It is with deep sadness that we learned that our good friend, colleague, photographer and community arts organizer Kevin Ryan passed away on 22 April 2020. Most recently, we had the incredible privilege of closely working with Kev on the photo book The Way We Move…, which documented our 2017 festival. It contains many powerful photographs by Kev and his Taiwanese colleague Liao Yun Ching and was designed by Natalie Chabaud of Charnwoord Arts, which also co-produced the publication. In the early months of 2018, Jasmina and Anamaria traveled to Loughborough to work with Kev and Natalie on selecting the photographs and making a beginning with the design process. They stayed at his home for several days and very much enjoyed this process and his company.
We first came to know Kev when he headed a delegation of the East Midlands Participatory Arts Forum (EMPAF) that attended our third festival in 2005. EMPAF (and Kev) have never missed an ICAF since. His involvement in British community arts goes back to the mid 1970s. He was one of the founders of one of Britain’s pioneering community arts organisations: Charnwood Arts, of which he became the director in 1991. He was also co-founder and director of Mailout, the UK’s participatory arts sector’s main regular publication. As a practitioner he has worked in many British localities and overseas in places like India, Taiwan, China, Canada, Palestine and across Europe. Everywhere he went, he worked with a wide range of groups, including people recovering from mental health, youth at risk, people with physical disabilities. In his community art career, which spans more than 40 years, Kev worked in a variety of arts disciplines. At ICAF-5 he facilitated a fascinating extended workshop entitled ‘Making a book in a day (or two)’, which was very popular indeed and took place in our old workspace at the Jan Ligthartstraat. But by far his most favourite art form was photography, as we at ICAF we were so fortunate to discover in recent years.
As Mercedes Sosa advises in her song ‘Los Hermanos’ (‘The Brothers’):
We will carry him with us like a beloved brother in our hearts and will always remember him fondly as the gentle, friendly, and incredibly generous soul that he was.
Jasmina, Anamaria, Eugene