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Jo Thomas: Face of Islington’s London Borough of Culture bid

PUBLISHED: 11:51 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:51 08 November 2017

Composer Jo Thomas: 'On my housing estate I’ve seen the benefit of improved access to the arts.' Picture: Islington Council

Composer Jo Thomas: 'On my housing estate I’ve seen the benefit of improved access to the arts.' Picture: Islington Council

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It’s no wonder composer Jo Thomas was chosen as a face of Islington’s London Borough of Culture bid. She discusses her artistic flair with the Gazette.

After a mere two minutes chatting to Jo Thomas, it’s easy to see why the council chose her to be a face of Islington’s London Borough of Culture bid for 2019.

She is bursting with ideas and it’s difficult for the Gazette to keep up.

Jo is an electronic music composer and sound artist. Part of Islington Council’s pitch for the Borough of Culture bid is artists coming up with ideas for more people to benefit from their work. Jo is full of them.

Her latest project is on her beloved Barnsbury, where she lives off Lofting Road.

“I’m working on a piece about Barnsbury because it’s an amazing place with so much history. Living there myself, I have also noticed really significant changes, from housing to the roads becoming really busy.

“I am planning ‘sound walks’ around the public spaces and streets where people map out the history of Barnsbury.

“When people are out walking, they often listen to music and connect certain music to certain places. I want to create a piece, combining music and history and street sounds, that does that for Barnsbury by walking with residents.

“Sound is really powerful, and an amazing way to share knowledge. It’s something communal to all of us and if this helps people connect to Barnsbury, it gives us a sense of ownership.”

If Islington does win London Borough of Culture status, it would get £1.1million funding to help people currently missing out on our arts and heritage.

Jo, who has lived in Islington since she did a PhD at City University 15 years ago, says: “It’s really exciting to be part of and it would be absolutely brilliant for Islington.

“Islington has such a massive, massive amount of things going on. It’s a really vibrant culture and as a musician, I have personally benefitted from living here.

“But maybe there are some places and people getting missed out. I think Islington as a borough of culture would help people talk to each other.

“Organisations could get to know artists and vice versa. For example, it would be fantastic if the restaurants of Upper Street were filled with artwork by Islington artists. Why not?”

Visit islington.gov.uk/create by midday tomorrow (Fri) to share your ideas for the bid.

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