Last Saturday, we went to the Furtherfield Gallery in Finsbury Park to see the Superdiversity: Picturing Finsbury Park exhibition, which mapped out (literally) and brought together voices of the community.
But who better to explain what the exhibition is and what it’s about, than artist Katherine Stansfield? In this interview taken with her at the exhibition opening on Saturday, she speaks about what inspired her to create the exhibition with Furtherfield Gallery and her personal fave spots in Finsbury Park.
Naomi: So we’re here with Katherine Stansfield, an artist and researcher that has created the exhibition that we’re visiting at Furtherfield today. How do you describe what you do? We’ve heard different things, like Cultural Geographer, Artist, Researcher…
Katherine: That’s a good question; I think there are many different terms. I’d probably go with a cultural geographer, PhD researcher – I’m doing my research on the whole Finsbury park area – but I came from sociology and I also would call myself a photographer. So it’s kind of all these different labels. I’m doing a three-year PhD project, looking at Finsbury Park as a place, and as it’s a really diverse area, how people, different people, relate to the place and trying to understand that kind of difference and sameness, and how people live together.
Lamar: So, what was your inspiration behind this amazing exhibition?
Katherine: I suppose the inspiration was doing the PhD on Finsbury Park and I was working with local communities doing some photography, some video and making these maps (see pic) and it seemed that it would be really nice to display it in a way that the communities can come back and see it and feedback and create more of a dialogue. My university have links to Furtherfield gallery. I’m based at Royal Holloway University. It’s nice to do a collaboration and it’s all come together.
Lamar: You’ve kind of answered the next question, but what message are you trying to convey through this exhibition, what would you like people to take from this?
Katherine: I suppose I want people to engage with it and respond in their own way and that’s what I’m really intrigued about as a researcher – always interested in what people make of it. For me, I want to express that Finsbury Park means a lot of different things for different people, and just try to understand what that means really. It’s not just Finsbury Park, I think the whole of London, all cities around the world, are what we might say superdiverse. All different walks of life, not just race or ethnicity but in terms of gender, class, age. I’ve been trying to work with people in all these different groups. So, really my outcome would be for people to engage and start talking.
Naomi: You said something about sameness and difference, what do you mean by that?
Katherine: Yeah, that’s a good question because I don’t normally use that word sameness. I might say difference because I think everyone has differences – we all have different experiences, and we grow up differently. There are kind of similarities that are shared between people, and the acrylic maps that were created with different groups in Finsbury Park hint at that. Things that everyone might draw on the map are Finsbury Park – everyone knows what the park is – or they have these kinds of places, which everyone has some sort of understanding of. Even if those understandings are different they still have those shared places and I think those shared spaces where people can come together even if they are just passing each other is kind of important.
Morgan: Why did you choose Finsbury Park in particular?
Katherine: That’s also a really good question. I felt Finsbury Park had people from all walks of life. It’s one of those places you can’t quite pin down. There were also quite a lot of practical reasons, because Furtherfield were based here it seemed like it would be nice to collaborate with them. I grew up in North London, I’ve always loved Finsbury Park – I know it in some ways, in my own way. So I’ve just always loved it as a place so I think it really interested me to explore it more.
Morgan: What are your Finsbury Park highlights?
Katherine: I think the park for me will always hold a special place in my heart because I’ve always come to the park for many different reasons and it sort of allows lots of different people to hang out – it’s a free space. I really like the reservoirs as well, which are sort of closer to Manor House but in Woodberry Down. They’re a really beautiful space to walk around; I really like that sort of urban nature space I guess as well. There are some really great cafes and restaurants dotted around. Fonthill Road I think is so interesting. I’ve never really found a road like Fonthill Road with all those clothes shops, and just wandering about there. Blackstock Road – I really love Blackstock Road and also Seven Sisters. I just, I guess I love Finsbury Park.
If you want to check out the exhibition at Furtherfield Gallery (within the park):
Exhibition Opening Times: Thu 23 to Sun 26 Feb 2017, 11am – 5pm
Furtherfield Gallery, The MacKenzie Pavilion, Haringey, London, N4 2NQ
For more information visit the Furtherfield website – http://www.furtherfield.org