The ‘Revealing Wisbech’ project for me has been about spending time working closely with local community groups and finding them creative opportunities for engagement with the Arts in some of the great venues across Wisbech. Having grown up locally, I am personally investment in the area and these communities. I understand the need for Arts and working as an Community Artist myself I know the extensive creative benefits which can spread from bringing the right cultural opportunities to a community.
The project has been about finding local talented Artist, Musicians, Actors and Creatives and linking them with some of the community groups in Wisbech and finding them the right setting. By bringing these three elements together I have been able to produce a programme of ten exciting, challenging and engaging Arts events.
We are currently in the full swing of the programme but the first series of workshops which kicked off the project was with a wonderful group of ladies called the ‘Craft and Chatter’ Group who meet weekly at the Oasis Community Centre.
After going in and meeting with these ladies over a cup of tea I heard about their shared passion for craft activities and that this valued group was made up of members who relied on it as a space to socialize, share stories as well as enhance their making skills. Finding out that the group was struggling for funding to keep going my aim was to provide them with two free workshops where their could visit a local venue for inspiration and then in turn work with a professional Artist to learn some new art skills.
After chatting to ladies I found out that most of them had never been to Wisbech Museum even though it was right on their doorstep. This little museum which is packed with fascinating objects was the perfect starting point to inspire some art making. So I organised for the group to be transported to museum on the 3rd July and have their own personal guided visit with Education Officer Sara Hawkes.
Sara provided the group with the chance to handle Egytian objects from the museum’s extensive collection and learn all about the process of mummification – in some detail! This was followed by a collage activity where the group used mixed media materials to design their own colourful Egyptian ‘Death Masks’. The group was buzzing afterwards saying they ‘’ Really enjoyed it’’ and ‘‘Definitely will be coming back to the Museum to spend more time here’’ which was great to hear.
The group had mentioned they wanted to work with clay next and I knew I the perfect Artist in mind…
So the second part of the project involved getting renowned regional Artist Cordelia ‘Doo’ Spalding to visit the ‘Craft and Chatter Group’ at the Oasis Centre on the 12th July for a masterclass in clay sculpture inspired by Egyptian Art. This time the ladies learnt techniques and skills which allowed them to developed their 2D ideas into 3D sculptures with some fantastic results. Cordelia was really impressed by the creativity of the group. Have a look at the photos from Dan Donovan.
I feel the future steps for this project would be to build a series of workshops for this group and others like it where we could visit different historical venues in Wisbech and the local area which then could lead into bringing in different Artists to work with the group in a range of mediums.
As well as being a ‘Creative Agent’ I work as an Artist and Artist Educator delivering workshops to all ages in a range of art mediums across the East. Therefore I was able to use these skills to personally deliver the next workshop as part of the ‘Wisbech Reads’ Festival on the 9th of July. The festival was a fantastic few days which saw exciting activities spread across Wisbech celebrating the work of Roald Dahl.
My workshop was a family friendly free drop-in session held at the wonderful setting of St Peter’s Lodge in the heart of Wisbech. Here we welcomed families in from the rain and offered them a cup of tea as well as the chance to learn some new art skills and techniques.
We used a simple print making technique called ‘mono-printing’ and created prints inspired by drawings of our favourite book characters. The activity drew in people of all ages and was lovely to see whole families really getting stuck in and not being afraid to get a little messy!
The future steps for the project would be to nurture the relationship with Wisbech Read Festival for future years as well as utilising St Peter’s Lodge as a fantastic venue in the heart of the town.
— by Kaitlin Ferguson