Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora

Green Spaces

Ikon and Living Well Consortium have collaborated to commission award winning, Birmingham-born artist Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora to create new work with communities in Erdington. Focusing on the impact and importance that Green Spaces play on mental health Dhaliwal-Boora has worked with a group of participants in Erdington to explore their personal connection to parks, gardens, urban green areas that have had an impact on them. 

The exhibition and publication includes new portraits of Alan, Jack, Jane, Hannah, Mary, Kayleigh and Melvin by the artist, alongside personal stories written by the seven workshop participants and their photographs taken on disposable cameras exploring Erdington. 

The commission with Living Well Consortium aims to raise awareness of, and engagement with, topics centred on mental health and wellbeing using the city’s green spaces as a backdrop to explore the benefits of nature to our health.  The exhibition will tour to grounded in Selly Oak, Birmingham – the first café of its kind in the West Midlands, designed with mindfulness at its heart. It is founded by leading mental health organisations, Living Well Consortium and Birmingham Mind, and funded by NHS England. This programme is supported by Living Well Consortium. 

This exhibition is presented as part of Ikon’s 60th anniversary year.

Exhibition: 12-23 June 2024 at Ikon Gallery

Launch event: Wed 12 June, 12.30 - 1.30pm

Collaborative workshop event with feeding chair resident Sally Butcher and Jaskirt: Thurs 13 June, 5-7pm

What do Green Spaces mean to us? How do we interact and engage with them in our daily lives?  We know that they are vital in lifting our mood, never more so since 2020, and increasingly as we live on our digital devices, this work aims to encourage and showcase the importance of the green spaces on our doorstep that can benefit our mental and physical wellbeing. 

And we are spoilt for choice when it comes to Birmingham’s well-known green areas, from Sutton Park to Moseley Bog. Yet it can be our encounters with the less celebrated spaces in our city that make life that fraction more pleasing on a daily basis, our gardens, allotments and hidden sports fields, the interventions of wildlife into urban areas like the work of the litter busters work in Erdington.

Alan Thompson (portrait by Jaskirt Dhaliwal Boora), photographs he took on a photo walk during the making of Green Spaces

"This work came at a time of personal upheaval for me, in December 2023 a loved one was sectioned for a mental health crisis and in January 2024 I had surgery on my dodgy left knee. When we originally planned Green Spaces in Autumn 2023 I didn’t expect either the surgery or my loved ones ill health. The work aided my physical recovery, whilst mentally it got me out of my house and out of my head by being creative again and making new work with people in Erdington. 

There were so many highlights, Mary sharing details of her cycle route from Marsh Hill Rec to Handsworth, Janes hopeful look to the heavens, Alans pure enthusiasm in photography, a moment to reflect on childhood memories with photography student Hannah, the poignant father daughter time between Kayleigh and Melvin and Jacks eager exploration of a new place as a geography student.    

A moment to reflect for them all and me."

- Jaskirt

"Green Spaces is a celebration of what it means for these 7 individuals to be from or discover Erdington anew, and how we can immerse ourselves in the environments that surround us to uplift and hold us, to piece us back together. 

Nature has a way to heal and calm the mind, the camera can be used as a tool to observe and treasure what’s around us, words can express how we feel. I’m glad for the opportunity to make this new work with Alan, Jack, Jane, Hannah, Mary, Kayleigh and Melvin." 

- Jaskirt

More on Green Spaces

Made over the course of 3 months, Green Spaces included a series of 3 workshops led by Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora at Erdington Library.  The workshops included photo walks in Rookery Park, and creative writing. The participants were also given 35mm disposable cameras for self initiated photo walks in between workshops and those are the images we see in the exhibition and publication. The portraits were taken in collaboration with Dhaliwal-Boora, each person choosing the place they felt best told their story of Green Spaces in Erdington.  

The workshops were supported by:

Amelia Hawkins (Green Spaces producer)

Regan Macdonald (Public Health Research Officer at Ikon Gallery)

Mengxiai and Hasna (information assistants at Ikon Gallery)

Becky and Simon (Walking Therapists from Living Well)

Sustainability has been considered in the making of the exhibition design, with photographs mounted on dispa eco boards and printed on PVC free vinyl, all recyclable material from Kaleidoscope printing.

There will be limited edition publication to accompany the exhibition made by DUSK books from 12 June 2024.

Acknowledgements


To all the workshop participants, thank you for sharing your stories and lives with me and being courageous in sharing it with the world too. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to get to know you in this short time. 

A big thank you to Leila from the Living Well Consortium for commissioning Green Spaces, it was great to first meet you at the exhibition for a place called home in Nov 2023 at West Bromwich Police Station. I hope the impact of the work raises the profile of access to mental health and well being and it breaks down barriers for people of what that encompasses. 

To Kerry, Pippa, Regan, Rebecca and the whole Ikon team thank you for all your support in the making of this work. Working with Ikon wasn’t something I ever thought was on my horizon, being from the city and an avid consumer of every show you put on, it has lived up to my expectations in the professionalism and support I have received working with you all. There has been a level of care and class that is a benchmark of how it should be to work in the arts. 

Lastly, a big thank you to Amelia for your support throughout the workshops and production of the exhibition. It has been a pleasure to work with someone who has approached every participant and part of this work with due respect and care. I will always remember after my knee surgery and before the workshops began, when you kindly offered to sort out an electric scooter for me to get about on! 

Green Spaces was exhibited in Ikon Gallery in June 2024, and tours to Grounded Café, Selly Oak. It  was commissioned by Living Well Consortium (2024).


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