06 / 12 / 12
Urban Dialogues Manager Holly Jones explains why she loved running this year’s Exhibition.
When we began to plan this year’s Urban Dialogues Exhibition in September, London was still basking in the glow of the Olympics. We felt that the way the Games brought people together in a celebration of diversity, talent and creativity was something that we wanted to build upon and to capture in this year’s programme.
We began with an embarrassment of riches – over 300 submissions from artists wanting to be part of this year’s exhibition, united in their exploration of themes surrounding faith, identity and belief. To help us meet the challenge of choosing pieces, we drew on the diverse insight and expertise of our selection panel – Aaron Rosen from King’s College London, Andrew Gwilliams from the White Cube Gallery, Laura Moffat from Art and ChristianityEnquiry, Catriona Robinson from London Borough of Faiths Network, and Roxane Zand from Sotheby’s.
Their collective wisdom and considered opinions were essential in helping us to put together a strong show. Despite the different backgrounds and interests of the panellists, there was often consensus about the selections
made, reinforcing the idea that Urban Dialogues has a spirit and an identity which transcends boundaries.
The addition of these individual submissions to the collaborative efforts of our Urban Dialogues Awards Winners created a show with myriad opportunities for stimulation and reflection. Nevertheless, as became increasingly apparent, Urban Dialogues is not simply about the art on the wall.
350 schoolchildren visited the show and threw themselves enthusiastically into our gallery trail, delighting us with their questions, and demonstrating the capacity of art to both open young minds and encourage engagement with concepts of difference and identity.
The public came too – over 1,100 of you in 10 days. There were old friends of 3FF along with many new faces. On Festival Night, more than 400 visitors enjoyed music, food, performance and an atmosphere that can only be described as electric. Our friends The People Speak brought their ‘Talkaoke’, facilitating fascinating cross-cultural, interfaith and inter-generational conversations around their doughnut-shaped table.
Day of Play saw adults and children alike delight in casting aside some of their inhibitions and knuckling down to some good old fashioned fun and games, led by an incredibly talented cast of young actors and creatives. At Female Voices, several generations of women came together for an evening of striking music and performance, and inspired discussion about the role of women in our communities.
It has been a rewarding, enriching, and heart-warming experience and we just don’t want it to end. So watch out for our Pop-Up Urban Dialogues events from the beginning of next year – it’s just too good a party to wait until next November! A huge thank you to all who made this year possible: the artists, our curator Rosie Parker, the fantastic team at 3FF, our partners, everyone at Red Gallery, and of course everyone who visited, without whom it would have been nothing at all.