‘If we women walk in synergy’: visual notes from activist women in Bradford


Some visual notes made from  ‘International Activism‘ an event I attended recently in Bradford, the first public event hosted by the new Speakers’ Corner Collective ‘a social space co-run by women and young girls from Bradford and it’s surrounding areas’.

The event featured  four women who all spoke incredibly powerfully and eloquently about their activist activities: Sasha Bhat from Kashmir Solidarity MovementSamayya Afzal who spoke about the recent Bradford Vigil for Aleppo with the Syrian Association of Yorkshire , Jane Gregory from Bradford Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Kongosi Mussanzi from Bradford Congo Campaign.  Samayya Afzal commented afterwards that ‘the solidarity between everyone and the causes was amazing’. It really was.

I’m looking for ways to both reflect on, and document the words I hear from people who are trying to make change in a very difficult world. Rather than leave the words I wrote down from these inspiring women in my notebook, where only I see them, I have made them into a collage in a sketchbook,  and am sharing them in the hope they inspire others as much as they did me, and help in a small way to help build the solidarity we need to in these incredibly challenging times.


Things I Found Out Walking Today

TIFW 2 sept 2015

Things I Found Out Walking Today: Wednesday 2nd September

Objects Found:
Fragment of orange balloon with string; leaf; pink petal; pine branch leavings; yellow painted stones (2); white feather; pink foam fragments (3)

Time: 10.30am
Walk: Cross Roads to Cullingworth via The Big Houses
Weather: Sunny, getting warmer
Mood: Preoccupied

Haven’t done this for a while, almost 6 months. Maybe it’s because things are uncertain, as they were then. Maybe it’s a way of distracting or grounding myself, by concentrating on the walk and the things I find.

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Wur Bradford

A short film about Wur Bradford, an art and social space I’m currently running in a stall in Bradford’s Kirkgate Market. The project aims to explore how through imagination, creativity and community we might we able t make our city better.
The film was made by the wonderful Jenny Eells from My Bradford, and really gives a flavour of the people and activities involved in the space over the past 3 months.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the film, and to all who come and get involved, and make the project so vibrant. We are looking at ways which we can continue the project beyond September – watch this space!

More about Wur Bradford on the dedicated blog here

Grateful thanks also to the lovely people at Two28, Bradford Council and Bradford Markets for their generous and ongoing support of the project

Wur Bradford

everybody is creative

Wur Bradford is an art and social space in a market stall in Kirkgate Market to explore how we can make our city better through imagination and collective action.

wur bradford entrance

This project was inspired by two weeks I spent in Oastler Market last summer during which many unexpected acts of creativity and reciprocity happened: an impromptu gallery sprung up, which people visited daily to contribute artwork. People took images from, and added to the collage table. Endla, a 90 year old Slovakian lady, brought bags of food for the Bradford Metropolitan Foodbank donations box, which became full within days. Informal exchanges, collaborations and skill shares happened; Graeme, a self-described ‘outsider artist’ brought art books to share, Elaine stopped to show us how to make a triangle book, members of Grow Bradford ran a stall on food foraging; a JRF researcher came to share her social action research on loneliness, and people from Peace Studies at Bradford University came to share conversation and ideas. Many people came in to tell stories of themselves, their families and their communities, many of them very personal and poignant. These can be seen on the project blog .https://wuratoastlermarket.wordpress.com and in a specially produced zine (hand made magazine).

The aim of Wur Bradford is to continue and develop these kinds of things, and to explore how through imagination and connecting we might be able to make positive change. Wur Bradford is an open space for people to come and chat, get creative, share stories and ideas, and meet others. There is no remit or outcomes for what happens – it depends who comes in and gets involved. Everyone – individuals and groups – are welcome to visit, get involved and also suggest things that could happen.

where is your bradford?
The Wur Bradford stall is at the back of Kirkgate Market, opposite Home From Home cafe and is open every Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-4 pm. It can be open at other time, if you can’t visit on these days – just get in touch with me at Jeanmariemcewan@gmail.com to arrange.

There is a dedicated blog for Wur Blog at https://wurbradford.wordpress.com where you can follow on what has been happening in the stall.

We have a food collections box for Bradford Metropolitan Foodbank in the stall, in which we are collecting donations of any non-perishable food items (more information on what to donate here ). If you are able to bring a donation when you visit, that would be amazing.

Wur Bradford was made possible by Two28, Bradford Markets and Bradford Council. Grateful thanks their generous support.

WE ARE ALIVE AGAIN: experimental sets

WE ARE ALIVE AGAIN, work in progress, 2015, Jean McEwan

experimental set
Inspired by a recent visit to the V & A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, I’ve been working with incorporating books into temporary dioramas or sets. This is part of WE ARE ALIVE AGAIN, an onging project which uses family photography as a starting point for telling, making and sharing stories.
These are some test sets I’ve been trying out which combine books, collage and cut outs.

Wur at Oastler Market in Bradford – a residency and collaboration

7th – 18th July 2014

collage table


‘Wur’ in Scots means two things: ‘we are’ and  ‘our’

What is the relationship between’ I’ and ‘we’?
Can creativity connect and empower us?

I’m interested (among other things) in ideas of identity,  community and exchange. From 7th – 18th July I will be resident at Oastler Market in Bradford, inviting market users to collaborate with me to explore these questions through creative play and conversation, in a collaborative period of research.

Wur will attempt to be an active laboratory for collective enquiry – a  common space for all to explore and share creativity, knowledge and experiences. Everything done there will be collectively owned by all who take part.
Over a fortnight I’ll  host a wide range of creative and social activities in  Wur space, including exploring stories and memories with personal and family photographs through collage and assemblage, making self-published zines, gift actions and conversations.

This is an open invitation to join me in  Wur space.  Drop in for as long or short a time as you like, each week day between 11am and 3pm; or if you have an idea for an activity or conversation you’d like to do or try out, get in touch with me at  Jeanmariemcewan@gmail.com.  Activities will change each day, and a diverse group of people coming in to play and contribute. All are welcome.

A zine documenting these activities will be produced and circulated freely to market users following the residency.

The idea for this residency grew out of ‘Wur blog’ ) a collective multi-author blog about gift, exchange and generosity which I set up in 2012.

To find out more about the ideas behind the project and to follow the residency as it develops, visit the the microblog at http://wuratoastlermarket.wordpress.com/

Grateful thanks to Bradford Metropolitan Council and Bradford Markets for supporting the project.