I’ve got a new and very exciting opportunity ahead of me. I’ve been asked to work with a Care Farm to look at arts council funding to create a programme of arts events, workshops and all things artistic. The setting is very rural and in a different county to where I’m used to working. This will mean forging new relationships, finding a network of artists and challenging myself out of my shy comfort zone.
Some of the challenges I find myself facing are finding out what is in the area already and how can I make this work in a contemporary arts approach. Does heritage arts and crafts have any place?
So much to research! It’s exciting and terrifying in the same breath.
A very contemplative session this week, we visited the German Cemetary on Cannock Chase to explore photography. I’ll let the images speak for themselves. But what an amazing place.
For our first Session, we had a lot of paperwork to get done and wanted to have a chilled out session, where new people could explore the farm surroundings and start to get to know each other.
One of the problems with being so rural is transport, luckily we are able to provide this, especially as some of our participants can be in a financially challenging situation. This has helped break down one of the barriers to accessing the service we provide.
The day was planned to gently run from exploring the areas around the farm into creating a piece of artwork. So after lunch, we when we started making prints from the flora we had collected, the creativity started to shine through, lots of photos being taken and some tentative explorations.
It all stayed very safe, with no one wanting to go off task and make their own artwork, but I’m hoping this will develop over the next few sessions. I would be happy if a few participants would just take it their own way and ignore what I’m doing, that’s when the real magic will start to happen. I’ll be encouraging experimentation as much as possible.
Next session is out and about exploring some of the rural locations in the area and I’m looking forward to working on some land art activities.
So, we have a title.
Our first meeting with directors and staff who will be involved in BEAT was held yesterday.
We applied to Cannock Chase AONB to run a pilot project where we take people with enduring mental health conditions out into different parts of Cannock Chase to participate in some land art activities. This is the start of building evidence towards a larger funding application to run a longer term project.
Yesterday’s meeting at the farm was a chance to catch up and plan the sessions over the summer.
I need to work on how I make this an art project not just a therapeutic programme. I want to research that arts in the area, it’s a stunning bit of land amidst industrialisation and progress. Getting to the farm feels like a drive through intense civilisation with the chance to breath at the end of the journey amidst trees, moorland and farms.
How do I make this area a place of artistic research while I have the opportunity to work with local residents? Could this be an area for Phd research? I feel my head start to implode with the possibilities, but I want this to be a project with dialogue, interaction, creativity and rigour.
After a long wait and resubmission, we have got funding to run an arts project using the outdoors for inspiration, I actually have no information other than a quick WhatsApp message to say this.
Meeting next weekend to discuss further and I will update the blog.
So excited, this a first in the area.
As with all projects, its been quiet here for a while, but I’m happy to say, we have submitted a funding bid to start the ball rolling on our new arts project. Initially we started with big ideas, nothing wrong with dreaming big, but we soon discovered we needed to walk before we could run, so our 8 week pilot project is the first step.
We have been invited to apply for funding locally for this first programme and decided that was a better option that jumping in big for a large arts council bid. We’ll get some experience with arts projects before doing that.
The arts and the benefit for our mental health is well documented, but the literature on arts, outdoors and our mental wellbeing is quite limited. My background with using ecotherapy and forest school techniques has become really helpful with this project and working with respected Mental Health professionals is a real hounour, I’m learning so much from them.
Over this xmas break, I’m going to do some site visits to gain inspiration for how the project will run in terms of making and hopefully do some site specific responses that participants will be able to join in with too.