SPINE Festival – Introducing Brent Artist in Residence Jared Louche

SPINE Festival Artist in Residence for Brent, Jared Louche, tells us why he feels projects like SPINE are important, why he’s excited to be involved, and what he has in store for everyone at Harlesden Library.

I’m currently involved in SPINE Festival as Artist in Residence at Harlesden Library in the borough of Brent. I’m a poet, performer, rock star, writer, photographer and workshop facilitator. For the past fifteen years I’ve been working at the nexus of the Arts, Education and Health Care. I facilitate writing, art and performance workshops in schools, prisons, hospitals, museums and libraries, using creativity as a way to excite people to better command the language and their ideas. Creativity’s a thrilling tool of empowerment that helps people release their imaginations and express things they might never dare tackle and I love to help midwife that creation.

Books AreThis is an exciting and important project that highlights a collection of London libraries. With the explosive growth of the internet as a research tool, combined with extensive government cutbacks to library funding, libraries are currently fighting a battle to remain relevant in the 21st century. One of the things that I’m constantly fascinated by is creatively exploring people and buildings that are marginalized in society, those who (for whatever reasons) can’t tell their own story or whose stories aren’t seen as important by the society around them. We place value on the young, on the new, on the freshly rearranged. In doing so though, we seem to feel that importance can’t simultaneously be placed upon the elders of our communities, upon older buildings and older traditions. There’s much that’s lost because of this and many voices that are no longer heard, fading as mist before a too-bright sun.image4

Libraries are the perfect illustration of this; used less and less and valued less too, yet they are incredible places. Every library has gone through countless changes, alterations and renovations. They’ve survived threats of closure and wrestled with the recent, rapacious financial cutbacks. They’ve seen war and peace, busy times and slow, and down the years they’ve watched the community around them shift and change. Despite being the richest realm of words though, the one thing that no library has ever been able to do is to find its unique voice and tell the story of its life. No library has ever been able to tell us its experiences, what its greatest fear and proudest moment might have been or what it dreams about when the last librarian has locked up, the stacks are still and the lights are finally out. The only way to hear that hidden voice is with your creative ears.

At Harlesden I’ll be working creatively with a broad spectrum of the local community, developing stories from the library’s perspective as well as looking at language and books in alternative ways. We’ll be developing Haiku-brief image2epoems about secrets, and hiding them in books throughout the library. We’ll also be creating and binding our own books. I’ll be running workshops with groups from schools as well as in a much more guerrilla context with people who have come to borrow books and unwittingly wander into my orbit.

With children from local primary schools, I’m unleashing creative writing and creative thinking workshops to look differently at the amazing things the language can do. The ancient, universal language of poetry is the most phenomenal spade with which to dig into the loamy soil of image5language and ideas. This helps expose children to the delights their library contains and allows them to see the space as both useful as well as exciting. Although the project only just launched last week, we’ve had lots of excited school children writing and talking about the language, and the library staff have been inundated with gleeful waves of children clamouring for library cards.

This is exactly the sort of project I love being involved in; one that allows for broad conceptual interpretation, that pushes at the membrane between the Known and the Unknown, that involves both the local community and primary school children. Art may not change the world, but I’ve watched it change individual lives and I’m honoured to be able to be a part of SPINE.

Thanks Apples and Snakes. This is already an excellent project. As usual, you rock!

I’m currently reading:
Thelonius Monk – The Life And Times Of An American Original by Robin D G Kelley
At Day’s Close – (Night In Times Past) by A Roger Ekirch
And, for “fluff balance”… Joyland by Stephen King
All of these are borrowed from Harlesden Library except for At Day’s Close.

For details of all Jared’s upcoming Artist in Residence events at Harlesden Library visit his events page.

SPINE Festival is produced by Apples and Snakes in partnership with library authorities across London as part of Apples and Snakes’ work as an Associate Bridge organisation. For more information visit the SPINE project page or follow #SpineFestival.