Author Archives: Katherine Brown

Showcase Smoothie

 

Showcase Smoothie was project managed by Beauty and Utility Arts for its first three years.

Showcase Smoothie is a major new literature and music based project, led by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) and partnered by a range of arts, health and educationally based organisations. It is Patronised by the internationally acclaimed poet and performer, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, MBE and Championed by Lord Patel of Bradford, OBE; Dr Mohammed Al-Uzri and Dr. Peter Miller, CEO of LPT.

The project was designed to showcase the talents of people with experience of mental health problems, and has a particular focus on young black men. An artistic programme of workshops, mentoring and development, launched in March 2012.

 Showcase collage

Rikke Digerud-Waring – Arts and Dementia

Peg collage x 3

Rikke is a Leicestershire artist Beauty and Utility Arts have worked with on a number of projects and she has very kindly donated two pieces of her own dementia themed artwork, which now sit outside our Atkins Building office in Hinckley. You can drop by and see Rikke’s artwork any time the Atkins building is open.

In Rikke’s own words …

My artwork is often inspired by the human conditions and related to memory, culture and diversity.

I like to take real, everyday objects and transform them into something extraordinary.

This work was created just after my mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia.

I wanted the work to be a tribute to her but also to other people who have been affected by dementia so they could identify with the symptoms.

Orchids:

The last time she stayed with us, before going into a home, Peg would ask again and again what day it was. We would tell her and then a few minutes later she would ask again and get them mixed up. She loved flowers and always tended them with care. The decayed orchids symbolize the decay of memory but are also quite beautiful and poignant in themselves. Just like memory.

Daisies:

Again connecting Peg with flowers, the daisies symbolizes how her memory went “on and off”, bit by bit and in the end she did not remember who I was. A profound moment in any relationship.

Books in Prisons – changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme

Changes made to Incentives and Earned Privileges for prisoners has sparked a huge response from artists, writers, charities, academics, ex prisoners and many many others over the last week.

One implication of these changes is that prisoners can no longer be given books or art materials from outside prison, unless they earn or are given the money to buy them. On all sides of this debate there is agreement that books and basic art materials, such as paper and pencil, are essential for all prisoners – not least because they support safe imprisonment and effective rehabilitation. Koestler Trust statement

Feelings run high around these issues, so I can only speak from the perspective of one individual who set up a Social Enterprise four years ago with one main aim – to develop and manage creative projects with social benefits.

Over the four years I’ve worked with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations all in need of some inspiration, motivation and support to get their message out there or just to improve their own private wellbeing.

In 2012 we partnered on the My Living Voice: Project which aimed to highlight the lived experience of the judicial system by ex- offenders, using arts workshops, materials and art work to raise awareness of issues and barriers faced with resettlement. The project culminated in a very professional exhibition containing some incredible artwork. Yes, this was a community based arts project, but all our participants were self taught in prison and in many cases it was art that gave them the strength to make changes and get through.

Now, each to their own, but I’d like to share a little bit of the feedback from that project and I hope my standpoint on this news issue is clear.

“Prior to prison I had little if no experience of art in the practical sense, and never really contemplated that it would form such a major part of my life. I have received no professional guidance and am completely self taught. I only wish that I had found art earlier in my life. The feeling of tranquillity that I experience when absorbed in this form of expression is to me unique it’s as though I have been granted a new sense of life. I am constantly learning and very much at the commencement of my journey. Through the “My Living Voice” art group I have been able to expand my comfort zone and have been able to push my boundaries into new materials, methods and disciplines. I have so many new avenues to explore.” A – member of the Art Group

Outcome: Increased confidence and well being in participants. Increased skills development in participants.

“The project has given me a focus – something to achieve and helped me get back into something I haven’t done for a while. It has given me a chance to look back at my life and get things in perspective. Also it ties in with the fact that I am going into rehab quite soon. I do have a chance to change things and this project has helped me to see that. It has given a focus and purpose back into my life.” J – member of the Art Group

Outcome: Reduced likelihood of misuse of substances/deterioration of health/mental wellbeing.

The Exhibition – An exhibition of the work produced by the Art Group took place in December 2012 at St Nicholas Church in Leicester. The poster for the exhibition and its title, “The Man Inside”, were ideas and designs from group members. Over 200 people came to the exhibition. The art work was available for sale with profits partly going to the artists and partly to fund a continuation of the art beyond the Innovation Challenge Programme. A number of exhibits were chosen to go on display at New Walk Art Gallery, Leicester.

Outcomes: Public awareness raised of personal experiences of judicial system and barriers to resettlement of ex-offenders via a number of open events.

“My Living Voice gave residents the opportunity to channel their feelings and thoughts, of their experiences of the Criminal Justice System, into paintings, sculptures, installations and scripts. It has also given them the opportunity to develop their confidence and attain new skills. The supportive environment within which the programme was delivered allowed residents to not only be within a learning environment but also to build positive peer relations. “ Viv Michell, Regional Manager Adullam

Look what we made! – Completing our Donnington intergenerational project

On Tuesday we completed our Donnington le Heath based intergenerational project, working with participatory artist Rikke Digerud and film maker Trevor Cobbe.

There were hugs and kisses and once again I felt a little bit sad at our work coming to a close – until I spent some time looking back over the photos and film and now I’m just happy we were there, sharing five fantastic weeks with some real characters, old and young and we’re already planning something new!

During our final session together Trevor and I filmed some evaluation interviews with the adults and children who had taken part, while Rikke supported buddies making thank-you cards for each other.

