A Code of Practice
26 Jan 2024
26 Jan 2024
Hypericum A Code of Practice
Hypericum perforatum, commonly known as St. John's Wort, has been used since antiquity as medication for somatic and psychic distress. Blooming at the time of summer solstice, in early Germanic cultures it became known as the bringer of light. Through to the Middle Ages, St John's Wort was used to ward off evil spirits as well as disease, and it is still known as a potent herbal remedy for depression and anxiety. The Greek origins of the name for the Hypericum family are uncertain but, according to a common interpretation, it is derived from ‘hyper eikon’ and alludes to the plant’s apotropaic properties.

Obsidian Coast is excited to announce the beginning of Hypericum: A Code of Practice, a research project developing a collectively produced, ever-evolving code of practice for feminist, antiracist, anticolonial and environmentally sustainable arts organising.

The project is led by a newly formed working group of UK based arts workers and small-scale organisations: Angela Chan, Divya Osbon, Anjali Prashar-Savoie, Jamila Prowse, La Sala and Obsidian Coast.

We feel that cultural organisations hold the potential to participate in reimagining the socio-political conditions under which we live, but often any tangibly counterhegemonic practice is curtailed by the reliance of organisations on predominant value systems of hetero/cissexist patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, capitalist extraction, competition and accelerated production with maximum efficiency. Hypericum is an attempt to envision what it would mean to place care, generosity and solidarity in the crux of all arts organising, and to share these imaginings as an evolving open source code for practice.

The foundation of this open source code may entail – but will not be limited to – essays, practical guidelines, pledges and glossaries. These may address safer space guidelines, accessibility, formation and maintenance of ethical working relationships, counter strategies for dealing with master suppression techniques, or proposals for support structures to enforce collectivity within an increasingly precarious professional field. The contents may be analytical, practical or speculative, whatever is deemed most helpful and generative. The only predetermined condition of the code of practice is that it always stems from a specific context and never perceives itself to be an all-encompassing, complete or static entity.

We are at the very beginning of our shared journey. When our foundational work reaches an appropriate stage, we will bring our research and conversations to the public realm, hosting open discussions and inviting contributions from all who wish to partake in this collective endeavour.

If you would like to know more about Hypericum: A Code of Practice, please email nella[a]obsidiancoast.art.
Angela Chan, Divya Osbon, Anjali Prashar-Savoie, Jamila Prowse, la Sala and Nella Aarne
Angela Chan is a creative climate change communicator and independently runs the curatorial project Worm: art + ecology. She holds an MA in Climate Change and her research interests span decolonial climate justice, geography, feminist science and contemporary sinophone science fiction. Angela collaborates widely with visual artists, activists, speculative fiction authors and youth groups. She co-founded the London Chinese Science Fiction Group and her writing is published in Science Fiction (2020, Whitechapel Gallery & MIT Press). Recent projects include an Arts Council England DYCP research project on climate visual cultures in East Asia (2019), an exhibition project Climate Knowledges at MAMA in Rotterdam (2020), and Angela is currently part of the Myco-Lective artist development programme.


Divya Osbon is a maker, curator, and writer based in East London. Her practice is most often situated within grassroots community and activist projects. She is also the Gallery Manager at Mimosa House, a non-profit art space for women and queer artists. Divya recently completed an MA in Art & Politics at Goldsmiths, where her research focused on the racialised body within contemporary performance and video art as well as representations of 'mixed-race' identities. Recent artistic projects have involved collaborative theatre-making with prison-based arts charity Kestrel Theatre, as well as facilitating banner making and props for Night Pride, a movement against LGBTQ+ hate crimes in London. Past independent curatorial projects include Unite Against Dividers, an arts activation week in response to Brexit politics, The Floating Cinema’s summer arts programme, and organising DIY RISO, an exhibition of risograph printing at DIY Cultures festival with OOMK. As a writer she has published articles in The White Review, This is Tomorrow, OOMK and AQNB and was selected as Writer in Residence in 2018 for Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.


Anjali Prashar-Savoie is a producer facilitating events that span parties, live art, discussion and workshops. Currently running the late-night music programme at nightclub and theatre, The Yard, Anjali is also completing an MA in Art and Politics with a focus on clubbing and community organising.


Jamila Prowse is an independent curator, writer and editor, aiming to develop new dialogues and structures around identity and care within the visual arts. Specialising in moving image, photography and community focused public programming, Jamila works primarily to center and engage underrepresented artists and audiences. Jamila was the Guest Editor for Photoworks special edition Annual in 2020, celebrating 25 years of the organisation. Recent curatorial projects include Dancing in Peckham, Peckham 24, London (May 2019); MOVE, 1-1, Basel (March 2019); Reflections of Us, Brighton Photo Fringe, Brighton (October 2018). She has written around representation, identity, disability and care for Magazine Art Work, Photoworks, Dazed, and was the founder of alternative women's magazine Typical Girls.


la Sala is a feminist collective space for biodiversity, sustainability & care, initiated by Alba Colomo and Lucy Lopez. We are currently based in Nottingham, in a small kitchen and working space from which we organise workshops and talks, and gather and cook together. We begin from a premise of care (interpersonal and planetary) and in response to the exploitative institutions we have worked in. Our first zine, Institutions as Ecosystems, sets out a working code of practice for the art institution we feel is needed in the current moment. Our programme unfolds with the seasons - initially considering the time, care and conditions needed to begin well, and gathering a group of caretakers for la Sala. la Sala remembers, references and is dedicated to LaSal, a feminist bar and library that opened in Barcelona in 1977, after the Franco dictatorship, with the aim of providing a space for women to socialise, get training and legal advice. In 1978 they started LaSal editions; a feminist publishing initiative that printed 74 books written by women.


Obsidian Coast is a space for unhurried artistic and curatorial practice outside the city proper, envisioned as an otherworldly destination opening unforeseeable horizons. We host exhibitions, residencies, events and a library project with a commitment to artist moving image and environmentally sustainable and feminist practice. Built upon a desire to approach, stay with and transform in the presence of others, the space is envisaged as a coastal ecosystem, in which ever-shifting assemblages constitute a resonant web of ideas and ways of being. On this mythical coast, the ethics of the most intimate interactions that compose everyday life constitute the fundamental conditions from which to pursue sensitive approaches to research, practice and political thought. Giving space for unhurried development of ideas and co-emergence of multiple perspectives in lasting encounters, the coast is a life-affirming abode for gathering with principles of care and generosity. Located in Bradford-on-Avon, Obsidian Coast is run by Nella Aarne and Sam Smith.

Hypericum: A Code of Practice is kindly supported by Arts Council England.