Christina Skarpari studied Communication Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, University of The Arts London, with research on The Potential of Festival Experiences as Tools for Community Empowerment and primary case study Xarkis Festival, first launched in Arsos village, Cyprus, August 2013. Since then she has been art directing and producing the annual Xarkis Festival in Cypriot villages and since December 2013 has found the practise based research NGO, Xarkis.
Christina has participated in the group exhibitions: Integrating Knowledge, Somerset House, London, UK, 2013, Also at The Lethaby Gallery, London, 2014, Unique Print Exhibition at Camden Image Gallery, London, UK, 2014 and has co-curated The Cyprus Circle exhibition, at Point Centre of Contemporary Art, Nicosia, 2015. She has facilitated and curated the workshops, Rejuvenating the Local Museum of Kalavasos, at “TENTA” Festival, Kalavasos, 2015, Voicing Stories at Xarkis Festival, Lofou, 2015 the arts & culture workshop at Young People #ShapeCyprus event, Ledra Palace, Nicosia, 2015 and visual communication workshops at Kids University: Collaboration for City-Zen-Ship at ARTos Cultural & Research Foundation, Nicosia, 2015. She has also worked as a scientific collaborator at European University of Cyprus, in 2015. Her research interests include vernacular and folk culture, participatory and socially engaged design.
How can participatory design be used as a methodology for community empowerment and creative community development?
Xarkis = from the ancient greek words eks’arhis. The idea for the creation of this non-profit organization came from a need to re-define and re-brand cultural actions that may contribute towards community empowerment and creative community development. Today, Xarkis as a design-driven initiative holds a number of projects in the realm of folk and vernacular culture and on a community level aims to have both a short term and long term impact, through the use of a participatory design methodology that has been employed since the start of the project, in May 2013. Participatory design as a methodology refers to the active participation of citizens in design problems that affect them. It is proposed for projects aimed towards large and complicated transformation processes, whereby, small-scale, varied initiatives assemble together and cooperate, to achieve a greater vision. Rather than perceiving people as carriers of needs and problems the approach is to view them as active co-designers and co-producers that can enrich the process, by bringing invaluable solutions to design problems. In this project and through the perspective of this methodology, we explore how a culture of collective action is promoted, as well as a platform for learning, practise and experimentation, in relation to folk philosophy and scientific knowledge. Finally, we delve into its use as a tool for resilience and rejuvination, which essentially, form the substance that may lead to community empowerment and creative community development on a local – national level.