Public art commission in Kingston upon Thames

The Brick Box are excited to be mentors in a new programme to support young visual artists working in the public realm.

Creative Youth has successfully secured funding from Arts Council England to commission four young visual artists working in the outdoor realm to produce bespoke, outdoor pieces to be on display for the duration of the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston upon Thames from the 8th – 17th July 2016 (with some of the works potentially being displayed in advance of the festival).

Creative Youth are seeking applications from young artists between the ages of 18 – 26 who are early in their careers working in the outdoor / public realm.

Four successful artists will each be given a fee of 2500.00 to create their artwork including all material costs, plus an additional budget of 500.00 for the installation and removal of the piece.

In addition each artist will be provided with a professional mentor – that’s where The Brick Box comes in! – with vast experience of working in the public realm who will help guide them through the development, creation and implementation of the work.

It is a condition of the commission to work with a class of thirty Yr5-6 primary school students for 4 x half day sessions in order to create an element of the work. Creative Youth will identify and liaise with the schools on behalf of the artists.

One artist will be selected once the work is on display and offered a place on our Creative Talent programme for one year, which provides year round mentorship and support to emerging artists and organisations.

Deadline for submissions 5.00pm on Monday 30th May

The full commission brief is available HERE

20 May 2016 | Share on Facebook or Twitter

Magic Moments

A Nations Theatre Festival is a two-month celebration of theatre from around the UK from April – May 2016. Venues across London are joining forces to shine a light on shows made by artists based in villages, towns and cities with wildly different backdrops and personalities that colour the work they make.

As well as loads of great shows (we saw Little Bulb’s Wail at Battersea Arts Centre the other week and loved it – go go go), the festival involves a series of live debates and The Brick Box have been asked to join in.

We will be hosting a conversation with Lyn Gardner at Leicester’s Curve Theatre on 15th May. We’ll be asking: what does theatre mean to you? What does theatre mean to Leicester? What does theatre mean to the nation?

We love to devise playful, theatrical spaces that encourage people to develop ideas, express themselves and create. So for this mission our approach will be to host and support a communal conversation that responds to the questions. Inspired by our many adventures around the UK producing performances with people from all walks of life, we will share a kaleidoscope of activities, all designed to discover and document the views of the people.

Through the medium of Pass the Parcel, a ‘Disco Demo’ and some inspired badge making, we will host all of the necessary (and bound to be intriguing) conversations. There will be plenty of opportunity for folk to have their say. People can be big and bold by joining the Demo and making their own glittering placard. They can be subtle and pin their opinion on a handy lapel. Or they can wrap it up in a parcel and join us with a rendition of the Okey Cokey. After all, that may be what it is all about…

If you would like to join the debate you can do any combination of these things:

1) Come to the UEL Emergence Festival in West Ham on 7th May where we will officially begin our Theatre Debate Disco Demo. Say it loud, say it proud, just make sure you say it with glitter!

2) Tweet us @thebrickbox using #anationstheatre

3) Turn up in Leicester on Sunday 15th May – more about the event here

4) Stand in a random street and shout about it

Check our Facebook Page and Twitter feed for further thoughts, musings and ramblings.

26 Apr 2016 | Share on Facebook or Twitter

Empowering Women’s Leadership

A guest blog post from Dr. Sharleene Bibbings on what we did for International Women’s Day 2016.

UN Women is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women in all walks of life. On 8 March 2016, the UN Women UK National Committee London Leadership team organised an event to celebrate International Womens Day (IWD). The event was hosted by the National Bah Centre in Knightsbridge. The theme of the night was Women Empowering Communities: The power of womens leadership at the grassroots, and the event featured three outstanding women who shared their leadership journeys and their work with local communities.

Dr Sharleene Bibbings opened the session. The IWD theme this year was pledge for parity. Sharleene talked about the research by Ernst and Young that shows that profitability, return on investment and innovation all increase when women are counted amongst the leadership. At least 50% of the worlds women are in paid employment, an increase from 40% in the 1990s, but there is still a pay gap. Globally, women earn 10-30% less than men for the same work. According to the World Economic forum it is estimated it will take until 2133, to achieve gender parity in the workplace globally.

There have, however, been many great achievements to celebrate, especially womens involvement in empowering the grassroots. Sharleene introduced the speakers who shared their leadership experience at the local level.

Eleanor Barrett and Rosie Freeman are Co-directors of The Brick Box, an arts organisation and social enterprise. Through The Brick Box, they create spaces which serve as social spaces for the local community to express themselves freely. Their previous projects include The Electric Fireside, Thamesmead, and A13 Green, all of which see the local residents take ownership of the space to co-create artwork for the community. Eleanor and Rosie said: “It was a very empowering event to be part of”.

Stephanie Busari, founder and curator of TEDxBrixton, was inspired to start up a TEDx conference in her local community following the August 2011 riots. Within three years, TEDxBrixton has had 1600 attendees, 50 speakers, 80 volunteers, and 2 million video views. Stephanie ensures that the conferences are inclusive and truly representative of Brixton, embracing the diversity of the community. With her storytelling experience, the speakers are able to share their personal stories in memorable ways that strike a chord with the audience. Stephanie remarked: “Speaking at the event was very fulfilling as it was a lovely warm atmosphere. A wonderful way to celebrate international womens day”.

