VA Alumnus and The Public Treasure

West Dean College Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Alumnus, Jill Laudet, is currently staging a series of installations and events during the Wandsworth Arts Fringe 2018. The Putney Project asks how art making can engage with socio-political issues, or re-frame ideas and aspirations to prompt reflection on how things could be different? How can contemporary art reach a wider, non-traditional audience? For Jill, these questions are endlessly challenging. Her inspiration has included voices from the past who imagined a more equitable world based on different guiding principles, and whose ideas seem timely.

The Putney Project resulted from previous work on parliamentary sovereignty inspired by the aspirations of the Levellers recorded in the transcript of the Putney Debates, 1647. A call to action from 1647 became the starting point for a new work: Take an Exact Account of the Public Treasure. This resonated with recent events such as failure of outsourcing, crises in public services, lack of social housing and the debate about alternatives such as George Monbiot's Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis and The Right to the City: A Verso Report.

For Jill it seemed appropriate to present such a work at the site of the Putney Debates, at St Mary's Church. Her approach to the church was successful and has resulted in an installation being developed for an archway space under Putney Bridge for May 2018, coinciding with Wandsworth Arts Fringe.

This association encouraged Jill focus on the locality, researching its history in the public library and through online resources (such as the blog 'Municipal Dreams, Architects for Social Housing') and, most importantly, long walks with a camera all over the borough, looking for the public treasure. The ensuing research was extremely rich and provided Jill with lots of ideas for future work. The installation presents texts in banner form, as well as collated imagery in posters, videos and prints. Two banners will also be in Fringe Arts Bath between 25 May and 10 June 2018 and it is hoped that a similar sense of urgency and opportunity for reflection will form part of the drop-in Banner Making Workshop Jill is co-organising at West Dean on the 26th May 2018.