Get to know one of Bus Boycott commissioned artists Jane Thakoordin.
As part of the co-curated events programme which celebrates North Birmingham’s reputation of intergenerational activism, Jane will be having conversations and creating protest banners with local residents in Ladywood.
You can meet her on Saturday 7th August for a free craft and chat workshop at Eat Make Play Centre – more details here.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello there. I am Jane, a participatory artist with a passion for social justice and community mental health.
I have been curating my career for a long time, and now feel I now occupy a space where creativity and mental health work in harmony. I am a big fan of all things glittery and colourful and I put this down to my Guyanese heritage.
What are you currently obsessed with?
I am a bit of a true crime pod cast-aholic so I spend lots of my time holed up in my studio planning art works and losing myself in stories of crime and miscarriages of justice. TV wise – I have spent much of 2021 re-watching all 13 series of RuPaul Drag Race, and can often be heard saying “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else.”
What’s been your biggest takeaway (learning – not food haha) in the past year?
The last year has been one of enormous challenges. Lots of times I have felt like the Captain of a ship, navigating my way through the ice bergs trying to find the course back to reality. The precious cargo on my ship have been family, friends, my team with whom I work and those unknown heroes who have kept us all going.
What role does social work have in your work as an artist now?
I started my social work career over 28 years ago and was always drawn to community based mental health work. My degree in art and art therapy enabled me to always find authentic ways of bringing creativity into my social work practice, and over the years, I have refined the approach to one where visual arts provide their own language for people who are often in trauma. I continue to manage a mental health service and art plays an integral role in supporting people.
What are you currently working on with China Plate?
It really does feel such a privilege to be working on Bus Boycott with China Plate.
To be able to have open and sensitive conversations with people, many of whom can relate to the discrimination and racism of the boycott, and from these, draw out beautiful, authentic dialogue makes me love my job! From the conversations I am having, I am drawing out key words, themes and sentences; and transforming some of these into textile pieces.
This project is especially resonant for me as my Dad, an immigrant from Guyana, was a London bus conductor in 1963, and he remembers this time with bitter sweet memories. I really hope that I can do justice to the beautiful people I have spoken to over the first stages of Bus Boycott, and I look forward to discovering what we produce together.
Finish the sentence “Birmingham is….”
my home of 20 years. I have raised my two daughters here and feel like the city is now part of my DNA!
And finally, what brought you joy today?
I find joy in simple acts like having a coffee with a friend, listening (uninterrupted) to a podcast in the garden with my dog snoozing beside me!
Image © Jane Thakoordin
If you’re Birmingham based, or fancy a trip to the West Midlands, we’d love you to join us on Saturday 28 August at Soho House for our Bus Boycott Block Party! A free family fun day out inspired by the landmark 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott.
For more information and to book tickets, please visit our event page.