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.
I love libraries.
The smell and feel of well handled books, the memories of visits as a child with hair still wet from the swimming baths, the potential for learning and discovering all come flowing back into my mind as I step into one.
Beauty and Utility Arts has been working closely with North West Leicestershire District Council on a number of arts and health initiatives recently and back on October we teamed up with Lisa Pidgeon of Little Bird School of Stitchcraft.
Lisa’s blogpost on her own website sums the whole experience up perfectly, so we hope you enjoy…
Wellbeing Hi-5 :: Bombing Coalville Library
The Knitting Gurrillas of Birstall (KGB) were recruited to do a special yarn bomb and participants were invited to hide allsorts of little items on the bookshelves and between the pages of books. Yarn bombing is a way of brightening up an area and, in the case of the KGB, making people smile…
Mr Hissing Sid liked the nature section…
The mice liked it in the children’s section especially the little dark corners…
The younger borrowers had fun yarn bombing…
And later we enlisted the elder borrowers to have a go at hiding woolly gifts between the pages of books. Pink for pink lovers…
Bookworms for the classic readers…
Crafty bookworms for the craft lovers…
Points of Interest: Art on the Move is an Arts and Health Walks project that for the past three months has met on a weekly basis to go out walking and produce some wonderful artworks.
With an emphasis on walking being good for mental health as well as physical health we visited Bradgate Park, Coventry Transport Museum, Hollycroft Park and Coalville’s Art Trail; along with the help of artist Julia Smith participants have produced artworks depicting the four walks whilst exploring different methods of art by using paint, pastels and print.
We are now exhibiting the group’s fabulous work in the Atkins Building’s reception area from June 7th until July 12th, we invite you to visit and enjoy the wonderful work made.
For more information on how to get to the Atkins Building please go to http://www.atkinsbuilding.co.uk/contact/
Check in again next week for photos, quotes and even an interview with artist Julia Smith as we celebrate Points of Interest and the unveiling of some lovely art!
Seeking the Land Unknown in Hinckley
I once read a book by Lucy Lippard called “The Lure of the Local”, about returning to places that she knows and how people have relationships to places. So when I set out on a walk with the Friday group from Beauty & Utility Arts, to explore the local area in Hinckley, I was intrigued to see how they might look at their local place and how I, as an outsider, might see it.
Before I came I sent the group a map of the area around the Atkins Building, our starting point, with suggestions for several walks that they might like to do. I asked them to choose one. I was hugely encouraged when the message came back that, no, they had not opted for exploring the picturesque or pretty parks or gardens, they had chosen to go through the Industrial Estate to a brook intriguingly named the “Battling Brook”! At that point I knew that this group were true explorers after my own heart!
And what an adventure it was! We had a road map to guide us, but if you look on the road map the area that we were interested in was a big blank space, no features mapped there at all. We talked about how, when the first maps were being drawn up and areas of the world remained undiscovered, early mapmakers would leave huge areas blank and simply write “terra incognita” there (meaning “land unknown”). We were in search of our own local terra incognita.
It was tricky to locate the exact area of the terra incognita. Many old factories stood there, the old sock factory, and behind it an impressive radio tower which turned out to be part of the National Grid. We had a brief run-in with National Grid’s security who were not amused by our attempts to photograph the tower, and we had to delete the pictures! Feeling rather excited by our new status as agents of espionage, we then went on to explore: through a hole in a fence a vast concrete wasteland, spying a bridge in the distance; we admired a campervan for sale and dreamt of the freedom of the road; we followed a path along a hedge of blackberries promising good foraging for the autumn; and finally located the brook, with tales of boats, one of us had a lovely tale about a boat he nearly bought but returned to find it half submerged, where he believes it still is.
Having found the Battling Brook and speculating on how it got its name, we continued by following our noses to find a way back. Katherine was adamant that we must make a circular route and not go back on ourselves, so we wound our way through alleyways (more naming games here, should we call them jetties, passageways, alleys or cut-throughs, and what’s the difference?) and around houses, past a beautiful old church and a dilapidated building with broken windows and rusted panels, until we made it back to the Atkins Building.
Going through our photos we started to put together a map of where we had found all these “moments of beauty”, which I hope the group will continue to work on. We discussed the idea of beauty and how different people find different things beautiful. We had found beauty in nature, decay, industrial structures, old buildings, water, fences, stories… and all within less than a mile of our starting point! It just goes to show that, when you look at the world like an artist, trying to find those “moments of beauty”, even what you thought were familiar surroundings can reveal surprising richness and an astonishing amount of interesting detail.
There is so much more to explore in Hinckley! We hope to do some more walks in the future to further explore the “lure of the local”, and I look forward to that… what will we find next time?
Find out more about joining our Points of Interest group by contacting Katherine on 07908 750187 and find out more about Jo Dacombe at http://jodacombe.blogspot.com