At Garden Studios, one of our primary goals is to build relationships with our Park Royal neighbours in the community we call home.
The Masbro Youth Club offers a safe and friendly West London environment four nights a week for young people aged 13-19 (up to 25 for young people with disabilities) to engage in a variety of informal and formal activities and workshops. These activities include art and crafts, healthy cooking, individual and group work sessions, a weekly girls and young women evening, gym and fitness sessions, dance classes, and a football coaching with Chelsea Kickz.
Masbro Youth Club recently undertook a collaborative creative project titled ‘The Epic Megatron.’ A location-based art installation with some pieces featured on the Garden Studios campus, it drew inspiration from machinery and factories as well as everyday objects and nature. Local artist Hanna Benihoud, who makes public art that tells a community’s story, using empathy to engage and action to create,’ was the artist-in-residence leading the project.
Initially, the young people went through a stage of ‘sensory exploration’ which involved wearing blindfolds to heighten the other senses and having the participants feel their way through a series of materials and objects. They were then asked to design and draw some of their dream factories and machinery. Out of that session came several ideas ranging from a machine that turns mushrooms into bikes, vegetables into gold, a theme park powered by doughnuts, a Brussel sprout factory that turns sprouts into ice cream, a ‘No More Work Factory’ that turns work into fizzy drinks, sweets and iPads, ‘The Epic Factory’ and ‘The Megatron’. The inspiration for the name is an amalgamation of the final two factories resulting in ‘The Epic Megatron’.
Finally, the young people from Masbro Youth Club made a physical model of their factories using a range of mixed media. Then Hanna Benihoud created a digital mock-up of ‘The Epic Megatron.’ Thus, the final factory was complete, celebrating Park Royal’s infantry in form, colour, playfulness, silliness, kindness and of course a rejection of Brussel sprouts.
The next challenge was to figure out how to translate this digital creation into a location-based art piece that could be installed in various locations around Park Royal. Out of another workshop came the idea of ‘crumbs’ which would lead to stand-alone art pieces. The ‘crumbs’ were inspired by different themes the youth members decided on that reflect their community: ‘Turn it Up’ inspired by Ace Records, a record label along the canal, ‘Snack Attack’ inspired by the Kolak factory, ‘Heroes to the Rescue’ inspired by the fire station, ‘Waste Savers’ inspired by the nature spotted alongside the canal; and finally ‘Lights Camera Action’ which of course draws inspiration from Garden Studios!
The resulting ‘crumb’ pieces were turned into actual structures, paintings and vinyl stickers that have all been placed around the Park Royal area. ‘The Epic Megatron’ itself can be found as a vinyl piece on a wall outside the Kolak factory.
Garden Studios: How did this project come about?
Hanna Benihoud: For ‘The Epic Megatron,’ we wanted to find a way to combine the ideas of local young people and celebrate the businesses alongside the canal. It is easy, even if you live in a place, to not know what happens inside industrial areas. We wanted to create artwork that celebrated the creativity within Park Royal and so we came up with this micro sculpture trail.
GS: What was it like working with the young people at Masbro Youth Club?
HB: The students were fantastic to work with. We love working with young creatives because they break the rules in the best way and in turn that pushes us.
GS: How did you decided the placement of each piece in the Park Royal area?
HB: We wanted to create a trail down the river that people could spot during their journey. This depended on the kindness of businesses to host the artwork. Luckily for us the businesses we approached were so happy to support this community project. So we have the sculptures scattered along the path. Some high, some low, some 2D some 3D. We ended the trail at Kolak Snacks. We specifically chose there because at certain times of the day there is a delicious smell of biscuits! This adds another layer to the artwork.
Here at Garden, we are proud to house one of the ‘Crumb’ structures! It is located on the roof of one of our canal-side pods. We encourage everyone to follow the trail and view the artwork for themselves!