Internal Landscapes by Dima Karout
Art and Policy: Research Residency, Art Book and Exhibition
In January 2022, Dima Karout - a London-based arts curator and creative director - was invited to take up residence at Lewisham Council.
The aim of the residency was for Dima to connect with policy makers, observe and comment on how decisions are made, test new ways of connecting residents with Council policies, work with those delivering Lewisham’s vision as the UK’s first Borough of Sanctuary, and use research and creative methods to explore the intersections of migration and democracy.
Dima Karout said: “In a world constantly shifting balance, it is important that we ground ourselves within a vision of solidarity and inclusion. In my Creative Investigation into Lewisham’s meaningful places and how they inspire and shape its people, I wanted to bring locals together to talk about the place we all share rather than the diversity of our differences. I based my proposal on neurologist and psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik’s work, into how our environments are sculpting our brains and contributing to who we are. Internal Landscapes project reveals how the places we inhabit imprint themselves on our personal and collective identities.”
The Project and Process
Dima’s project started new conversations with different Council teams, community libraries and arts organisations, aiming to encourage thinking from different perspectives to create a fairer and more inclusive service. It opened up a creative investigation into places that are meaningful to Lewisham residents and sparked a borough-wide conversation on how the places we inhabit contribute to our identity. It also invited people to reflect on how we can create an inclusive society.
During her residency, Dima has focused on the importance of partnerships. She has designed and delivered a community building programme offering creative conversations, curated walks, printmaking and creative writing workshops produced in collaboration with Crofton Park, Corbett, Manor House and Sydenham Community Libraries, with the support of Lewisham Local.
Internal Landscapes – Art Book and Collective Exhibition
Inspired by her research and encounters with over 25 organisations and 100 individuals, Dima has designed and produced an art book – Internal Landscapes. The book captures some of the stories, poems, prints, learning and experiences that have come out of the project, from across Lewisham and further afield. It contains reflections from locals on their relation to, and experiences within, their neighbourhood, and offers a glimpse into the new and meaningful connections that have been fostered. Copies of Internal Landscapes will be offered to all participants and will be available in Lewisham libraries and the Horniman Museum from this month, as a lasting legacy of the project.
Thanks to a project grant from Arts Council England, Dima has been able to expand the reach of her work to engage with more residents. Dima has curated and produced a collective art exhibition and new public programme, presented in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Gardens to share some of results that her Creative Investigation revealed. The exhibition opens on Saturday 12 November 2022 and will be on display until Sunday 5 March 2023. You can find out more about the Internal Landscapes exhibition on the Horniman Museum and Gardens website.
A Learning Lab, produced in partnership with and led by Counterpoints Arts, will offer a space to deepen reflections, share learning and create new knowledge with staff from Lewisham Council and the Greater London Authority, fellow creatives and art and culture institutions.
- Print by Cordelia. Part of Internal Landscapes by Dima Karout
- Print by Paul. Part of Internal Landscapes by Dima Karout
- Print by Caroline. Part of Internal Landscapes by Dima Karout
Part of We Are Lewisham, the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022.
The Internal Landscapes Exhibition and Public Programme is supported by Arts Council England.
Dima Karout is an arts curator, practitioner and creative director who specialises in contemporary art and its potential for expanding ideas, building creative communities and initiating social change. Her work explores human journeys, the evolution of identity beyond borders, migration, territories, inclusive societies and the relation between people and places.
Previously living and working in Damascus, Paris and Montreal before relocating to London, Dima has 20 years multicultural experience designing and managing socially engaged art projects, curating exhibitions, publications and cultural events as well as lecturing at universities and developing inclusive learning programmes.
Interested in understanding and challenging the societies we create and inhabit, her latest art projects investigate the dynamic between artist, artwork and spectator. They focus on the participatory aspects of art, and how it can positively influence research, thinking and learning.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens has won Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022, the world’s largest museum prize. The Horniman connects us all with global cultures and the natural environment, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share.
Opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, music and an acclaimed aquarium, alongside a World Gallery of anthropology and a flexible arts and exhibition space, The Studio. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from medicinal and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden, Butterfly House and an animal walk – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London. horniman.ac.uk
Counterpoints Arts is a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change. Its mission is to support and produce the arts by and about migrants and refugees, seeking to ensure that their contributions are recognised and welcomed within British arts, history and culture. Since being set up in 2012, Counterpoints Arts has developed a trusted network of partners and collaborators from across different sectors, and has supported hundreds of artists, organisations and communities to develop new work, skills and connections.
The Residency formed part of our ‘Artists of Change’ programme, which was designed to open up two-way conversations between the Council and its diverse communities and highlight the power of creativity to bring about change.
This project is made possible through the valuable support of the Mayor of London, Lewisham Council, Counterpoints Arts, Crofton Park Community Library, Corbett Community Library, Sydenham Community Library and Manor House Community Library and Lewisham Local and many generous local people.