announced the winner of its fourth annual £50,000 participatory art award, the largest in the UK. The award gives artists who live in the 2012 Olympic host boroughs an opportunity to deliver a public art commission by engaging local residents.
From May to July this year, artist Ruth Ewan will work with a group of creative mentors and invite more than 200 young people from across east London to create The Liberties of the Savoy, drawing inspiration from events that took place in 14th century London. In July, young people from across the six Olympic host boroughs will travel to The Savoys Lancaster Ballroom to create a unique event inspired by the Peasants Revolt of 1381.
Throughout the planning and execution of what promises to be a spectacular event, the young participants will be responsible for every aspect of the project including the menu, music, performance, design and transport. They will be temporarily granted Liberties of the Savoy. As well as developing key practical skills, participants will be invited to reflect on a key moment in the Capitals history. The aspirational and motivational aspects of this project are all the more significant given todays current high levels of youth unemployment and the need for greater social mobility.
Ruth, a Scottish artist based in London, is known for creating context or site-specific art projects which highlight the continued relevance of particular hidden historic moments to the present. She works with collaborators and participants to realise her projects, which are often grounded in focused research into the social and political history of the site in which they are based. In line with CREATEs ethos, the artwork will involve active participation by young people who live in Londons Olympic boroughs.
Ruth said: The idea for Liberties of the Savoy came from a number of places including a folk song called The Cutty Wren which talks of the 14th century Revolt. The site of The Savoy is key to the project. I want Liberties of the Savoy to create a unique situation, all be it for one afternoon, in which the participants are unrestricted in their desire and ambition, where they can temporarily experience liberty of sorts.
The project is produced by Frieze Foundation and presented as part of Frieze Projects East. The Liberties of the Savoy project is supported by The Savoy. The CREATE Art Award has been sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch since 2008. Last year's winner Folly for Flyover attracted more than 30,000 people to a disused underpass in Hackney Wick, and involved local people building a huge wooden cinema underneath the A12 on the fringes of the Olympic Park.
Inspire, empower and educate
Each group of young people will focus on an element of the final event, such as menus, live music, performance, design, transport, visuals and film / photography. Guided by their mentors who include a music promoter, The Savoys pastry chef, a graphic designer, an historian, a transport expert, youth workers and artists each youth group or class will manage their own budget and be responsible for delivering their own aspect of the project. Throughout the workshops the groups will work with Ruth to discuss and develop their ideas. The mentors will encourage the young participants at all times to be engaged with, construct, control and take part in the final event.
The young people will be drawn from schools, youth clubs and community centres from all over east London and will range in age from 11-16 years of age. The creative process and event will be recorded and turned into a documentary and publication, created in collaboration with the participants. The latter will include menus, photographs, interviews and text. Alongside this rich creative history, archival images, maps and information on the Precinct of the Savoy there will be timelines and statistical information on social and economic mobility in London from Medieval times to the present day.
Hadrian Garrard, Director of CREATE, said: "Ruth is an artist who lives in Walthamstow and has shown real commitment in working with local people and including them in her practice in bold and meaningful ways. We are delighted to be working with her on this year's award."
Ruth Ewan (b.1980, Aberdeen) is a British artist based in London. By working with popular forms of expression such as memorable songs or protest imagery, Ewan explores the circulation of ideologies drawing attention to the ways in which we encounter political ideas. She often works with groups or individuals to realise projects, for Did you kiss the foot that kicked you? (2007), she coordinated over one hundred buskers in an unannounced performance across London where they performed Ballad of Accounting written in 1964 by the MI5 monitored, radical singer Ewan MacColl.
Selected solo exhibitions include: Music Without Masters, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2012); The Glasgow Schools, Glasgow International (2012); Brank & Heckle, Dundee Contemporary Arts (2011); Did you kiss the foot that kicked you? Artangel (2007); and Psittaciformes: Trying to Change the World, The Embassy Gallery and Studio Voltaire (2005-6). Selected group exhibitions include: A Million Miles from Home: Folkestone Triennial, (2011); Younger than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009); Altermodern: Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2009); Nought to Sixty, ICA (2008)