Siddhi Gupta + Kat McGrath
Mapping The Hostile Environment in Higher Arts Education

10 May – 30 June 2021 | Domino Houses Billboard, Bounds Green Road, N22 8YB

Kat & Siddhi are international students, alumni, practitioners, and migrant cultural workers. Since November 2020, they have been organising a series of virtual workshops that seek to map how the UK’s Hostile Environment immigration policy manifests within the ecosystems of the Higher Arts Education, and the broader cultural sector (i.e. huge tuition fees, visa status during studies, colonial curriculums, post study visa, casualised workforce, discriminatory practices within the institution, etc). They are interested in unpacking experiences of other students and provoking dialogue regarding their reviews/reflections of their time in the UK and their plans for the future.

The discussions were facilitated, documented and are available for audiences to explore via an online digital, collaborative map. Co-created with the participants of the workshop series, the map sits as a living document. It touches on the different aspects of the journey of international students from the day they decide to commit themselves to the UK education system, to their aspirations after graduating; highlighting the glaring realities of huge tuition fees, visa processes, lack of support systems, problems with housing, discriminatory practices within the institution and so on. These interactions not only focus on individual experiences, but expand to include provocations about the larger critical migration discourse in the UK. Additionally, they question how these systems and their consequences sit within the cultural sector. 

A response that was often received from workshop participants was, ‘Thanks for creating a safe space for these conversations’ and a sense of relief of finding a community that validated some of their dissatisfaction and concerns. The audience consisted of migrant international students, tutors and empathetic home and EU students. They were aware of the problem and there was no ambiguity in addressing it. One of them rightly put it as ‘everything is just a mess really’.

The billboard and the online map provide a space and resource to navigate the complexities of migration, both within the UK and beyond. Kat and Siddhi wish to continue their organising efforts in order to carry forth collective actions and the spirit of speculative futures. In this aspiration the billboard is a starting point, a provocation, a window and an invitation into the minds and hearts of those who have experienced the Hostile Environment policy in HigherArts Education in the UK. We welcome you to explore and participate. 

Sounding Sites: Mapping the Hostile Environment in the Arts - a Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday 1 June 2021, 2-3pm

An audio segment brought to you by artists and designers Siddhi Gupta and Kat McGrath; featuring a conversation with a cross-section of international arts students – Bakhtawer Haider of Sold Out Publishing, Syahadah Shahril of Pause or Pay UK, and Morgan Markey – discussing the Hostile Environment and its impact on their experiences of Higher Arts Education. 

Kat is an interdisciplinary designer and researcher working across printed matter, digital platforms, and physical exchanges. She designs and facilitates curated spaces that engage with notions of political discourse, educational structures, and performative modes of learning, such as game play.

Siddhi is interested in using visual communication as a tool for education and disseminating information. Her practice is inspired by culture and manifests where it intersects with education. She currently splits her time as the hands and eyes at Kalakarm Curriculum -which is an initiative that aims at facilitating art in education and Design and Communication Lead at Justice Adda.

Using Format