Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Friday, 26 February 2010


My last day in Bangladesh was a slow and gentle one, time to reflect on the events and experiences of Bangladesh. I spent time sorting and packing, preparing to go on to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India for the second stage of the fellowship.
I briefly visited New Market to get some last minute things.
Whilst Thurle and I had been away in Srimongol it had rained in Dhaka and there was a heady and tropical heat.
The mango trees were pleased. The rain had washed their leaves. The water had prompted them to burst into colour and bud, ready to turn into juicy mangos.

In the evening Britto took over Owens and Lenas apartment and organised a party to welcome Elena back and say good bye to Thurle and I. It was good to see, say goodbye to and to be able to thank many of the people who had made our time so valuable and special in Bangladesh. My thanks to Britto, CRAC and all those I met for their welcome and generosity. Thurle will be staying a little longer and flying to India in 4 days time, I wish to see something of the Holi Festival in Gujarat, so am departing a few days earlier.

It was sad to leave, I have had an amazing time. There are some aspects of living in Dhaka and Bangladesh that are difficult to experience and comprehend and I had only seen a small part of the city and the country. It is a place of extremes; skill, craftsmanship, inventiveness, wealth, beauty, generosity, poverty, pollution......
I have learnt an immense amount and gained new personal insights into the country and culture.
I leave inspired and impressed by the energy and dynamic here. Bangladesh is a country and a people that have been through an immense amount of change in relatively recent history. Despite being battered by natural disasters and war, I come away with respect for an outward and foward looking people, resilient, resourceful, immensely proud, modest and protective of their culture, history and identity.
I feel that I have just started to find my feet with some of the threads of interest, the metal working and the woven metal artefacts are really exciting. I would like to research more and continue to explore and discover more of the bamboo weaving too. There are further places I would like to visit; the Chittagongs, the Sunderbans, and places I would like to visit again in more detail. Although I have only touched the surface here; the time at Owens, with Britto, with CRAC, at Dhamrai and with the people we have met, have helped me to get a little below the surface and to get a more 'embedded' sense of life here, I am very grateful. I'm leaving Bangladesh exhausted and visually saturated, but with a thirst to learn more.