The event was really uplifting – a participant remarked that this was the best International Womens Day event she has been to. Eleanor and Stephanie shared that it was at their most vulnerable point in life when they were inspired to make a difference in society. Sharleene said womens leadership for her is about growing your ambition and changing the narrative. All agreed that showing up, collaborating, and providing support to others were crucial.

Indeed, womens leadership was strongly felt that evening – women representing various organisations from all walks of life got involved and found ways to collaborate through conversations with one another, just by attending this International Women’s Day celebration.

Wed like to extend our thanks to our amazing speakers, the dedicated volunteers who led the event and all those who attended to show their support!


31 Mar 2016 | Share on Facebook or Twitter

The Brick Box: proponents of Live Pop Art?

This is the first in an extremely sporadic series on how we think The Brick Box might relate to the Art world and how the Art world might relate to us. Written by Eleanor Barrett, Director of The Brick Box.


“An exhilarating snapshot in all its neon, vinyl, faux-leopard-skin glory”

“Fun, engaging, colourful, revelatory, opinionated, racy”

“Brash, Bold and Exciting”

Reading these reviews of the Pop Art exhibition which opened at Tate Modern on 17th September, The Brick Box instantly popped into my head. We are always looking for ways to describe the whys and the who fors of what we do and I wondered if Live Pop Art could be an interesting moniker to toy with.

Some pop art definitions from Warhol, and other seminal pop art folk:

“Employs aspects of mass culture such as mundane cultural objects”

‘Popular, transient, expendable”

“Witty, sex, gimmicky, glamourous”

“Optimistic, generous and naive”

“…celebrated objects and ideas that were not only familiar but also banal in content”

“Culture emerging from the masses themselves”

“Big business”

Some elements of these definitions would definitely describe our antics. Some not so much (big business?!) And we dont make visual art. Each Brick Box event is a one off interactive live experience we co-create with our audiences and together we take great delight in dancing rough shod all over the very idea of being commodified.

There are four key elements to our approach:


  • The Content

The Brick Box has a joyful smash and grab approach to taking whatever we fancy (culturally speaking that is, not from jewellery stores) and putting it wherever we feel like. Well happily mash up opera, toast, twerking zombies, tea leaf readings, plate smashing, rave, congas, cabaret, the okey cokey, pass the parcel, Elvis, pinball machines, sock puppet karaoke, Nigerian hair wraps, the Maypole, boxing, light up dance floors, chess, cardboard box sculpture, brass bands and UV discos to name a modest selection of past programme content. But is it Art?

If Art is a commodity or a way to define culture through the filter of recognised mediums of authority then probably not.

But if Art is a way to colour in social interaction, encourage people to let off their own creative steam and share inspiration for ways to understand and approach life, then yes I very much think that what we do is Art. And you can interchange Art with the word Magic as far as Im concerned. And Love for that matter.


Thamesmead Fete-21

Street Dance the Maypole at the Thamesmead Fete, May 2015.

  • The Location

As well as being cultural liberty takers we also revel in the power of juxtaposition. Art is much more exciting when its not where you expect it to be. We have produced our events in funeral parlours, flyovers, launderettes, greasy spoons, buses, car parks, goods lifts, dock sides, cobbled streets and sheds to name a selection of venues. As I write weve just returned from our latest project where we spent five nights on the trot in a loading bay. Not only does being completely out of context create a wonderful sense of excitement, it also means we have to rise to the many challenges of our locations which keeps us constantly on our toes.


A13 Green no.8

The Bikini Beach Band at the A13 Green in Canning Town, August 2015.

  • The People

Who is it all for? Well we find its a lot more fun to share Art with people who may not normally get a look in (sometimes because of where they live but more often than not because they have good reason to feel excluded) and who have plenty to say for themselves on the subject given half the chance. They also already have their own cultural scenes, formats and ways to express themselves creatively which we always respect and learn from. Its all about a social exchange and a shared experience. We bring things. Our audience bring things. We share them with each other. We have fun. We all learn stuff.

When we rolled into Bradford with our Electric Fireside to share it with Muslim mothers in Manningham, they embraced the co-created storytelling concept wholeheartedly (as well as the balloon modelling and cycle powered light up dancefloors) but afterwards also told us in no uncertain terms that if they curated it themselves (which we hope to sort out asap) theyd want an all Katy Perry playlist and a panto dame involved. Quite right too.


The Electric Fireside Manningham

The Electric Fireside in Bradford, October 2014.

  • The Irony

We cant be arsed with the irony.

This ensures that we have a completely clear head when the fun starts. We believe that the energy expended in delivering knowing nods and winks, arching eyebrows and staring down increasingly opaque post post-modern telescopic filters is better spent on unreconstructed dance moves and unfashionable enthusiasm. As a Northerner Ive just about got used to the prices in London (HOW much ?!??????) but Ill never understand the reticence to look like youre having fun in case it doesnt look cool. To be honest Id rather make a complete chuff of myself than look knowingly bored and ironic.

So, could what The Brick Box does be described as Live Pop Art?

You can be the judge of that. I’ll just leave you with a comment from one of our satisfied punters regarding the Toast Temple (in my view a fine example of Live Pop Art if ever there was one): “it’s like Duchamp on acid”.

Maybe the next in this sporadic series will be Surrealism and how we do that. But in the meantime I’ll leave you with a Live Pop Art mantra: Popularity! Conviviality! Solidarity!


The Toast Temple at Wandsworth Arts Festival, May 2014.

19 Nov 2015 | Share on Facebook or Twitter