Since May 2015, Jo Dacombe and I have been working with the Learning Team at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on their action research project ‘Learning Together’, exploring new ways to engage families. We worked with families from five schools in the Wakefield District, looking at lots of different ways to interact with and interpret the sculpture and landscape.
As a result of our discoveries, we have developed some resources and activities for families to use to increase their enjoyment and understanding while visiting the Park, which should be available sometime in 2016.
On 27th November 2015 the conference ‘Finding Our Voice’ was held at Nottingham Contemporary to share learning from the Loudspeaker project with delegates from the creative, voluntary, education, health and criminal justice sectors. As the artists who delivered this innovative project for women facing complex life challenges, Jo Dacombe and I spoke about our experiences of working with around 70 women from Nottingham over the past three years, and how contemporary art and creative practice can play a positive role in engaging and supporting people.
A short film essay made by myself, Jo Dacombe and Ben Harriott with women who had participated in Loudspeaker was screened. You can watch the film here.
Dementia and Imagination: Making Connections through Contemporary Art
I worked with artist Jo Dacombe and Researcher Dr Kat Taylor to curate and present an exhibition of artwork made by people with dementia at the Saints Parish Centre in Chesterfield.
The works were made as part of a major national research study taking place in Derbyshire NHS services during arts interventions in clinical settings led by myself and other artists from Nottingham Contemporary.
Over 300 people across the UK participated in this research exploring how art can improve the lives of people with dementia, and impact on the communities around them. “It wasn’t just meeting people it was sharing an experience that was interesting. It made me connect to people again and that’s been so important to me.”
On 10th April 2015, I installed the exhibition Journeys of Ideas which I curated with work produced during the first Look Up course.
Look Up helps people in Nottingham who are looking for work by offering participants a fresh perspective on how they view themselves and their futures. The project is a one-year partnership between Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham City Libraries funded by Arts Council England. I developed and delivered the first Look Up course to 14 participants.
This exhibition was my reflection on the personal and collective journeys participants have been making in their exploration of libraries, contemporary art and ideas. Journeys of Ideas shows artworks by the participants and also traces routes they have travelled during the course and in their lives.
‘The Gallery of Thoughts and Feelings’ is a sculpture for schools to use to with their children when discussing emotional issues and developing their language to communicate how they feel. It is part of a resource called ‘Feelings in your hands’ I have developed with women from Loudspeaker.
Loudspeaker is a three year project based at Nottingham Contemporary and in partnership with the community charity, Changing Lives. Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Loudspeaker aims to raise the voices, self-esteem and aspirations of local women through contemporary art.
At last I have a new website that reflects my current work and practice.
2014 has been a busy year.
Among the highlights have been the Imagine project, a AHRC funded Connected Communities research programme with The Hepworth Wakefield and University of Sheffield where I worked with young people to explore how an art gallery collection can be used to facilitate them feel more socially connected with the city where they live.
I have also been working on another AHRC funded research programme, Dementia & Imagination through my role as Associate Artist at Nottingham Contemporary. We have been working in hospitals in Derbyshire delivering a series of creative activities linked to the Gallery’s exhibitions, providing research material for psychologists about how working with the visual arts can improve quality of life and support people with dementia being more part of their communities. This project is continuing through 2015.
I have worked with hundreds of children and young people at both Nottingham Contemporary and The Hepworth Wakefield, both in and outside formal education, looking at and discussing the exhibitions and making creative responses to them. Many of these children and young people have never been to an art gallery before and it’s great to see how much they get from engaging with the art and how much they enjoy experimenting with materials and making their own artwork.
2014 was the second year of Loudspeaker, an on-going series of workshops for women at Nottingham Contemporary in partnership with Changing Lives, which I deliver alongside another Associate Artist, Jo Dacombe. I am always inspired by the work the women make exploring the gallery exhibitions and their own identity.
I have had some time to make my own sculpture too, with a new collection of works; AW14.
I will continue to post in News what I am doing in the coming months and years.