The Animal Stories book is now available to buy for just £9, including postage and packaging. Printed in full colour, this 32pp book offers an intriguing look at how animals have shaped life in Hounslow throughout history.
Animal Stories is told through the rich narratives written by Alistair Cartwright, and beautiful, original illustrations by Amber Cooper-Davies. The illustrations even animate using the Artivive app (instructions included).
Your purchase supports our programme and activities.
To order, please contact email@example.com.
Animal Stories is a project that has been in developed by members of the Hounslow Exhibitions Group, which steers the creative direction and ideas for the Creative People and Places Hounslow Visual Arts Programme.
This particular exhibition project started off as an idea about telling stories of animals in Hounslow, suggested by a member of the group, Sonia, who is particularly passionate about animals. This conversation developed over several months, taking shape gradually. We decided to explore the history (both in the distant and recent past) of Hounslow through stories of the animals that live in the borough. We already had some ideas about stories that could be told, such as the Chiswick House Menagerie, highwaymen’s horses, and the unusual wildlife of Isleworth Ait, but we knew there would be much else to discover.
To find and gather these stories, we commissioned a researcher. We did an open call for researchers to work with us, and the group eventually selected Alistair Cartwright.
The group put together a list of stories they knew about, and themes they were interested in, and then Alistair took our ideas, and went away and did some really deep level research, talking to local people and organisations across Hounslow. Alistair commented:
‘Working on this project, so often I was aware that it was the people I was speaking to – wildlife watchers and ecologists, community organisers and archivists – that were leading me on a journey of discovery. Hounslow’s layers of natural and human-made history are immensely complex, vital and at times troubling. Thanks to people like Wendy Marks, who showed me the hidden riches of Cranford Park, or Kathryn Rooke, who dug out some of the more obscure documents attached to Gunnersbury House, I was able to piece together what I hope is a story of relevance not only for understanding the past, but also the future.’
One standout visit was to the Laxminarayan temple. One of the Exhibitions Group, Kamaljeet, is a regular attendee at the temple, and she wanted to share with us her knowledge of the sacred animals that are depicted there. She showed us around and told us the stories of the animals, and the rituals of prayer and offering that are central to Hindu faith. This visit forms the basis of the Laxminarayan story. Kamaljeet reflected that:
“It has been exciting to be a part of the Animal Stories project, because I am from a country where we worship animals. It was a lovely experience to visit the Hindu temple with the team. We had an interesting exchange of views on religious belief. I really appreciate how the researcher and artist used their skills to create a beautiful portrait of Lord Ganesha.”
Alistair had a really strong idea about using the stories to tell a history about how Hounslow has changed socially, demographically, and culturally. The stories touch on some powerful themes, such as empire, migration, social changes through modern air travel and the impact of Heathrow on the environment. The stories are fully cited, so readers can take their own journey through his research, and perhaps even be inspired to start their own research into the local area.
We also ran a call out for an artist to work with us on the project, someone who could really bring the project to life, without making it too cute or cartoony. We met with several artists, and eventually selected Amber Cooper-Davies, a London-based illustrator. Amber works freelance for many companies and brands, and she had some great examples that really worked for the atmosphere we wanted the project to have.
Amber created these wonderful first rough drawings, that the Exhibitions Group reviewed with her, and we ran a session where the group shared their thoughts and feedback.
The first drawings for the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre story. Elements of each drawing were incorporated into the final illustration.
The first roughs for the Pigeons in Isleworth story. One design was chosen over the other and refined as a final version.
These first ideas were refined into a second set of rough drawings that incorporated as much of the detail of the research and local area as possible. Amber chose plenty of really recognisable architectural features from across Hounslow, from the houses in the Pigeon drawing, to the motorway bridge in Cranford Park.
The final rough versions of the illustrations. You can clearly see the evolution of each one from the first versions, especially in the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre image.
Many of Amber’s artistic choices were informed through the process of collaborating with members of the Exhibitions Group:
“It was really interesting to work with the Group on this project, as each person brought their unique insight about the characters and spirit of Hounslow. Usually working as an illustrator I will only really get feedback from one person, but with the richness of Alistair’s research and the knowledge of the panel, I was able to add much more depth and interest to my images. The members of the community really helped me to understand parts of the project that were outside of my personal experience, and showcase Hounslow’s diversity.”
Exhibitions Group members were fully invested in the process of selecting and curating throughout the project, offering their insights and ideas. Group member Gerald said:
“I really enjoyed seeing the project develop, from the planning stages and initial meetings to the rough designs Amber made for the animations. I really enjoyed the openness of the brief which allowed the project to evolve in a very organic way. I was surprised about the wealth of history that Hounslow has involving people and animals, and the way the illustrations brought this history to life was exciting to see.”
Once the design for the image was settled on, Amber selected which elements to animate, and then created puppets by breaking down the images into their moving parts. She cut out each section from painted paper, and attached them together using tiny twists of wire. To make the puppets move, each one was filmed frame by frame against a green screen (or blue screen if the puppet needed to be green!) so that the background could be removed digitally, and layered up on the computer to match the still illustrations.
The final collages were scanned, and printed for the exhibition. The illustrations will be activated by visitors using a mobile phone app, an exciting, innovative use of digital technology to create an interactive piece of storytelling. The animations are also available online, with the stories narrated by Tale Be Told Theatre, a Feltham-based theatre company.
