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After the completion and learnings of the Harold Hill Community Mural project, we approached The Orchard Collective Creators (TOCC) to propose a more consistent and evolved art project with the people of their community. Our idea was to deliver a programme of art workshops and socials that works towards creating a community mural made by the residents of the village. An artwork to reflect the mindfulness and creativity that is held in the area, and something they can truly be proud of.

Through lots of discussion and feedback we responded to the TOCC reflections and collaboratively moved forward in creating taster sessions in order to get a feel for the area and what we all felt was really needed and wanted.

Over the course of 3 months we experimented with days and times for sessions that would suit the general community in the village. Early mornings, lunchtimes, early evenings and weekends and tried a variety of structures that could work during a session.

We started by initiating projects where we brought people together to create one artwork. We built a cardboard village, where residents reflected on where they live and began noticing the little details that make their environment unique leaving a lasting feeling of being proud of their town. We also took a mindful approach to creating a mandala piece, exploring the things that we love to do through collaging. These workshops really brought people together, there were lots of discussions between strangers leading to each participant taking sections of the artwork to work on and collectively deciding on what and how the work should be presented and taking ownership over the piece.

We continued reflecting with TOCC as the sessions were live. We evolved the approach of making artwork together, by weaving in the opportunity for people to make individual pieces that can be placed in their home as a reminder of their time being creative. And then we thought…how about some food too! It will really help settle participants into the session and encourage the social atmosphere we were aiming for. So we carried on, each session we tried new things. Art for everyone, art for individuals, snacks, pizza, music and meditation! We introduced new tasters with twists such as ‘Take off Your Mask’ - a coffee morning with a discussion on the roles we all play in life. ‘Art & Jam’ - a lunchtime session with tea and scones, and ‘Meditate & Create’ a more chilled session with meditation music and some print-making. In each session we moved towards giving more room for participants to experiment with new techniques and materials introduced. Mono-printing, Block printing, Collagraph printing, drawing and collaging. Playing around with textures, inks, paint and magazines. This was enhancing the ethos that everyone is an artist! Resulting in people expressing real surprise about what they had been able to do.

And what a wonderful response we had, we listened intently documenting the journey at each and every moment!

Overheard comments were:

‘I enjoyed having the freedom to use my creativity’

‘Its really nice to do something different’

‘Art puts you in touch with who you are’

‘I love the music, it is very healing’

‘A relaxed and friendly environment to be creative and have a chat’

‘How wonderful that these sessions are open to families’

We are so happy that we can create a safe space for people to be creative without the worry of having to be good at it, by valuing the process over the result. Not one person was shy in making, or questioned their ability. Our aims in the beginning were to encourage people who enjoy being creative, enjoy meeting people and being social, and people who do not think they are good at art but enjoy being creative. And we are excited to continue the journey, giving room for change and encouraging suggestions from participants. Because ultimately it is not about doing art AT people, it is about creating an environment for people that they can steer in the direction they want and have the chance to try things. And collaboratively. The dynamics of the sessions were positive, reflective, buzzing and inclusive. And we are just helping to facilitate that.

So for now, we’ve found our regular ART JAM. Every third Saturday of the month and every first Tuesday of the month! We will be working towards creating a mural alongside making individual pieces, eating together, listening to music and inspiring each other. There is still so much room to grow and we are excited to continue the exploration of the process of making.


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