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Isabel Lima Gresham’s Wooden Horse

29 June 2017 2:00 pm - 24 September 2017 4:00 pm


Image: Isabel Lima Gresham’s Wooden Horse, 2017

Gresham’s Wooden Horse is a project by artist Isabel Lima that brings together people from communities living in Gresham, central Middlesbrough. The project is inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the Trojan Horse, built by Greek soldiers as a means of infiltrating and taking control of the city of Troy. Lima uses this symbolism to stimulate a collaborative action among Gresham’s community.

Through a series of summer workshops led by Lima and her collaborators (including the artists TILT), a group of local people – Gresham residents from different cultural backgrounds – are building a wooden horse using the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art’s technical facilities.  Participants are learning new craft skills to create the work, and the work is presented around the museum as they are made.

On 24 September, the participants will parade the work from the museum to Gresham. This public unveiling aims to instigate conversations about lived experiences there. The sculpture’s location will then become the site of a month-long series of communal activities developed with local charities and informal community support networks.

Many of Gresham’s grids of terraced houses have been demolished or boarded up in recent years. Its population is diverse, including British workers and asylum seekers and this project is a way of discovering mutual commonalities within the communities.

Gresham’s Wooden Horse sets up an informal forum for cultural exchange. The project is a vehicle for residents of Gresham, old and new, to establish a sense of ownership of their neighbourhood, enabling a collective process of reimagining the area’s identity. 

Isabel Lima is a Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based artist. Gresham’s Wooden Horse is the second part of her series Broken Chords Can Sing a Little, commissioned by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, which calls upon classical mythology to examine questions of migration and nationality. It follows on from the 2016 film The Birds, which Lima created with Middlesbrough-based refugees and policy makers as a response to housing conditions endured by asylum seekers dispersed to Teesside.

Gresham’s Wooden Horse is commissioned by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. The project is supported by Arts Council England, Platforma Festival/Counterpoint Arts.


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