02 March 2016

Rose Hill Art Project
Arts practice as a means of community consultation (2012-2016)

Heidi Broad, 3rd year OBU Fine Art student assisting with the large painting

Between 2012 and 2013, seventy-two residents of Rose Hill participated in The Rose Hill Art Project devised by artists brook & black (Tiffany Black, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Oxford Brookes and Leora Brook) to support community consultation and the development of artwork to form part of the new Rose Hill Community Centre.

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The £4.76m flagship building opened in January 2016, as the new home of Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre, Rose Hill Junior Youth Club, and Rose Hill Social Club. brook & black worked in collaboration with architects ADP Oxford (Architects Design Partnership) and Beard Construction to integrate an interior design and colour scheme that stemmed from the art workshops. The window manifestations, wall designs, children’s artwork and a commissioned photographic print collection for the new Social Club came directly from the art workshops and were a result of dialogue with the residents of Rose Hill.

Working over a year with pupils from Rose Hill Primary School, the residents of Alice and Margaret House, the Asian and Arabic Women’s group, the Youth Group and the Children’s Centre, Tiffany Black engaged with participants who were invited to make work in response to thoughts and memories of living in Rose Hill, The Oval and the Old Community Centre. Each group created art reflecting their own experiences of being part of the community, of activities that had taken place growing up in Rose Hill and how these important years could be reflected in the new centre. Two OBU second and third year Fine Art students also joined the project at different stages as part of the Placement in Industries module.

Part of Rose Hill is not only the most deprived in Oxford and within the 10 per cent most deprived in England, but 45 per cent of children in the area live below the poverty line. But despite this, Rose Hill is a vibrant and diverse community, and the community centre represents just one of a number of improvements to the area.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, commented on the project, 'Oxford City Council places great value on linking the city's superb cultural resources with its community and educational development programmes. The Council has worked frequently with the visual arts groups in the city to introduce young people who have limited access to opportunities to undertake practical arts projects, to experienced artists and makers. The project which linked Oxford Brookes with the development of the new Rose Hill Community Centre, which opened in January 2016, is a particularly successful example of the contribution which artists can make when they work with the local community and produce work of high quality, and of long lasting value for the life of the new centre. The Council is very appreciative of the work carried out with Brookes'.

The success of the Art Project was dependent on the participants and artists working collaboratively, sharing ideas and potential imagery and these being taken forward into the two year building phase by the artists in dialogue with the architects. Whilst there was support for a new community centre to be built, the Art Project contributed to the inclusion of residents in the decision making process and has resulted in a building where the artwork acknowledges the past and hopes to reflect the vitality of its future.