Making Mischief!

Making Mischief!

Making Mischief is the first exhibition in the UK dedicated to folk costume, in all its variety. Made possible thanks to a £250,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, it presents outfits made, customised and worn by people who participate in local, seasonal customs practiced by diverse communities across the country – from the Notting Hill Carnival in London to the Festival of the Horse in Orkney. 

We also have an exciting contemporary arts public program which explores co-creation with communities through textiles and movement, thinking about performative walks, protest, banners and language, all of which disrupt our site through celebration, joy and agency. Continue reading to find out more.

Contemporary collaborative commissions

To coincide with this major folk costume exhibition, Compton Verney has commissioned visual artist Jane Thakoordin to co-produce a large-scale scheme for ‘dressing’ the façade of the historic house, co-designed and created with Saathi House.

There will also be a free two-day workshop during May Half term, with world class dance production company Motion House. These workshops will speak to the essence of community dances and movement, as well as performative walks and protest.

Participants of both these workshops will have unique opportunities to draw from our site, the skills of the facilitators and the forms of making and moving that are introduced to them.

The outcomes of the collaboration with Saathi House will adorn the exterior of the house for 6 -12 months and handmade pieces will be available to view in our permanent folk-art collection alongside a video work documenting the process and unveiling at Afterhours in May 2023. These will be available to view from the 10th June 2023.  

The artist Jane Thakoordin

“I firmly believe that “Art Changes People, and People Change the World” and for me, creativity can have a transformational impact on people’s lives. As my work is rooted in collaboration with others, I am often drawn to political and cultural issues that affect us and our relationship to the wider world. A recent project saw me working as artist in residence at a local bus depot, creating a banner in collaboration with bus drivers and staff, that contributed to a community wide celebration of the anniversary of the victorious Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963. The driver’s banner joined 7 others that I co-created with diverse groups across the city of Birmingham.

 I am a fan of “art utile” meaning art that has a purpose, and banners are a great way to get a message across and generate interest and spark curiosity. I have created banners with many organisations over the years, and later in 2023, I will be launching “The Protest Banner Lending Library UK”, an ongoing project that invites people to work with me to democratise protest by sharing handmade banners with whoever needs them.

As a textile artist, with a practice in participatory arts, I am really drawn to celebrating the involvement of people in the architecture and history of the building. As the exhibition is called “Making Mischief” it really speaks to my mischievous and risk-taking sides. I want to work with people with a connection to the place, to create work that is bold and raucous. Drawing on different senses, including noise, I plan to co-create work that will be impossible to ignore! I have created banners with many organisations and communities over the years inviting people to work with me to democratise protest by sharing handmade banners with whoever needs them.

Jane ThakoordinParticipatory Artist

Jane is a participatory artist which means that the work Jane creates is always in collaboration with others. A great fan of the bright, bold and beautiful, her practice is rooted in her Guyanese heritage, celebrating colour and texture in the work that she produces with groups and organisations both locally and regionally. Jane uses textiles, repurposed objects and upcycled “stuff” often donated by people who know her penchant for the eclectic and colourful. Jane draws on her professional experiences as a mental health practitioner to link creativity and wellbeing, and she encourages creative risk taking in all aspects of ways she works. She works collaboratively with, amongst others, people seeking asylum, community projects, schools and political organisations. Raised in a highly politicised family, Jane’s values thread through her work, and she regularly creates protest banners and art work for activist organisations across the region.

Saathi House

Saathi House is an anchor organisation that is committed to supporting women to drive positive change in their lives, in their family’s lives, and in the local communities.

Together, we are on a journey to engage, enable and empower women to improve their knowledge, skills, networks, opportunities and leadership potential.

‘Saathi’ means friendly companion, and reflects the ethos of the centre, a place where local people meet to complement each other.

Saathi House was established in 1977 in response to the emerging problems of immigration and new arrivals into the Ladywood area of Birmingham. Although no geographical limit is imposed on its activities, the Charity was originally established (as the Saint James Language Project) to address the extramural educational needs of younger members of the growing immigrant communities of Aston, Lozells and Perry Barr.

Compton Verney, Jane Thakoordin Workshop. Photographer, Tegen Kimbley-82
Compton Verney, Jane Thakoordin Workshop. Photographer, Tegen Kimbley

Saathi House is situated in Aston in the Ladywood constituency of Birmingham (one of the top 10 most deprived constituency nationally) with substantial pockets of multiple deprivation. Worklessness and unemployment are well above the city average with 40% of the population being classed as economically inactive. The percentage of ethnic minority residents is well above the city average. For 40% of the population, English is not their first language. The area has seen major civil unrest in 1981, 1985, 1991, 2005 and more recently 2011.

Saathi House have undertaken three workshops with artist Thakoordin to produce 12 individual banners and one large collaborative banner.

Compton Verney, Jane Thakoordin Workshop. Photographer, Tegen Kimbley