JarSquad Summer sessions gave JarSquad dedicated time to reflect, and collaborate with community partners to explore how our assemblies and activities might be extended to those not usually in attendance. We partnered with Nudge Community Builders, Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council (PDREC); established new connections with TimebankSW, and Diversity Business Incubator, and will continue to nurture budding relationships with Plymouth Hope, Omnium Radio, Cliik Community.
It’s been useful for us to think through how the notions of invitation, hospitality, relationship building and radical administration as critical to our artistic practice, and how these function practically within our feral business/social enterprise. Sally Fort (evaluator) was helpful in her observation that we, the artists were partnering with JarSquad (the project/organization/business/community), and this led to deep and meaningful conversations with our initial partners Nudge, on what it means to take policy from paper into practice, and into our relationships with individuals and other organizations we interact with.
We also reflected on the types of necessary code-switching (adapting language, gestures, speech, tasks, events, and recipes in our case) required in social art, and how we learn even from less than desired outcomes. Our initial proposal of creating men’s and women’s sessions was partially successful: we were able to deepen our relationship with attendees from PDREC; and although our other partners for the men’s group did not pan out in ways we’d hoped – we engaged other individuals in our immediate surroundings who attended these sessions.
The sessions also produced good conversations around the gendered nature of the work of food preservation, and what it means to serve participants who are gender non-conforming. Furthermore, the circumstances we set up in these commissioned sessions (intentionally attending to gender and culture), we were able to reflexively observe our own interactions with participants, noting how we learn from and represent our own cultural and gender identities.
“with it being 2021, and there seeming to be a push for things to be learnt off YouTube, JarSquad gave me the opportunity to learn something fo realsies, and not just in a virtual realm. We’re bumbling around and not always given a chance to learn something in an educational way. We’re gonna need to learn how to make jams and preservations for our survivalism, you know?” -- Tom
JarSquad is one of six commissions as part of AHRC funded project SAFEDI (Social Art for Equality Diversity and Inclusion). SAFEDI is an AHRC fellowship led by Manchester Metropolitan University, Social Art Network, & Axis, working with social artists, marginalised communities and policy makers around the UK to rethink what inclusion in the arts means.
1. A portable chalkboard with the words "JARSQUAD, WHAT"S COOKING?" to show participants what different preparations they can get involved with during the session. We see that Fruit leathers are being cooked and dehydrated, crabapples are in the slow cooker; brown sauce, banana ketchup, and HOT HOT HOT sauce are being made and bottled. Image Credit: JarSquad
2. A close-up photograph of two jars of pickle. The labels read 'Ethapazham Achar Date Pickle' and 'Khajur Ka Achar Date Pickle'. Image Credit: Vanessa Crosse
3. Two men, seated at a table, are helping with JarSquad prep. The man in the pink shirt is smiling broadly, surrounded by bowls of crabapples. The other man in a black hoodie is focussed on peeling a large rhubarb stalk. Image Credit: JarSquad
4. Two men, standing and wearing fetching aprons are helping with cookery. The man in the foreground is pushing crabapple pulp through a sieve into a metal pot; the man in the background is carefully tending to the making of crabapple chilli jelly in a large metal pot on a portable stove. Image Credit: JarSquad