We had our first online meeting at the end of October 2020. Some of the group members were familiar with using Zoom as a platform, whilst others professed their virginity! It will be interesting to see how successful we are in this task of building an online community.

We began by sharing our ‘inspirations’ – (a practice borrowed from meetings at the Islington Mill Art Academy) – a quick three minutes each to share something we have seen, read, done, experienced or other … It’s usually a positive way of starting a workshop, especially now, when “HOW ARE YOU?” is such a daunting question.

What became apparent was that imagination is key – the ability to mentally travel from the now – (I feel that this is often the role of art?). One participant told us about their preparation for bonfire night, an old cook book with her late mother’s annotations, the smells, the sounds, the experiences shared at this time of year, an imagination of the past that connects us to the present.

As this was our first online meeting, we talked about how the group might function – I had asked one participant to suggest an activity for the group, but she suggested a better idea – that we all put forward an activity and people can choose what they would like to do (co-production already working to improve creative process!). We will re-visit this in the next session. In addition, I set a reading and a task to share some of my thinking behind the project and to give people something to start with.

I was delighted a few days later to be tagged in the above image on instagram, a member of the group sharing how her participation had inspired her to create an amazingly imaginative approach to walking and connecting with nature – now I can’t NOT see the faces of trees and it’s awesome!