For The Telling
A collaboration with several other artists (including but not limited to: Warren Draper, Rachel Horne, Phlegm and Mr Fox), to put on a free arts event in the courtyard of a mostly derelict arts college in Doncaster (Church View).
Running on the theme of "It is through stories that we weave our reality", we worked together to pull in local artists and the Church View Trust, to create an incredible evening of music, poetry, performance, stories, art, fire and community - with no money, no electricity, and no hierarchy. People said we couldn't do it. It was a storming success, and we have held three more 'Tellings' since, and raised the profile of Church View to the point that renovation and re-utilisation is underway.
More information on this project, and lots of gorgeous photographs of what went on, can be found on the 'For The Telling' website. For my part, I helped organise and coordinate the event, I liaised with other artists who wanted to join in, I helped, and organised volunteers to help, physically clear the site (lots of rubble), I did my stint behind the bar and on the door, I brought fabrics and taught embroidery (our second event was much more about getting everyone involved), and I created large embroideries to hang around the site. But the most important thing about The Telling is that no one person was in charge. We all worked together on the basis of 'fluid authority' and allowed people to bring their own strengths weave into the creation of an incredible event, which felt like it was in another world. Our favourite comment from our first Telling was "I forgot I was in Doncaster".
Arts & Health Derbyshire Interface conference
I was invited to help design a small annual conference for arts and health practitioners with the brief to enable attendees to "Explore who you are and what you do, and how you fit into your local (and national) context. Meet others who have an arts, health and wellbeing remit and discover your similarities and differences, learning from each other on the way. Delve into the challenges, needs and benefits for Arts and Health work in Derbyshire in 2015 and determine how we can move forward."
I met with the arts officer who was organising the conference, and we discussed what she wanted to fit into the time, and how I could create art that facilitated networking, discussion, and practical recording of what was and was not being done to extend arts and health collaboration in Derbyshire. I created all the 'props' out of recycled materials (mostly paper and cardboard), including a large tree with labelled branches where people could stick leaves to show which area their organisation was working in. This not only encouraged people to think about how and where their work was of benefit, and meet people working in the same areas, but also to see, once all the leaves were on, where the gaps were, and which areas were in need of more support (as it turned out, hardly anyone described their work as beneficial to physical health, for example).
I also ran a fabric flower making workshop, which provided a creative focus for discussions (the flowers were hung up for display, and then people could take theirs home at the end), and created signposts for the Five Ways To Wellbeing which could be reused by Arts Derbyshire for future events.
One person commented that the "artwork was beautiful and uplifting", and the organiser said it "really made the whole afternoon special". So that was nice 🙂
Dr D’Cleyre’s Imaginarium of Wonder, Wyrdness and Curious Tales
Collaboration with Tim Ralphs and Warren Draper, as part of the Right Up Our Street celebration in Doncaster (DNweekeND, 19-21st June). We took over an empty shop unit with stories, masks and a collection of strangeness. With a 'curiosity shop' feel, we invited members of the public to have their imaginations sparked and their creativity poked with curiously labelled exhibits (Per Ekstrom's sackpipa (Swedish bagpipes): granted royal pardon 1976; Ammeter donated by Dr Frankentstein; Tang dynasty bee collecting box...), a 'Please do touch' table of strange things and instruments to pick up, play with, listen to, a secluded Butterfly Garden where you could enjoy the flowers and draw on the floor, and a craft table where I - as Abigail Emila, Masketeer - encouraged people to make their own masks to take away.
Feedback from the public was overwhelmingly positive. My favourite from one teenager, who took a long time to become impressed, was "Extra extraordinary" 🙂 More details on my blog post "Imaginations running wild".
We would love to do this again, and so we are making the Imaginarium available for festivals and events. It can be tweaked to suit different situations, so please get in touch to discuss how we can best fit it in with your ideas.