Stefan is an artist with a particular interest in publishing both in traditional book format and more recently in multimedia and digital video. Wary of commissions except in response to specific places or communities, he has often worked in artists' collectives. Although the media he uses are chiefly writing, photography and video, they have also included curation, performance and activism. During the 1980s, he became a founder member of the Brixton Artists Collective and set up the Working Press in collaboration with the graphic designer Graham Harwood. More recently, he has been busy 'activating' the archives of his past collective activities.
Brixton Artists Collective (2011)
In 2011, the former members of the Brixton Artists Collective collaborated with 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in working on the Brixton Calling! project, which was set up to examine the links between contemporary Brixton and its past by exploring the history of Brixton Art Gallery in the 1980s. The project brought together artists and communities to explore some of the Gallery’s collaborative artistic approaches to social and political issues and to create new artworks relevant to contemporary Brixton. Between March and November 2011, they led a series of community engagement projects that focused on the first 50 exhibitions held at the gallery between 1983 and 1986. Among these was Stefan's work with Brixton-based photographer Andy Martinez. They designed a project for fifteen local young people to film and interview artists who had shown at the gallery in the 1980s. A DVD was produced, and the unedited interviews became part of the Brixton Art Gallery archives handed over to Tate Archives at the end of the project. You can see a short video of some of them here.
Working Press Archive (2016)
Stefan Szczelkun's experience of being Polish within the Brixton Artists Collective led him to think about his other identity - that of being working class. In 1987, he and Graham Harwood decided to form a group of working class artists who wanted to self-publish books under a collective imprint. Stefan invited almost every working class artist he met to self-publish, whether in written or graphic form. In the following ten years they published eighteen original titles. His definition of 'artists books' was a broad one, including zines, comics and polemical pamphlets circulating in England at the time. Working Press achieved several historical firsts, including the first computer generated comic (by Graham Harwood). The collection, recently acquired by the University of the Creative Arts at Farnham, is unique in that interconnects many issues within alternative cultural and social activity at the time. Among its concerns were the perception of the working class and artists who were black, female or disabled. It also explored the idea of artists as an oppressed group.
During a four-week residency at the University of the Creative Arts earlier this year, Stefan led workshops for students alongside lecturers and archivists Rebekkah Taylor and Carryl Church. Students were given the opportunity to see items in the Working Press Archive and discuss themes within the collection. They were then asked to produce work in response to it which will be added to the archive and made available on UCA's image bank.
http://westminster.academia.edu/StefanSzczelkun/CurriculumVitae, accessed 1 June 2016
Stefan Szczelkun's LinkedIn profile, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/stefanszczelkun, accessed 1 June 2016
Stefan Szczelkun, Brixton Calling! Revisiting the Brixton Art Gallery 1983-1986, https://vimeo.com/32511303, accessed 1 June 2016
UCA Archives, Working Press creative residency, https://ucaarchives.wordpress.com/category/working-press-archive-creative-residency/, accessed 1 June 2016
Working Press: books by and about working class artists 1986-1996, ttp://www.thebookroom.net/ working-press-books-by-and-about-working-class-artists-1986-1996/, accessed 1 June 2016