Idea13 Interview with Ali Pretty from Kinetika
Interview with Kinetika
What motivated you to start Kinetika ?
Following an initial visit to India in 1985, I was inspired by theatre director Habib Tanvir who taught me that if I wanted to make a difference in the world the best way was through the arts. I have a degree in politics and sociology and was interested to find a way of empowering and developing communities. After several years working as a carnival designer for Notting Hill Carnival,bringing diverse London communities together to tell their stories on the streets , I decided to set up Kinetika in 1997 to give me the freedom to create my own large-scale productions
After more than 15 years in London, Kinetika had expanded it’s activities and we were seeking a home where we could house the whole company in one place. We had a small studio and office squeezed into a small community centre in Brick Lane and a storage space in Stratford. In High House Production Park we were offered fantastic studios at good rates, so now we can make more and higher quality work. We also have great neighbours on site, the Royal Opera House and The Backstage Centre and a welcoming and interesting community all around Thurrock, there’s so much energy and a coherent vision amongst many arts organisation to contribute to the regeneration of the Thames Estuary.
Do you feel like you’ve made a bigger difference where you are now?
We have only been in Thurrock for 18 months, so really we are just at the early stages of getting familiar with the community and the landscape. During this time we have spent a lot of time walking and talking to many people in the borough scoping ideas for collaboration and projects that we hope will make an impact over the next five-ten years. It takes a long-term commitment to make a difference, and what’s brilliant here is that lots of people seem to have that.
Meeting new people and learning about life from a different perspective.
Yes, this was the first year of Thurrock100, which came out of a partnership with Public Health led by Debbie Maynard. It was a fantastic way to get to know the borough learning from and listening to people from the different communities.
You had a really large age range for your walk, do you strive for this in all your events?
Yes, we like to involve the whole community. Many of our projects have different ways in which people can engage, so we often combine schools workshops with community activities and if possible get the generations to interact, walking together is good for this.
Yes, the aim is for Thurrock 100 to become an annual walking and talking festival in July coinciding with Village Beach, so it becomes part of the Thurrock Calendar. In 2016 we are hoping to collect and tell 100 stories of Thurrock and curate 10 days of walks to visit the places where the stories come from.
What do you think has been your most successful project?
We’ve done so many projects and many have been successful in different ways. Some are at the high end of design, such as the commission for the Royal Opera House Silks that I created this year, that told the history of the Opera House, working with the Collections team. Others are focused at engaging diverse communities. My favourite project is Din Shuru, a carnival that told the story of the journey from India to Trinidad and back, and we created an event with over a thousand participants in Kolkata in 2003.
We are always open to welcoming new people, just get in touch [email protected] and we’ll let you know what we’ve got on and sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook. Pop in to our studio for a chat and you may find yourself painting silk.
We will be focusing on developing Thurrock100, collecting, writing and drawing 100 stories, making silk flags and creating a choreographed performance at Coalhouse Fort. We are currently in Kolkata, as part of the Re-Imagine Inda programme, scoping a walk for 2017 along the banks of the Hooghly River to be part of our first international exchange for Thurrock 100. We are also going to Ethiopia to create a project with ten schools in Gondar and then with ten partner schools in the UK. Follow us on the Thurrock100 website, Facebook page and twitter.