The stories and illustrations are brought together in a printed book (which also animates if you hold your phone over when using the app) which you can buy here. We felt a book was a great way to bring the project together, especially as the project will tour Hounslow’s Libraries – it seemed natural to have a book people can buy to read and enjoy at home. The book and exhibition have been designed by Bharat Patel, with lots of input from the Exhibitions Group, and Amber to create something exciting, original and inspiring for our local community.
We are inviting submissions from curators, artists, collectives or groups of artists to propose a touring exhibition of contemporary art.
We are looking for proposals that respond to the following themes:
Atmospheric Colour an exhibition that will offer new ways of looking at colour, and the different cultural experiences of what colour means. DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF – deadline 2 November 2020.
Mending Community exploring how visual arts and/or craft can help repair communities. We are looking for works that might provoke, or inspire, our communities to take action, and where possible, to showcase innovative use of sustainable or recycled materials. DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF – deadline 1 February 2021
Work can be in any form of visual arts practice that is suitable for display and touring in libraries, and can include 2D and 3D work (we are currently unable to accept moving image work for display).
These briefs have been devised in consultation with the CPP Hounslow Visual Arts Programme Exhibitions Group, which includes library staff and members of the Hounslow Community.
The selected exhibitor should be prepared to work with various stakeholders, both in person and online.
Please download the briefs and read carefully before you apply.
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hounslow’s Hidden Heroes by Laura Edralin will launch online on Monday 28 September 2020 at 5.30pm.
To celebrate, we will host a special online Meet the Artist event, with the opportunity to view the exhibition, hear from Laura about her work, and see a demonstration of her techniques.
Featuring portraits of local people, this project celebrates the ordinary people in the community doing extraordinary things. Many are helping to support and unite society through distributing food, helping people in need of advice and by improving their local area.
These portraits are made digitally, using continuous lines, symbolising the ways in which we are all interconnected. Each person featured has been nominated by a colleague, friend or family member for their remarkable contribution to the community.
Laura is an artist specialising in calligraphy, and continuous line portraits. Working in a high-profile arts and music industry for many years, she explored mindfulness and creativity to support her mental health and wellbeing journey. After reconnecting with her creative outlet and love of line drawings, her work has become a popular space for celebrating flowers, figures and faces, using unbroken lines to create these pieces. Laura is passionate about improving people’s wellbeing, she has worked with organisations, such as the Royal Albert Hall, to establish and develop wellbeing committees and strategies. Laura co-founded the UK National Arts Wellbeing Collective, a platform for organisations and individuals within the Arts, Heritage, Cultural and Production industries to find wellbeing resources and support. http://www.lauraletterslife.com
I’m Daisy, the Visual Arts Producer for CPP Hounslow, Watermans’ major outreach programme in the borough of Hounslow.
I work with an Exhibitions Group, which includes a group of local people and library staff, supporting them to curate a programme of exhibitions and events in Hounslow’s Libraries and a network of Community Café Galleries.
Our aim is to support new spaces to show original and contemporary Visual Arts in Hounslow, with the community in the driving seat, and CPP Hounslow staff like myself to support and bring ideas to fruition.
Since our venues have mostly been closed during lockdown, we have put all our content online on this website, so you can now see our exhibitions, attend our events and join in with activities to try at home. We’re even holding our curatorial panel meetings online so our programme is in continuous development, with plans underway for our 2021 exhibitions already.
Our exhibitions are really varied, covering all sorts of themes and topics, designed to challenge, surprise and inspire our local communities. We have worked with world renowned dance company Akademi on an exhibition of photographs documenting their amazing production The Troth. We have also worked with artists who are locally based, including Rehmat Rayatt on an exhibition titled Music and Me, a series of photographic portraits of Hounslow musicians, and Gerald Curtis on an exhibition of painting titled Regeneration on Hounslow Heath.
A project I particularly liked was one where we engaged local people in The Memory Library with Marie Klimis. The Memory Library features stories from members of the community about their personal experiences of living in Hounslow over the decades, as well as a series of works by illustrator Aleesha Nandhra called Neighbourhood Tastes exploring food and culture.
We also have some exciting projects in development that will launch later in 2020, including Animal Stories an exhibition of new historical stories about animals in the borough of Hounslow, researched by Alistair Cartwright and brought to life through stop motion animation by Amber Cooper Davies, artists chosen by the local curatorial group. We’re also working with local illustrator Laura Edralin, on a project called Hounslow’s Hidden Heroes, celebrating the extraordinary people who live and work in the community.
During the Lockdown, we’ve focussed more of our work on the impact of Covid-19, and we are working in collaboration with University of West London BA (Hons) Photography students on an online exhibition titled HOME, and a project called How do we Adapt? looking at creative ways people are adapting their usual activities when they can’t do what they would normally.
There are also public events (currently online) to accompany our exhibition programme. You can watch extracts of our recent Meet the Artist events HERE.
We’ll be holding more events soon, so keep an eye out for what’s coming up!
Lastly, there are lots of ways to get involved with the Visual Arts Programme, from our activities to do at home, to sending in your suggestions for exhibitions, or even joining the curatorial panel. So please do visit the Join In section of the website, and enjoy!