‘Communities in the Making’ is an ongoing series of events that unites community-led and process-driven approaches to fostering co-existence amongst diverse underrepresented cultures and communities in Manchester. Through artist-led workshops, collaborative screenings, cross-disciplinary exchanges, and roundtable discussions, we seek to create an environment where communities are empowered, emancipated, and entangled in a process of collective creation.
Our recently launched Communal Project Space hosts ideas in flux and practice in progress. To accommodate and respond to the ever-shifting diasporic culture of our current moment, we invite members of the public to gather, collaborate, and question with us. Instead of instituting predefined structures, we propose to explore ways of commoning and co-existing, enabling agency for reckoning the groundwork for community building.
As part of the "Communities in the Making" programme, a special artwork display in the Communal Project Space titled 'A cart of lost pineapples' by Malaysian artist Cheong See Min takes centre stage. This handwoven textile artwork is a testament to the programme's vision of inclusivity and collaboration. Crafted using pineapple leaf fibre, linen, onion skin, and gardenia-dyed cotton and silk, it references an archival image of a buffalo cart loaded with pineapples on a journey to the Singaporean dock.
This artwork was the outcome of See Min's research conducted during her 2023 residency at Gasworks in London. She delved into histories of plants, fibres, and textiles that were exported from Malaysia to England during the 18th century British Malaya period. See Min developed a particular fascination with pineapple leaf fibre, which was planted and harvested by Chinese coolies. She furthered her investigation into the overlooked colonial history of this lost cultural product depicted in the archival image and the collections from Kew Gardens, such as a bunch of pineapple leaf fibre exhibited at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition.
By investigating the overlooked colonial history of pineapple leaf fibre and reconnecting it with traditional weaving techniques, 'A cart of lost pineapples' serves as a tangible representation of esea contemporary's commitment to celebrating diasporic knowledge and resilience. By presenting this artwork in the Communal Project Space, the programme invites viewers to encounter stories in an interconnected space where art, community, and history intertwine, fostering dialogue, reflection, and transformation.
As a newly revitalised arts organisation, esea contemporary is committed to challenging conventional institutional formalities. We believe in the inherent creativity of every individual and aim to establish meaningful connections that reflect the urgency and challenges of life through artistic and creative expressions. We actively listen, facilitate, understand, and foster new experiences with artists and community members in an open and interconnected manner.
We encourage participatory moments that bring artists and community members together, to shape the notion of collectivity. Through ‘Communities in the Making’, we attempt to dismantle barriers and establish an inclusive, engaging, and responsive public space where individuals feel welcomed, valued, and actively involved. Let us celebrate diasporic knowledge and ground our work in a vision of inclusivity and collaboration. Together, we can create a vibrant and transformative space where the power of art and collective agency intertwine and rejuvenate.
Cheong See Min is a multidisciplinary artist currently practicing between Malaysia and Taiwan. See Min's practice interrogates the relationship between human nature and the tropics. She considers weaving an act of communication that mediates between the past and present. Informed by social behavioural observations made during her international travel and residency experiences, See Min's textile works seek to reflect on the boundaries of life, employing tactile materials in an attempt to embody different layers of spatial and experiential narratives.
See Min holds her BA in Fine Art from Tunghai University and an MA from Tainan National University of Art, Taiwan. She was awarded second runner up for the Nando’s Art Initiative (2017), shortlisted for Bakat Muda Sezaman Young Contemporaries (2019) and the International Biennale Exhibition of Micro Textile Art Scythia, Ukraine (2021). Her works have been shown in galleries and art fairs in Malaysia, Taiwan, Bangkok and Ukraine. Recent residencies include Islands Art Park (Taichung, Taiwan, 2021), Rimbun Dahan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2022), Gasworks (London, United Kingdom,2023).