In 2013 I undertook a project at the School of Advanced Study funded by the AHRC’s Cultural Engagement Fund pilot scheme. The idea was to create a programme of events for the Bloomsbury Festival in October of that year that would leave a significant legacy, and to help the School to reassess its place in relation to the cultures, histories and communities of Bloomsbury. The programme of events was eventually themed around the idea of a ‘Ministry of Communication’. This played upon the history of Senate House, where the School is based. Built as the administrative headquarters of the University of London, Senate House was also home to the Ministry of Information during World War II, and was the inspiration for George Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ in 1984. My programme intended to both subvert the building’s history and celebrate its current use.
- An ‘Orwellian Garden’ constructed in front of Senate House reclaiming the forbidding space outside the building with creeping ivy, succulents, and vegetation.
- Small Global: Extreme Energy – an Arts Council England funded audio-visual collaboration between the Human Rights Consortium and pioneering art collective D-Fuse, which intended to bring to life issues surrounding shale-gas fracking and oil extraction from tar sands.
- The Traceur’s Eye – On the roofs of the University of London, from the Brutalist concrete of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies to the Portland stone of Holden’s Senate House itself, we commissioned parkour athletes, photographers and filmmakers to explore new ways to make use of the urban fabric of the city.
The programme also featured talks by:
- Andrew Motion
- Ruth Padel
- Will Self
- Iain Sinclair
- D.J. Taylor.