History of ART.e @ the art of change

ART.e @ the art of change was founded by Peter Dunn in July 2001 as a new departure in the relationship between Art, Regeneration, Technologies and environment (hence the name ART.e) and as a legacy organisation of The Art of Change, which he co-founded in 1990.

It is a bottom up, culture led approach, with a history of innovation over three decades in creating models of how art practice can operate in the public domain.

Early work on Regeneration and Health Issues

When Peter Dunn left the Slade School of Art in 1978, his pioneering work in the public domain, particularly addressing redevelopment and health issues, was already creating interest - featuring in seminal exhibitions such as Art for Whom? (Serpentine Gallery, London) Art for Society (Whitechapel Gallery, London), In Sickness and In Health (Toronto Canada), and Documenta 6 ( Kassel Germany). In that same year he co-founded, with Loraine Leeson, the East London Health Project, producing a series of posters on a range of health issues that was distributed through health workers unions, doctors surgeries and hospital waiting rooms.

Docklands Poster Project, 1981-1990

As a result of seeing the East London Health Project work, representatives of tenants and action groups in London's Docklands, approached them in 1980 to do 'something similar' about the situation developing there. This resulted in the formal creation of the Docklands Community Poster Project in 1981 as a Community Co-operative employing six people and visually represented the views of the tenants and action groups for almost a decade. During this time they created six 18ft x 12ft Photomural sites across docklands, showing a slowly animating sequence called ' The Changing Picture of Docklands', a range of travelling exhibitions which became the Docklands Road Show, posters leaflets and pamphlets and a photo-archive of the campaigns and physical changes over the period. There were also two People's Armada's to Parliament, involving over two thousand people in cultural and campaigning festivals on the river. This work received international recognition both in publications and exhibitions is now housed in the Museum (of London) in Docklands www.museumindocklands.org.uk (also see Article archive and Project sections on this site).

The Art of Change, 1990-2001

The 'decade of development' in London's Docklands provided valuable lessons to both regeneration authorities and communities alike. There had to be a better way, one which involves rather than alienates communities, one which is inclusive and culturally diverse, and a proactive - rather than reactive - approach to change. That was the source of the name and the thesis of 'The Art of Change' which took those lessons to redevelopment areas around the country.

The possibilities created by new combinations of digital and emerging environmental technologies began to inspire new strand of work by Peter Dunn in the mid '90s, as represented in the Wymering Public Art Project: he created a 14 meter 'tree of life' sculpture generating power from the wind and - using the focus of Agenda 21 - worked with the community, other artists and architects and landscape architects, to create a major environmental transformation with a new build Community and Sports Centre, seven artworks and landscaping at its centre.

It was this radical interpretation of agenda 21, bringing together social and technological interactivity with the richness and depth of 'discovering identities' -living and changing, not fixed and stereotyped - that eventually led to the founding of ART.e and development of the 'Global Town Square' initiative to take these ideas further (see Articles referring to this and Project Futuretown And Beyond and Poplar Futures). And the rest, as they say, is the future.