about the artwork
'Living Networks of Gentle Impact', 2021
Catalina Renjifo and Sustainable Wantage CAG
Unfired recycled paper clay, charcoal drawing, community compost, wild plants and recycled handmade objects* (made by D of E student group)
'Living Networks' is an installation work by Catalina Renjifo in collaboration with Sustainable Wantage CAG. where each container stands for a node in a network of wide ranging activism that Sustainable Wantage carries out in its community, from nature conservation to repair cafes.
The containers are handbuilt with unfired recycled paper fibre and clay, filled with community sourced compost and planted with wild plants and recycled handmade objects made in a workshop with D of E students. Once the exhibition is finished all materials will be returned to their environment and recycled. The collaboration demonstrates the gentle impact humans can have in their communities.
about the Artist(s)
Catalina Renjifo is a visual artist and practice based researcher interested in artistic epistemologies and intercultural pedagogies. Her work deconstructs meaning making and communication, investigating mechanisms of knowledge transfer and understanding through the materials and actions she performs.
By materialising the enquiry, giving form to learning and questioning and sharing the cognitive process of making, the aim is to shift perceptions of knowing and reveal the underlying injustice of knowledge power structures. Catalina’s interests are shaped by the multiple cultural identities she inhabits, from the colonial and post-colonial obliterations and miscegenation of Latin American culture, the realities and escapism of the art, music and politics of the violent times she grew up in, the constant renegotiation between otherness and belonging.
Describing her practice as digestive in method, research based in methodology and pedagogical in outlook, it involves breaking down, dissolving, and uniting contradictory materials to absorb and assimilate what is learnt in the process. This in turn guides the choices in presenting the artworks, enabling the encounter of other bodies and their own cultural knowledge.
Each artwork formulates a question and as a final piece, the specific formulation of process and materials embodies the enquiry. Her interest in artistic epistemologies affirms the cognitive nature of aesthetic experience and her aim is to widen the perception of how we come to know.
Current strategies of engagement are reviewed and deployed as embedded pedagogies, both in exhibited works and in the ways of teaching others.
2 A-level Art students who have been doing their Duke of Edinburgh volunteering with Sustainable Wantage have made plants and flowers from the kinds of things that come through The Mix Community Space; computer parts, knitting needles, CDs, bottle tops and other ‘rescued’ items from our Resource Bank.
about the group
Sustainable Wantage is a Community Action Group, part of a network of over 80 similar CAGs across Oxfordshire, focused on activities that protect and enhance our natural environment and strengthen our local community in Wantage and surrounding area. We are run by volunteers interested in actions that have a positive impact and increase our resourcefulness and resilience as a community.
We operate from The Mix, our community space located close to Wantage Town Square, and our activities include waste minimisation through the community fridge, where we distribute surplus food (primarily from local supermarkets), a monthly repair café where our clever volunteers mend items brought in by the public and a resource bank (free for anyone to access). We also run a wide range of training courses from The Mix, including practical skills such as basic plumbing and upholstery, art activities and health and wellbeing sessions.
When Covid-19 hit, like all groups, we had to have a rethink regarding our activities. However it was obvious that the community fridge could play a vital role in helping the community during the pandemic. We initially changed how we operated, with volunteers delivering the food to those in need or self isolating. As restrictions relaxed in Summer 2020 we reduced the number of deliveries and started to offer collection of bags of food from The Mix and subsequently from another local venue as well. We have just also started a Community Larder membership scheme on top of this. Since March 2020 we have distributed over 56.5 tonnes of surplus food out into the community and stopped it going to waste.
In the same period our expert repair café volunteers have been very busy repairing electronic devices to allow students working from home access to the internet and learning resources. We have provided 500 approx reconditioned laptops, tablets and desktop computers to local students.
Telephone: 07768 767787