Belief and Conflict in the UK

Urban Dialogues worked with the Cultural Institute at King’s College London to host a series of creative salons bringing together artists, academics, community leaders & activists to explore the role of the arts in our understanding of conflict and belief.


"In the current social and political climate in the UK, where debates about faith and cultural identity often become highly polarised, creating more fruitful spaces for discussions around belief and conflict is more urgent than ever. By looking at belief and conflict through the lens of Art, we hope to make a positive contribution to this debate."

Katherine Bond, Director, Cultural Institute at King’s College London


As part of the salon series, participants were invited to submit proposals for collaborative artistic works and seed funding was awarded to selected submissions. Four collaborative, challenging and interdisciplinary projects were born out of the salons and have been funded.


The four collaborations involve a diverse team who will work collectively to develop their proposals into concrete outputs, including performance workshops, digital and physical installations, audio and video testimonies and on-line spaces that aim to provoke diverse audience responses. All four of the projects recognise that artists are often uniquely able to carve out an alternative space for reflection, imagination and discussion when faced with entrenched fault lines of opinion, belief, and practice.


The four seed funded projects are:


Burning Bush

Ansuman Biswas (Artist), Prof Ben Quash (KCL), William Taylor (Priest, City of London councillor)

Burning Bush aims to explore the relationship between “the poetic” and the “the political” in relation to particular ‘brightfield sites’ – places that surprise and stimulate new visions and create solidarities within communities.

The project will create an online space to provoke and collate diverse responses to ‘brightfield’ sites and will curate a programme of interactive events including audio tours of these sites of meaning.


Reverberations of Conflict: Syrian Voices in London

Prof Michael Kerr (KCL), Dr Aaron Rosen (KCL), Kai-Oi Joyce Yung (Artist)

This collaboration, between King’s academics and an interdisciplinary artist, will explore the lived experiences and personal narratives of the ongoing Syrian civil war from the overlooked but invaluable perspective of Syrians living here in the UK.

Offering a tangible and empathetic point of access to the atrocities, bloodshed and ongoing destruction in Syria, the project will focus on individual experiences captured through a

perceptive and sensitive programme of contemporary practice and dialogue. Reverberations of Conflict will discuss the nature of the uprising and the difficulty of peace in the area, connecting the wider public to those affected by a civil war that has torn Syrian society apart.


Through a Wall

Alinah Azadeh (Artist), Dr Craig Larkin (KCL) and Paula Serafini (KCL)

Through a Wall will see the creation of a new collection that will take physical residence in an overtly public space. The collaborators will ask the public to go beyond their comfort zones, to climb into the skin of a stranger and uncover a co-created archive of material from across the world.

The project will centre on a large-scale ‘Wall’ installation; embedded with a collection of texts and objects created through direct work with community groups. Once full, the Wall will then inspire a collective performance, before the public are invited to ‘un-make’ the wall – taking a piece away to keep, until nothing is left, in a collective act of symbolic deconstruction and dissemination.


Empathy and Risk

Prof David Cotterrell (Sheffield Hallam University), Rebecca Manley (Actor, writer and director), Penelope Quinton (KCL)

This project will develop the foundation for a major art and performance piece through a series of workshops, led in collaboration with an actress, director, artist, academic and a King’s PhD student.

The themes of empathy and risk will be tested through a discursive and practical series of workshops involving three professional dancers and two professional actors. There will also be a focused discussion and a conceptual response to extracts of footage, interviews and observations gathered through research undertaken within sites of conflict, risk and tension in the UK, Palestine, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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