Off The Fence Artists: Akmaral Khassen

This year’s Brockwell Live festival season celebrates 50 years of the Lambeth Country Show with a spectacular collaboration between artists and local community. The perimeter fence of the month-long festival site will be transformed into a large-scale installation honouring Lambeth’s history of radical celebration. 

In collaboration with Brockwell Live, The Brixton Project has commissioned five artists, through a widespread open call, to design artwork for the fence based on community ideas and memories of celebration. 

Selected artists misha B, Lorna Jean-Charles, Akmaral Khassen, William Lindley, Habiba Nabisubi and Kes Young, were invited to run creative workshops with local residents of all ages as part of the Brixton Project’s innovative Community Research Exchange. The workshops set out to gather the disparate voices of Lambeth’s local residents to share personal and collective narratives through dynamic, creative means.
Informed by the stories and visual representations gathered in these community workshops, the artists’ designs make up an immersive installation of joyous expression, that captures the vibrant spirit of Lambeth’s local community.

We caught up with the artists to learn more about them, their process and the Off The Fence project.

Akmaral: “For this artwork, I embarked on a journey to explore the narratives of women in Lambeth. Through simple questions posed to the community, who have assisted in shaping the artwork, we have uncovered numerous heart warming stories.

The illustration depicts all women sitting together in a living room, creating a safe and supportive space. The set up was prompted by one of the participants mentioning her auntie Gail’s house as a refuge. Growing up in Brixton, amidst the fear of riots, she found comfort and safety within her aunt’s home, portraying it as a place of gathering and celebration.

We can also see a mother whose love language is cooking for everyone. Others spoke of caring grandmothers who treated them to sweet treats, supportive and humorous teachers, and sisters who brought joy during times of sorrow.”

What inspired you to get involved with the Off The Fence project?

“When I saw the opening for the Off the Fence project, I really liked that it is shaped around celebration. London during the summer is a city of festivals, street parties, and coming together outside. I was certainly inspired to contribute to that, especially in my local area of Lambeth.” 

 

Since its inception, The Brockwell Fence has been a polarising point of debate and discussion amongst the Lambeth community. What do you hope your artwork and this project can contribute to the discussion?

“The design process for Off The Fence presented a unique opportunity for collaboration between artists and the community. I firmly believe that this collaboration should serve as an exemplary model for creatives and curators alike. It was profoundly insightful to listen to individuals recount their childhood memories and family narratives—stories that often remain undocumented. Depicting a fragment of Lambeth’s vibrant community was a gratifying and enjoyable exercise, offering a glimpse into its rich tapestry.”

 

How did working at the CRX inform your process? Were there any unexpected or interesting outcomes of working in the community?

It always pleasantly surprises me to see the amount of love and care the Lambeth community holds for its area and people. I personally admire the CRX community for highlighting individuals who contribute so much to our community yet often go unnoticed.

Akmaral Khassen

My first art print was created during my master’s thesis at the architecture school where I investigated hidden homelessness amongst women in the UK and the lack of access to menstrual hygiene. My work opens the conversation about our body’s right and explores joy and softness associated with feminine forms.