The Creative Living Celebration at Cantley Close, Shelton Lock was a chance for residents to exhibit art work created during art sessions over the past 7 months. Participants also demonstrated their dance moves learnt through weekly workshops with dancers Isobel & Danni. It was such a joyous & memorable occasion with other residents, family, friends, volunteers & project partners calling in to join the celebration.
Over this time the art group has formed bringing people together from Cantley Close & the local area to enjoy art activities each week. Friendships have been forged and it has been wonderful to see how an interest in art, their confidence and skills in painting and drawing have grown over this time. I have been delivering arts projects & workshops for 13 years now, through this time I have become increasingly aware of the benefits the arts can bring to people’s health & well being. This experience at Cantley Close has clearly shown the positive power art can have on people’s lives & I feel privileged to have played a part in it. The participants have been very thankful for the work we have done but I am also very grateful for the experience this project & the people involved have given me. This opportunity to nurture creativity in the over 55s has truly been a joy. To deliver a longer term pilot project from beginning to end has meant I could learn from the residents adapting my delivery to help nurture their creativity to the best of my ability. The volunteers have been a fantastic support and they have become friends to us all too.
I came to this project with a core belief everyone is an artist. At the beginning of the sessions I introduced Picasso’s quote:
“Every child is an artist the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”
Few of the residents initially believed me and as sadly often happens, they told me many reasons why they couldn’t draw & paint sharing with me past experiences where they were led to believe they couldn’t do art. Some of the participants had never had the opportunity to draw & paint. However they were willing to have a go & each week they have embraced the art activities learning new skills & techniques, often surprising themselves with their achievements.
Each week I have shared my own artistic processes & that of other artists. Bringing the the natural world to the sessions, observing closely the changing seasons and the endless creative possibilities it can give to us. Supporting their new found artistic journey has been delightful. Bringing all the work together for this exhibition was an exciting end to this stage of the project. Their favourite pieces were framed & their sketchbooks and other work was on display alongside for all to see. Visitors looked & listened with great interest & delight.
There are many stories in this group of how art is making a positive difference to the participant’s lives. They have all recently been working on their art at home too and they are very supportive of each other celebrating each others achievements. It was wonderful to see them making plans to continue the group on their own, working together to buy materials & gather resources.
Sadly my time with the group has come to an end I felt very emotional to leave them, but I am delighted they have decided to continue their artistic journey independently which was a key aim of this project. They will be in my heart forever & I am sure I will keep in touch with them. Victoria Brown