- Friction Home
- Event bookings
- What we do
- Past Projects
- Studio Hire
- The Edge
- Contact Us
Friction Arts is led by artists and cultural activists Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths. Friction exist to engender change, to explore our strange, new world and to seek out new contexts and new possibilities to connect and inspire people through engagement with the arts. Our process is our practice and we never repeat a project, instead making everything we make and do relevant to the people, place and time it exists for. Since 1992 we have made literally hundreds of projects, experienced by hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. Friction’s work changes lives and perspectives and is always authentic and connective, finding ways to address the needs and concerns of the people it is made with and for.
We have no set artform, instead having developed a process that identifies what kind of approach is most appropriate to the context of the project. This process has enabled us to create an ever evolving pool of partners and collaborators, artists and other experts to help us create projects which are fit for purpose – the right art in the right place. So, we don’t make an artwork and then find a place for it, we find a place and then make an artwork for it instead.
We work with all kinds of people, from the hardest to reach and most vulnerable, to more traditional audiences for the arts. We have worked with groups as diverse as young men on electronic tag, Muslim women, allotment gardeners and Caribbean elders, in places as diverse as Tipton and Johannesburg. We are fearless in our approach and will go ‘where others fear to tread’ and are always prepared to take risks, personally and artistically to achieve the results we are aiming for. We are highly skilled at connecting and communicating with all kinds of people and have a highly developed emotional and social intelligence which gives us a unique ability to find out what people’s concerns are, and then to translate them in to high-quality artworks that remain true to the voices of the people who inspired them.
We work on projects that last for years, such as the Curio City Shop or ‘Echoes’ to ‘short hits’, one-day workshops and seminars or six-week residencies. Whatever the project the place or the timescale, Friction use their unique skills in listening and connecting to find the most appropriate way of achieving their aims.
Projects we have developed using our particular skills and approach:
- For an overlooked estate with a low income diverse community, surrounded by a concrete collar with issues around isolation, crime, loss of young people to violence and the criminal justice system we created the ‘Curio City Shop’. We converted an abandoned curry house in a semi derelict shopping centre into an arts centre. Overe three years we created over 25 projects, working at first with the young people on arts, dance and drama activities, we then brought their parents and other adults into the fold through ‘Growth Impact’ – creating a ‘hanging garden’ on the quad of the estate. We held community dinners where we ate produce grown by the residents and taught the young people to cook. We culminated our three-year residency with ‘Reality Estate’ – a large-scale performance where a 300 strong community choir sang a contemporary score containing and inspired by their words and stories back to the estate, accompanied by a series of performances by residents leading the audience around this ‘hidden gem’. Residents said that after our interventions the estate ‘felt safer’, they felt that they could now walk around safely at night and neighbours who hadn’t spoken to each other for twenty years regained their friendship. Young people we worked with went on to other arts-courses, apprenticeships and further education and training. Young mothers on the estate got into education (one has now qualified as a dance teacher and we sometimes employ her for our projects). We had to leave the shop in 2007, yet young people still come and volunteer at our projects and events (one thirteen year old we worked with is now old enough to come and work the bar at events – and does)
- We were commissioned by Visiting Arts and the British Council for a residency in inner-city Johannesburg, an area with the third highest murder rate in the world, to ‘map the biodiversity and cultural and environmental diversity of a square mile, hosted by Johannesburg Art Gallery. Working with two local artists we walked in places we were told not to, met all kinds of people and saw that a major issue was the isolation of the inner-city, populated by black Africans on very low or no income from the suburbs populated by the middle classes and white people. So through a series of playful interventions and activities, which included ‘begging’ a single flower from suburban gardens to decorate an outdoor boxing ring in dangerous Hillbrow, handing out freshly squeezed orange juice in return for stories, getting people to create maps of the inner city (including a huge one where ten people could walk around it at any one time), we created a group of ‘fans’ that would attend each of our weekly events. This culminated in a final event at JAG where the people from the suburbs who donated flowers met the people from the inner city and we all took a walk around Joubert Park, reclaiming it for people (the park is seen as a ‘no-go’ area for whites) before returning to the gallery for a celebration together. We worked with volunteers on the project who have since gone from being unemployed and living in squalor, to being employed and living in their own apartment. We connected groups who had not worked together before, like the environmental Greenhouse Project, with the Inner City Forum and changed the way that Johannesburg Art Gallery approaches its education and outreach.
We call ourselves Friction because we believe that friction creates energy and, metaphorically and in reality, nothing good comes without cost. So we like to think that out of Friction comes harmony. Or something.
Please look around for more information about who we are and what we do and don’t be afraid to get in contact – you’re very welcome.
Tweets"@jezc what a shame - and what a coincidence.... Yes see you on our return to discuss BITPO ( our blues party HLF work; part of BASS fest x"yesterday"@jezc how long u there for? We're in Sofia on Monday? Will u still be there? Xx sand, lee, si x"yesterday"@jezc we are going to Bulgaria right now!! Tho we're landing and heading straight up the mountain to Goatmilk fest.. Got a coupla hrs.."yesterday