audience in a meaningful, playful and challenging way.”


If you would like to find out more or to see if you can get involved please email [email protected]. To keep up to date with information about this commission and other People United projects please sign up to our newsletter here.

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