Retrospective: Circuit Affinity Collabor-8

Photo, Art and Design contributor looks back at an exciting weekend of art and music at Nottingham’s own Contemporary gallery.

Photo by Leah Wareham
Photo by Leah Wareham

Circuit, an organisation funded by Tate and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is a nationwide programme spread across 8 cities in which 15-25 year olds are encouraged to get involved as a collective to positively engage in the arts. The idea came off the back of the London riots in 2011 in which the youth of Britain were negatively portrayed.  Circuit and Collabor-8 aims to destroy this perception of Britain’s young people, which was beautifully done last weekend by Nottingham’s Collabor-8’s group of talented young people with  Nottingham Contemporary’s Affinity Festival.

Collabor-8 is a chance for the young people to come together, consisting of monthly socials at the Nottingham Contemporary on the last Saturday  of every month, with a workshop on Friday nights.

As a part of the 4 year programme that Circuit funds, one requirement is that they have to organise a festival. Put together entirely by 15-25 year olds, Affinity festival was a chance to showcase the talent of young people from Nottingham and further afield. Beginning on Friday and finishing on Saturday, Affinity boasted various different rooms within the Contemporary, full of live music, art workshops, film, live performances, free food and much more!

The festival was created to complement the exhibition on at the Contemporary at the minute, Alien Encounters which focuses around the theme of Identity.  The Collabor-8 collective wanted to create a festival which brought in a wider audience and promotes Nottingham Contemporary as a place for everyone, not just the traditionally ‘arty types’. From the minute I got my glittery festival band and information lanyard packed full of events I knew I was in for an amazing time.

Photo by Leah Wareham
Photo by Leah Wareham

Each room at the festival had a different theme. The cafe bar had an art deco theme and hosted a variety of different activities and events. On Friday, Henna artist Ella Sisso, tattooed any geometric design you fancied for free, so I obviously jumped at the chance. On Saturday there was something called an evaluation booth where you were invited to talk to artist Sian about what you enjoyed most about the festival whilst she drew your portrait! Amongst all of this was live music performances and spoken word poets.

The Space, very fitting to its name had a space theme, with fibrotic and alien table displays. This area hosted many different live acts, including MOBO nominee headliner Lady Leshurr, Bully and Nadine Shah as well as intimate showcases from spoken word performers such as Mouthy Poets and dance troupes including Origin.

The studio’s theme was Egyptian and in there were interactive artistic workshops including a light up jewellery making workshop by Alexandra Milne. As well as this there was Sophie Bard with illustration and Kashif Nadim Chaudry, a textile artist.

The cinema had an Arabian nights theme, with coloured fabric draped from the ceiling throughout the corridor up to the room. There were many films on, including This is England and Where the Wild Things Are as well as short films created by young people from a short film competition with the theme of Identity.

Throughout the festival were many artworks by the talented collective themselves, one artwork in particular that worked really well was the creativity rating scale, designed by a member of the collective, which invited you to stick a star onto the glass window showing how creative you felt in that moment.

I was incredibly impressed by the festival as a whole and the very fact that it was organised by young people makes it all the more impressive, really illustrating the original idea behind the Circuit programme that young people are capable of amazing things.  My particular highlights of the festival were MOBO nominee  headliner Lady Leshurr, spoken word poet Raphael Blake (if you haven’t ever heard of his work, check out Ctrl, Alt, Del on YouTube!) and finally the evaluation booth as I got to take away a little memento of the festival which was a really lovely touch!

All in all a really amazing festival that successfully conveyed the important themes of identity and belonging.