Heritage & Culture

Metal: Meet the artist

Each year arts organisation Metal invites a number of artists into residence. The artists spend time in Peterborough undertaking research to inform new performances and art works. Working in the city, meeting people and exploring places, invariably ends up with the resulting art works being site specific or involving local residents. This month sees Metal introduce artist Aicha El Beloui…

1. Tell us a bit about you and your work
I am an illustrator from Casablanca, Morocco, but am currently working / studying in Oslo, Norway. As an illustrator, I try to represent cities and places through the eyes of its residents. I always start from an idea in the collective imagination. Experiencing the site is usually the second step, along with some research. And I finally wrap up the process by interviewing local people about their perception of the area. After having been through all those steps, I take things back home, and I put them together. The result is usually a subjective large-scale hand drawn map placed in the public space.

2. What ideas are you developing in Peterborough?
I am very curious about why Peterborough was recently named as being one of the worst cities in the UK to live. I am wondering what the locals think about this and how they perceive their city. Is this something they’d like to share or challenge? It is also interesting to get the young people’s perspective, as the lousy ranking was due to having the fewest outstanding rated schools in the country, something they are in the middle of.

3. What do you hope to achieve with your residency?
I want to use my time and connections in Peterborough to build an understanding of the city through its young people. We can easily find the reasons behind the ranking, but we know very little about what the actual residents think about their area, and how they view it. This is what I am interested in.

4. How can people in Peterborough get involved?
I am going to be in Peterborough for a week from the 6th to the 13th of November. There are going to be some workshops and a public presentation where everyone is welcome. If anyone is interested in sharing their perspectives, I am happy to meet up and hear about it. This is an initial visit but I will be back in the New Year for follow up visits.

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