A few months ago, Rye Here Rye Now received an Instagram message from Pempeople, asking if we wanted to get involved in a Southwark Untold project that they were putting together at Tate Modern. Pempeople are a community-based organisation working with residents and championing locals in South London, from Southwark to Lambeth.
The team at Rye Here Rye Now decided to take part. It marked the beginning of an intensive journey, planning and preparing for the event with Pempeople.
The Southwark Untold event offered an amazing opportunity for Rye Here Rye Now monthly regulars to showcase their stories, to do a talk at Tate Modern and to be involved with other Southwark creatives. The speakers at the event were a mix of local creatives and dedicated visitors to Southwark. We decided on a series of 10 minute talks, with a panel discussing their creative involvement in Southwark. We also contacted Lucie Russell of Drawing People Together, a regular to Rye Here Rye Now and discussed how we could incorporate sketches into our event. The result was a series of combined ‘Doodle Talks’, with the audience drawing the speakers. This idea was conceived by Lucie Russell.
We started Rye Here Rye Now in order to build a community with meaningful connections and to create strong networks of creative friends that we could hang out and work with, not just collect business cards from. So, we also wanted to show other aspects of Rye Here Rye Now, like the interactivity and the relationship-building. We developed a Rye Here Rye Now-specific ‘Networking Bingo’, with questions relating to the speakers, E.g. ‘Find someone who speaks more than one language.’ Many of the speakers in attendance on Sunday are from all over the world and often speak more than one language, sometimes even two or three.
We also included our ‘One Minute Portraits’, which are a firm favourite at Rye Here Rye Now events. Kat created a ‘DIY poster-making’ workshop so participants could have a go at putting together a poster and looking at the relationships between the different elements in the layout.
Next stop, prep
Our drawing boards were created from off-cuts of grey board. Our studio happens to be very near a large printer who kindly donated some off-cuts. We also printed and cut out all of the bunting, bingo cards and signs, and Kat did the poster workshop elements. This meant weeks of cutting paper but it was worth it to see all of the beautiful worksheets on display at the Tate. We also chose to print on coloured paper to coordinate with all the Rye Here Rye Now notices.
We were really pleased that most of the speakers that we asked were up for being involved in the Doodle Talks. We were a little worried that it might become a little chaotic at times, but everyone seemed ready to take on the challenge. It really says a lot that the speakers were committed to trying something new.
We promoted the event mainly through social media but we also sent mailers and a press release out to the London press. We were featured in Time Out London and we are also waiting on some pieces which should appear after the event.
Despite the worries of planning and organizing a rather big event, it turned out to be a resounding success. The event was packed. The speakers shared their amazing stories and everyone doodled, networked and designed their way throughout a very busy day. One of the highlights was witnessing the enthusiasm of the kids as they got involved in the activities.
Thank you very much to everyone who came down on Sunday. It was so nice to see you and to have your support. It was a really magical day. Thanks to Nicholas Okwulu at Pempeople for having the vision to create SouthwarkUntold and for inviting Rye Here Rye Now. Thank you to Julia Piekarczyk for her excellent coordination of the event. A big thank you to Tate Exchange for providing such a wonderful space. Thank you to Drawing People Together for collaborating on the Doodle Talks with us. A massive thanks to the volunteers who made the day run smoothly. Thank you to John the Unicorn for sponsoring the art materials. Thank you to Kat Garner, our Rye Here Rye Now co-founder. Finally, to everyone who spoke - you inspire us. You guys showed up and told some truly inspiring stories and we feel really humbled to have heard them.
Photo credit: Claudiu Joacabine