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Rebecca Lindum Greene introduces a new online exhibition with The Museum of Cambridge

Jim Ede worked as the first modern art curator in the 1920’s & 30’s at the National Gallery of British Art, renamed in 1932 we now know it as Tate Britain. Poignantly, the building officially opened to the public in 1897, after a decision in 1892 had been taken to build the gallery on the site of Millbank Penitentiary, which had been pulled down in 1890. Located on the River Thames, the prison held convicts destined for Australia.

Considering the brilliant project by Empathy Artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala, who is working to make North Cambridge the most empathetic community in the UK through the Kettle’s Yard Open House Residency 2020/21, with her #CampaignForEmpathy. A recent article comes to mind, published in The Scotsman June 29th 2020:

“We’re all in this together. Are we though? This isn’t just a health pandemic, this is an economic and social pandemic. The cracks that appeared, appeared almost instantly. Those who were vulnerable or ‘just about’ getting by, were exposed to the fragmentation and disintegration of so many of the services and networks that were just about allowing them to survive and the result was, and is, terrible.” – Karyn McCluskey, Chief executive of Community Justice Scotland, reflecting on how the Covid-19 crisis has made it harder to ignore the damage caused by zero-hour contracts and the gig economy.

The article had been shared by Faith Spear FRSA, an Independent Criminologist who I have had the honour of meeting at the Institute of Criminology, where I have worked for the last thee years. Returning to the quote, McCluskey goes on:

Lockdown has not only exacerbated the most savage inequalities, it has also raised a magnifying glass to them”.

The Lockdown situation whilst it is being relaxed to a certain extent as I write this, (ironically?) Independence Day, July 4th for those celebrating in the USA, or just those now granted access to a Public House. Many of us wait with bated breath, anticipating the second spike in victims as a result of the silent predator, COVID-19.

This quote and many articles recently published have struck a real chord with me. Giving pause to reflect on Jim Ede and the hospital visits he made following the death of his wife Helen.

Lockdown is a term I am familiar with, even before the Virus struck, as I have had the unusual opportunity of working with people in the Criminal Justice System. A population of people, largely unseen, except by those who are close to them, or work with them. Drawing Connections …at the edges is a project inspired and informed by my work with the Learning Together project: convened in 2017 at a Low Risk, Category D prison in Buckinghamshire we brought Art Students from the Local College in to the prison to work alongside men through a series of Artist led sessions, encouraging personal growth and self esteem of all participants, especially those faced with re-entering society after years of separation.

It is truly, one of the most rewarding and inspirational projects I have ever had the privilege to work on and I am proud to now consider myself part of the Learning Together Community. I am really pleased and honoured to announce that I am working with The Museum of Cambridge, on their first Digital Exhibition, launching 15th July 2020. Where we will be reviewing the work of Drawing Connections …at the edges and considering ways we can Learn Together in this time of Lockdown.

As part of the exhibition launch we will be announcing ‘Operation Jackdraw’, a creative intervention inspired by the socially minded and inclusive work of our friend and colleague, the late Jack Merritt. We are inviting people to respond to the Digital Exhibition and make their own creative submissions for inclusion in a digital exhibition on The Museum of Cambridge Website, reflecting on Lockdown and how, or what it has made them see and feel.