Loraine Leeson

  • "Women Beware of Man Made Medicine", 1980. A2 poster produced in conjunction with trades councils and health workers’ unions for the East London Health Project. Collaboration with Peter Dunn.
  • "Shattering the Developers’ Illusions", 1983. Photo-mural from the Docklands Community Poster Project. Collaboration with Peter Dunn.
  • "The first People’s Armada arrives at Parliament", 1984. Docklands Community Poster Project.
  • West Meets East", 1992. Photo-mural produced with an East London school exploring the theme of the young people’s experience of living in two cultures.
  • "Sara, from Between Family Lines", 1994.
  • "Awakenings, after Stanley Spencer's The Resurrection Cookham", 1995. Collaboration with Peter Dunn.
  • "VOLCO", 1999 - 2009. Evolving planet in cyberspace founded on principles of co-operation, constructed by over 1000 children from four countries.
  • "The Catch", 2002. Gateway public artwork for Barking involving 300 primary school pupils.
  • "GeezerPower", 2008. The Geezers with artist Loraine Leeson at the Not QuiteYet exhibition, SPACE gallery, London. Photo © John Cockram.
  • "Active Energy: Pittsburgh", 2012. Six-projector video installation for the Feminist and…exhibition, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh. Collaboration with Northside Seniors.

cSPACE director Dr. Loraine Leeson has worked with communities through the visual arts for over forty years, creating artworks and initiatives in the public domain.

As a young artist returning from a scholarship in Berlin in the mid-seventies, she recognised the cultural power of art throughout history and set out to find ways for her art to make a difference by supporting those working for social change.

Teaming up with her work and life partner artist Peter Dunn, she embarked on a series of projects with trades unionists and activist that centred on the politics of health, producing posters and exhibitions for the Bethnal Green Hospital Campaign and East London Health Project. In the early eighties they co-founded the Docklands Community Poster Project, developing a team of six artists and designers to work with the communities of London Docklands. Over the following decade they created photo-murals, exhibitions, posters, events and photographic documentation making the case for a re-development of the area that would meet the needs of local people.

In the early nineties they co-founded The Art of Change, developing participatory projects that addressed issues affecting the communities of East London in that changing urban environment. Much of their work was realised through public art initiatives, while Loraine became increasingly interested in opportunities for collective creativity afforded by emerging Internet technologies. When she and Peter went their separate ways at the end of the decade, she founded cSPACE. Through this organisation she collaborated with other artists as well as students, academics and professional specialists to develop projects that would use the visual arts and new technologies to bring the voices, ideas, and first-hand knowledge and expertise held by local people into the public domain.

Loraine was born in London and educated at St Martins College of Art and University of Reading, followed by a DAAD scholarship to the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. She received her PhD in Art, Communities and Social Change from University of Ulster in 2010. A retrospective exhibition celebrating thirty years of her work with communities toured Berlin, London, Toronto and Dublin 2005-08. The Catch, a gateway public artwork she created for Barking town centre with the input of three hundred children and a mentoring scheme for university and college students, was voted a London 2012 Landmark. More recent projects include The Young Person’s Guide to East London, produced with hundreds of teenagers from the London boroughs hosting the 2012 Olympics. This received the Olympic Inspire Mark and a Media Trust Inspiring Voices award, while Active Energy, a twelve-year project with The Geezers, a group of older men in East London that focused on renewable energy, received the RegenSW Arts and Green Energy award. Jal! was an interdisciplinary research project carried out in 2018 with artists in Rajasthan that addressed issues of water shortage in desert regions, while The Art of Healing with creative practitioners in Kashmir is currently using the arts to support children suffering from traumatic experience caused by violence and lockdown in that region. 

Loraine was Fulbright Scholar in Residence at University of Washington In 2011, and in 2012 resident artist at the Mattress Factory museum in Pittsburgh. She continues to live in London and currently teaches Fine Art Social Practice at Middlesex University.

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