New year, and the return of the Miniclick Soapbox talks in London. In 2016 we tried out the format of having 5 speakers in one evening, each doing very short sub-7min talks on any subject they like. The result was a fast-paced evening in the pub were the audience were bombarded with ideas and inspiration, before spending the rest of the evening at the bar chatting about it all.
This month, Soapbox returns with a New Year’s Resolution special, featuring Joshua Parker, Ameena Rojee, Maria Kapajeva, Sara Shamsavari, Christopher Bethell and Flora Maclean…
Thursday 26th Jan, 7pm. Free Entry at The People’s Park Tavern, London, E9 7BT.
“I am a London-based artist and graduate of the University of the West of England, currently working for a photographic publication. I am greatly intrigued by people, culture and the land we live on, because I come from a very mixed background – half-Spanish and half-Mauritian, and I was born in and grew up in South London! Because of this I experienced an incredible variety of different cultures and worlds as a child and still now as an adult, and it greatly influences me and my work today. My style is an engaged one; as a photographer I participate as well as observe, and I love to take part in new experiences and get fully involved. In addition to my work being very much a mixed bag, I also like to dip into the writing and curating side of things – I run of the land & us and I sometimes write for #Photography Magazine.”
Parker is clear: he is here to perform – in art and beyond; bringing a unique mix of passion and precision. This measured approach gives confidence to enable agile minds to look beyond the obvious, gaining an advantage for everyone to see.
Contemporary thinking operates at the forefront of Parker’s approach. Boldly exploring aspirational trends, schemes, and approaches of the contemporary world. Formally trained at Central Saint Martins in 2015 he evokes emotions expanding over several cross-dimensional outputs, with record views of over 28,000,000. Parker remains not only as an independent artist but a creator of dynamic collaborative hubs where it’s much more than marketing slogans and advertising straplines it becomes an interconnected web for creative development.
Maria Kapajeva is an artist from Estonia who works and lives in London. Her work has been shown internationally including the shows at One Fest Goa (India/2016), Brighton Photo Fringe (UK/2016), Tartu Art Museum (Estonia/2015), Auckland Photography Festival (New Zealand/2014) and Harn Art Museum (USA/2014). Maria’s dummy book ‘Reading Apocrypha’ was shortlisted for UNSEEN Dummy Award (Netherlands/2016) and selected for TOP 10 for Dummy Award at Riga Self-Publish (Latvia/2016).
Often Maria develops her work at various residencies. She was selected for Bridge Guard residency in Slovakia (2014), for FATHOM residency by Four Corners Film in London (2015) and for Narva Art Residency in Estonia (2016). She was awarded Gasworks & Triangle Network Fellowship to go to Kooshk Art Residency in Iran and participate in The Second International Artists’ Workshop organised by Rybon Art Center. Currently Maria works on a new commission ‘Culture Shifts’ for Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.
Her multicultural background drives her practice to mine a diverse spectrum of cultural identity and gender issues within historical and contemporary contexts. She works with stories and histories she finds in archival photographs, old family albums or on flea markets. She deals with political and social issues of the past and questions how they form the present of people, whose stories got forgotten or about to disappear. Using photography as a start point, Maria works with video and installations, which often contains of found objects or unique pieces she creates with photography, various printing or stitching techniques.
As a child, Bethell would often lie to people about where he was born. “Boston, Massachusetts,” he’d say.
The truth was far less exciting – no one was interested when he told them “Stockport, Cheshire”. That said, it wasn’t a complete fabrication as he is a dual-national, an American/English citizen. His Grandmother moved to Boston from Ireland in her twenties. There, she fell in love with his grandfather, Joseph “Joey” O’Donnell. Bethell never met Joey as he passed away when he was a baby. Bethell grew up romanticising and obsessing about Joey’s life and the country he lived, in to the point of developing a fantasy about his life. It was only in 2012 that Bethell learned the truth of his Grandfather’s life. Four years later, The Duke of Earl was made in reaction to Bethell’s first trip to America – a roadtrip from East to West, from Joey’s place of birth to where he is now laid to rest.
Sara Shamsavari is a British artist of Iranian heritage whose vibrant and emotive images explore and reinterpret identity and address current social and cultural concerns. While each photographic series has a distinct focus, together, they all seek to encourage the ideals of non-judgement, equality, unity in diversity and collective responsibility.
Sara is described as “energetic and forceful…weighed with conviction” (The Guardian) with “the rare gift of capturing how the light strikes a face to illuminate hope” (Aesthetica), her work as “unflinchingly honest portraits” (Brownbook UAE),“revealing a unique empathy with her subjects”(i-D).
Born in Tehran in the midst of the Iranian revolution, Sara overcame childhood cancer while she and her family fled persecution. Being raised in London from the age of two inspired her exploration of identity, while surviving both the revolution and illness engendered a profound desire to make a difference through art.
Sara was educated at Camberwell School of Art and Design and the University of Westminster, producing work in a range of mediums including music, painting, photography and film, choosing photography as the first of her professional endeavours for its ability to create an instant bond between the artist and the outside world. She is currently undertaking an MA in Applied Imagination at Central Saint Martins.
Shamsavari’s work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, public and political spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), Museum of African Diaspora (San Francisco) Institute of Contemporary Art, City Hall and The Royal Festival Hall (London), Espace Pierre Cardin (Paris), Fondazione Biagiotti Progresso Arte (Florence) and Rush Arts Gallery (New York). Her work, exhibitions and profile have been featured multiple times across various media and publications including BBC1, ITN, SKY1, New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Elle, i-D and Dazed & Confused. Sara has delivered a number of artist talks internationally at cultural institutions including Tate Britain, Southbank Centre, MoCP and the Royal Institution of Great Britain as well guest lecturing at UAL, UCA, SOAS John Cabot (Rome) NYU ( Abu Dhabi) and Syracuse University.
With a belief that artists can be leaders in social and spiritual progress, Sara seeks to empower both participants and viewers with the endeavour to encourage a transformation in the way we view society and ourselves.
“I work within all genres of photography and am drawn to projects I feel emotionally connected to. Issues I feel need to be addressed or subjects I’d like to share with a wider audience. For Soapbox I will be showing images from my series Every Player Counts.
‘Floras series Every Player Counts documents the grit and spirit of womens grassroots football in the UK. She uses the subject of football has a effective platform for speaking about the wider prejudices that women experience.’
A friend pointed out to me that a lot of women’s history is lost because it’s not documented. I became aware of how important it is to photograph, write or record your experiences in some way. You never know what it will change in the future.”
Thursday 26th Jan, 7pm. Free Entry at The People’s Park Tavern, London, E9 7BT.