Mark Making – Izzy Parker

Exhibition, 18 February – 11 March 2017

Associated free artist events

Simple Acts with Sibylle Peters
Thursday 9 March, 6:30–8:30pm

Family Workshop: Acrylic Signet Rings
Saturday 18 February, 11:30am – 1pm

Professional Development Workshop with Stantonbury Campus


Mark Making Documentary from Naveed Nasir on Vimeo.

Mark Making celebrated Milton Keynes’ young people and the City’s legacy in an exhibition representing time and identity through a series of workshops in collaboration with students of Stephenson Academy, connecting past and present, providing a platform for the new wave of inventors, architects and designers to have a voice and share with the City what it means to them to be a young person living in Milton Keynes. Mark Making acted as the fourth and final instalment of Common Ground; 12 months of collaborations between artists Yinka Ilori, Ibiye Camp, Tom Dale, Izzy Parker, Groundwork and our communities.

The exhibition visually represented time passed in the form of an immersive installation created from thousands of hung multiples. Artist Izzy Parker showcased her participant’s identities, her father’s and her own identity in one setting; representing a generation of identities in one exhibition.

Parker asked students to explore their own identities by teaching them how to design and make their own signet rings and she explored her own identity by creating a new body of work that is homage to the recent passing of her father.

The exhibition provided a platform to encapsulate different perceptions of identity. Her own, her father’s and the students. The show featured an immersive hanging installation by Izzy Parker, the students finished signet rings and a short documentary of the project created by filmmaker Naveed Nasir.

Set in Milton Keynes Arts Centre’s 17th century barn gallery, this event offered an opportunity for Milton Keynes' residents to come together to share food and celebrate the achievements of the City’s young people.

An Introduction
2017 will herald the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes and much has changed since this ‘new town’ was officially inaugurated in 1967 with a simple brief to become a ‘city in scale’. Artist Izzy Parker marked this special occasion by exploring the theme of identity and asking participants from the Stephenson Academy to design and make their own signet ring.

Signet rings have been used since the 1400s as identification marks. They were first used to mark documents by way of an official seal being imprinted into hot wax or soft clay. They were also used to mark doorways and even seal tombs. Used on a global scale by men and women of great standing; each ring as individual as the person wearing it, it often hosted a bespoke family crest or symbol. The rings were considered such an official mark of identification, that to prevent fraudulent acts being committed they were often destroyed when their wearer died.

Izzy Parker chose to work with pupils from the Stephenson Academy, asking them to consider how and what factors represent their own identity. Be it their own personal history, clothing, friends, family or even their favourite musician. The ‘making’ element of the project offered a calm, focussed and contemplative activity for them to engage with. Providing the head space to consider what and who they relate to as young adults.

"It is important we find our own clan; where we feel we belong alongside peers we respect so we can contextualise where we fit into society and our community."
Izzy Parker, Artist

Parker’s own exploration of identity has been heightened by the recent passing of her father in December 2015. Interested by how signet rings were destroyed after the wearer died, somewhat eradicating the identity of the individual, Parker investigated how we often try to hold on to the identity of a person after their death. She considered our perception of memories and how they can change over the course of time.

Secondary to the signet ring workshops Parker ran some set building classes where students assisted in the build and installation of the set for the exhibition. By the end of the project they learned a broad range of goldsmithing, set building and practical skills.

Common Ground expanded upon Milton Keynes Arts Centre's community participation and artist development programmes by offering a twelve month season of five distinct projects, each presenting high quality and meaningful opportunities for engagement between a diverse spectrum of artists and communities living in Milton Keynes. Working with artists Yinka Ilori, Ibiye Camp, Tom Dale, Izzy Parker and Groundwork (Ashleigh Griffith and Cara Davies), our projects saw artists work directly with our communities to create new works and establish a connected programme of workshops, professional and artistic development, salons and supper clubs targeting artists and practitioners based in Milton Keynes.

#MarkMaking #CommonGround #MK50

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