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Apart From the Road

Rosemary Lee

© Nic Sandiland
2001 – 2004

Deep within the confines of a local library a group of 8-9 year-old children had quietly taken over. They had made their way into the filling cabinets, crawled onto the bookshelves and rolled through the photocopier. Tiny video screens, TV monitors and video projectors revealed a collection of whispered poems and miniature dances.

“When driving around Barking Dagenham I was drawn to find the children amongst the big roads and to work with them to hear their hopes dreams and to highlight each one in their own community.  I wanted to make dancing, aural, portraits of each child.  I ended up managing to do this with 180 children. A privilege and a challenge.”

Rosemary Lee

Apart From The Road evoked a sense of transient urban schooldays whilst delicately capturing momentary portraits of each child.

First commissioned by East London Dance. An A13 Artscape and Year of the Artist project. Additional funding from Arts Council of England; London Boroughs of Barking, Hammersmith and Tower Hamlets; Paul Hamlyn Foundation; John Lyons Charity; Spitalfields Market Community Trust; Crying Out Loud.

Collaborating with film/installation artist Nic Sandiland and poet Chrissie Gittens, Rosemary spent several periods of residency at Marsh Green School in Dagenham over the previous year. They worked with the children, often individually to create specific films and poems for the site specific installation created for Barking Library in summer 2001.

Apart From the Road-Hammersmith was remade for Hammersmith Library in 2003 where they worked with more children in the locality at Lena Gardens, Sacred Heart and St Paul’s Primary Schools and added new pieces specifically created for Hammersmith’s Victoria library, to the existing work.

Apart From The Road-Whitechapel the artists were joined by visual artist Robin Whitmore and poet Shamim Azad to work with two more classes of 8-9 years olds from Shapla and St Paul’s Primary Schools. Again new works specifically created for Whitechapel library were added to existing works.

At least 180 children were involved in creating individual film artwork and poems.

“The exhibition displays foresight, the utmost creativity, and deeply intelligent caring for the community. This work is about investing in the future, about teaching children not to be afraid of their own voices, about helping them integrate. It is thanks to work like this that -just maybe- we will have compassionate leaders in the world in the future.”

“You’ve done something truly inspiring.”

“It captures something fleeting and magical… fantastic.”

“The library was a new sense of life.”

“It’s ordinary and extraordinary at the same time familiar and peculiar. Wonderful to think of the children’s’ voices still whispering even when we are not listening-is this a comment on all our lives?  Charles Clarke and David Blunkett should be visiting this to learn about true diversity and education and how to give everyone a voice.”

“This is an example of the union of art with social action.”

Catherine Hale, Animated, 2001

“It was altogether a fun idea, cleverly and beautifully realised.”

Donald Hutera, Dance Europe 2001

“Yet, its careful elicitation of a heightened reality and its concern for an authentic representation make Apart from the Road a highly crafted and compelling piece of art.”

Catherine Hale, Animated 2001

Artistic director: Rosemary Lee
Film maker and installation design: Nic Sandiland
Poet: Chrissie Gittens
Performers: a class of 8-9 years olds from Marsh Green Primary School

© Nic Sandiland