Celebrating Chartism

Celebrating Chartism
Public Art Plan and Artist in Residency

Artist: Laura Sorvala

Client: The Chartist Commission (Chaired by Rosemary Butler)

Location: Newport, South Wales

Services: Strategy Development

Completed: 2016

Studio Response was commissioned by The Chartist Commission to identify ways of celebrating and developing recognition of the 1839 Chartist Rising in Newport and its contribution to contemporary democratic processes in the United Kingdom. The resulting Public Art Plan outlined a series of arts and social engagement activities, including the commissioning of an artist residency with Laura Sorvala.

Based on Professor Chris Williams’ work (now head of College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences at University College, Cork) on how the central values of the Chartist Movement can be expressed for the twenty-first century, Sorvala hosted a series of pop up events and invited the public to consider ideas of democracy, equality, dignity, participation, community, co-operation and vision. To document the project and bring together the different viewpoints shared and complex connections made, Sorvala illustrated a comic booklet in a nod towards cartoons as tools for political commentary. The work was exhibited at The Project Space, Newport and the findings contributed towards the Public Art Plan for the Chartist Commission.