Below are a few photos of some cards and above are the finished pieces of artwork held by me (left) and Rikke (right). I usually hate having my photo taken, but this one made me smile – we were only messing about with this pose, but I quite like it (let’s hope Rikke does too 😉

Agar Nook community centre in Coalville will take one piece away with them and our older residents will have the other for their communal lounge area.

Just to remind you how we did it, Rikke and I worked with our group on a WW1 theme, looking at poetry, animals and words that derived from the conflict. Rikke prepared the wood with maps depicting WW1 locations and together we all made wire WW1’s covered with yarn, sewed WW1 words onto mini cushions, which then had the Union Jack added on by Rikke and created papier mache pigeons and poppies.

I really love the end result and once again, all those ladies who told us they “couldn’t do art” … really? 🙂

‘A Book of Me’ – soft launch

Yesterday we soft launched our resource produced for borough residents recently diagnosed with dementia.

By Katherine Brown
May 21st 2014

Beauty and Utility Arts have been commissioned by The Hinckley and Bosworth Health and Wellbeing Partnership to develop a dementia resource for residents of Hinckley and Bosworth. After working with and listening to individuals and organisations across the area ‘A Book Of Me’ has been produced and will be offered to people after a recent diagnosis of dementia later on this year. The folder is a place to store and find relevant information together with sections designed to stimulate conversation and memories.

Katherine Brown, Director of Beauty and Utility Arts “This week is National Dementia Awareness Week and we wanted to let local people know about the resource we have been designing. A Book of Me has been very well received during its development stages and we are looking forward to launching it fully later on this Summer.”

Simon Jones, Health Lead at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council said “The Hinckley and Bosworth Health and Wellbeing Partnership have commissioned this folder as part of its work to provide the best health information and guidance to people in the borough. Working in partnership with Beauty and Utility Arts we intend that this book will become integral to the support package enabling people to live well with Dementia.”

The photo shows us holding the resource in front of some of intergenerational work at an awareness event yesterday with l – r Howard Wilkins – Dementia Champion, Katherine Brown -Director of Beauty and Utility Arts, Juanita Vogel – contributor, Lindsay Orton Locality Mental Health Strategic Co-ordinator at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Two new intergenerational projects for 2014

Intergenerational work is something I really love setting up and getting involved in. You never quite know how a project is going to run or what kind of responses you’ll get from those participating.

Last year Beauty and Utility Arts were successful with two applications for intergenerational funding and since January we’ve been happy and busy with workshops.

The first set of four workshops ran in Ashby de la Zouch between Lewis Charlton School, for secondary-aged students who have experienced difficulties within mainstream and possibly other special education provision and EMH Homes Prior Park site, which provides sheltered and retirement housing for older people.

Workshops were co-facilitated by Katherine Brown (Beauty and Utility Arts) and participatory artist Lisa Pidgeon (Little Bird School of Stitchcraft) and filmed by Trevor Cobbe. The project was funded by the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Partnership for LeicesterShire and Rutland’s Wellbeing Hi 5 programme.

FB collage Ashby intergenerational.jpg

The second series of workshops are currently underway between children from Agar Nook Community Centre in Coalville and older residents from St. Mary’s Court in Donnington le Heath.

This time Katherine has co-facititated with participatory artist Rikke Digerud and film maker Trevor Cobbe. Funding came from the North West Leicestershire Staying Healthy Community Grant.

Donnington collage 18.3.14.jpg

In both sets of workshops our theme has been WW1, linking in with the 100 year anniversary of the conflict and in the weeks to come we’ll be releasing a DVD for our funders showing the benefits of intergenerational Arts and Health activities in more detail.

Brand new 365 day #5ways2wellbeing project

So, it’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow and I’m ready to start a new Beauty and Utility Arts challenge.

Challenges stimulate my mind and this one will focus on my favourite thing about our work … finding innovative, creative, visual and powerful ways for us to engage with more people by listening…learning…responding to what makes people tick and how that impacts on our work with communities and individuals across Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

Our 365 day wellbeing project uses the five ways to wellbeing evidence based actions developed by the new economics foundation, now in use all over the country  inspiring discussions and actions around health and wellbeing in our everyday lives.

We use the five ways to wellbeing as much as possible as a simple, effective tool and now I’d like to do something different.

Every day I will Tweet an action and a picture based on one of the five ways to wellbeing (see below) using the hashtag #5ways2wellbeing and I’d like everybody else out there to do the same. That way we can see a bigger picture, throughout the seasons, of what makes the UK tick when it comes to wellbeing.

There will be guest posts along the way, starting on 1st January with a very special guest, short interviews to view and at the end of each month we’ll pull together all the tweets and pictures for all to see.

I hope you’ll be in on this with me and spread the word far and wide, because the more people who get involved, the better.

Five ways to wellbeing graphic

Launching our You Tube channel on Alcohol Awareness Week …

Beauty and Utility Arts now has a You Tube channel so we can share even more of our Arts and Health work with you.

The launch has tied in nicely with Alcohol Awareness Week ( 18th – 22nd November) and the release of a piece of work we’ve been busy with since the Summer on the topic of alcohol misuse.

Together with Lunchbox Films Beauty and Utility Arts worked with adults within council supported alcohol groups covering Hinckley and Bosworth, Oadby and Wigston to develop short film for selected local secondary schools. In addition we’ve produced a teacher’s pack for Key Stage 3 and 4 students.

‘By combining the knowledge and lived experience of all project partners and participants we hope we have produced a piece of animation and schools training pack designed to educate, stimulate independent thinking and encourage informed personal choices around the subject of alcohol misuse.’ Katherine – Director, Beauty and Utility Arts

We’re giving you advice based on our own real life stories.’  A 

Take a look at the video here and get in touch for further details about the pack or producing something similar for your own organisation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGg4u6Qi4v4&feature=youtu.be