Creative Chat ‘n’ Blog – Kaitlin Ferguson

Listen to Kaitlin’s podcast episode here.

I am an environmental artist based in Norwich, my artistic practice crosses between many disciplines, but my particular focus is on sculpture, drawing and printmaking. 

As an extension of this I also create participatory projects which involve working with people, connecting them with nature through artistic activities. Before lockdown, this involved traveling across the country, working with audiences of all ages.

At the start of lockdown, all of the projects I had been working on got cancelled or postponed, within the matter of a few days, this was a scary state to be in as a freelancer! 

Then, with more time on my hands, I had a chance to pause and reflect. I decided to use this time as a chance to teach myself some new skills; video recording and editing. I also taught myself how to use a series of digital design packages.

One of the first projects I was able to use these digital skills on was a commission from MarketPlace as part of their ‘Creative Conversations in Isolation’ programme. I created a four-part video series entitled ‘Art and the Fens’ exploring different environment aspects of the Fens and shared ideas for how to make different creative responses. 

Activities included making a recording card for documenting a walk, how to make a pocket sketchbook to draw in, a video on anthotype printing using food and spices, and finally a video about using textiles to explore Fenland geology.  

It was important to me that the videos felt relaxed and like a conversation between me and the viewer. I also decided I wanted to create a handy guide to each video for people or download or print, hopefully making the project even more accessible.

Working in lockdown has really made me miss connecting with the people, and even though I know the videos can’t replace the joy of being in the same room, they are an important way for people to connect with others in isolation and use creativity for its therapeutic and relaxing benefits.

Since the project, I have been incorporating my newfound video and digital design skills into all of the other projects I am working on. I’ve found that, even though it can take a little while to get the hang of, using videos can be a really helpful way to share your ideas and artwork with others.

Written by artist Kaitlin Ferguson.

Listen to Kaitlin’s podcast episode here.

Read about Kaitlin’s Art and the Fens project here.

Creative Chat ‘n Blog – Marian Savill

Listen to Marian’s podcast episode here.

As we entered lockdown in March 2020, I watched my personal plans for the year fade away with the loss of workshops, events and my first foray into participating in Cambridge Open Studios. I soon realised though that this was an opportunity to reflect on and develop my practice, and to try new ways of creating and delivering. 

Lockdown offered me opportunities to explore delivering via video tutorials when Creative People and Places: MarketPlace offered me the chance to make a series of films on art journaling. I have always used recycled materials in my work and sharing ways to create with limited or no specific art materials was an enjoyable experience albeit on a steep learning curve with the video skills element! 

Screenshot from Marian Savill's Art Journalling video workshops. Pictured is Marian experimenting on her desk with paint, pens, pencils and collaging in colourful handmade books.
Marian talking about using words in one of her art journaling videos.

Over the summer of 2020, I started to experiment with new techniques, things I’d wanted to try but never found the time for. Some of the many techniques I tried included eco dyeing, making charcoal, natural weaving, anthotypes, and making natural glues and inks. A lot of these techniques have helped me in my ongoing process of greening my arts practice, making it more eco-friendly, and reducing the carbon footprint of my work, materials and processes.

Another joy of lockdown was being able to attend online workshops from across the world which would not have been possible in real life. I learned about different artists, watched lectures on art history and created art in lots of different media including drawing, collage, painting, stitching, and paper folding. I have also had more time to collaborate with artists both in the UK and the USA, working on round robin altered books and collage projects.

Part of a collaborative project with a US based artist.
Part of a collaborative project with a US based artist.

Lockdown has been difficult in a lot of ways, of course, and I knew making art and being creative would help me through it but I never anticipated that it would offer me so much time and space for creative exploration and learning, open new trains of thought for projects and artwork and allow me to extend my understanding of my practice and processes. Covid-19 has changed many things for me and now the world is inching towards a new normal, I find myself grateful for what the last eighteen months has taught me and given me. 

Written by artist, Marian Savill.


Listen to Marian’s podcast episode here.

Read about Marian’s Art Journaling project here.

Creative Chat ‘n’ Blog – Genevieve Rudd

Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode here.

On the day I spoke to David, with Marian Savill, it was the one year anniversary of the first Lockdown. Whilst it wasn’t timed to be the start of the blog series, as far as I’m aware (!), it did shape the drift of our conversation. But then again, has anyone been talking or thinking about anything other than COVID-19 for the past year? It has felt completely all encompassing, but the conversation with the three of us reminded me that taking the time for social connection can help put things into perspective.

A photo of artist Genevieve Rudd smiling with a Waveney & Blyth art trail leaflet.

As an artist, I have lots of ways to keep my mind occupied, but Lockdown has been universally energy sapping. Despite this, the lack of usual habits or access to resources gave way to inventiveness. This is something that chimed with Marian too. Both of us thrifty at the best of times, it was inspiring to hear how she also found new life for unwanted stuff, and how this connected with her wider lifestyle values around veganism and reducing waste.

Lockdown has encouraged more ‘localised’ thinking on the whole – such as doorstep clapping, mutual aid groups and window rainbows – we’ve all been forced to re-consider our relationships to our immediate environment. For many, this has been a suffocating experience, and for others, it has given a sense of freedom from their daily slog. Whatever the situation, it’s brought us all face-to-face with our own domestic reality in very close detail. For me, that detail has shown me the value in simplicity. 

Marian was inspiring to talk to; I’d never heard of ‘doodads’, but she has been doing #A100DaysOfDoodads. These mini sculptural pieces are made from tomato puree tubes, scrap fabric, threads, leaves, wire, stones and all sorts of things she found around her home over the past few months! I love this ethos and in my own practice, I have been exploring approaches with foraged, edible and recycled materials, and in turn, making my practice more sustainable. This explorations have predominantly been using Cyanotype and Anthotype photography, using plants and compost from my garden. 

‘Soil Circles’ 1 of 6. Cyanotype photographic print made using collected rainwater, home-made compost, recycled paper and sunlight, 5th-6th March 2021. Copyright Genevieve Rudd.
‘Soil Circles’ 1 of 6. Cyanotype photographic print made using collected rainwater, home-made compost, recycled paper and sunlight, 5th-6th March 2021. Copyright Genevieve Rudd.

This year has been many things, but one silver lining has been the time spent exploring and treasuring the small overlooked details of life, particularly in relation to the natural world. This year, I’m running an Arts Council England funded project, Yarmouth Springs Eternal, in partnership with original projects; in Great Yarmouth. We’re nurturing relationships with the natural world found in overlooked places through walking and art-making. If there is one thing I’ll keep from this last year, it’s to embrace simplicity, and from Marian, it’s the ‘use what you already have’ mentality! 

Written by artist, Genevieve Rudd.


Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode here.

Read about Genevieve’s project Lets Take a Walk here.

Evaluation Case Study: Tea and Tasters and Going Digital

This case study is part of our project evaluation for 2019/2020.

We’ve worked with Shelby, owner of the lovely Barleycorn Cafe in Mildenhall on creative projects over the last few years. Before the pandemic, we were running a series of taster sessions with local Meet Up Mondays group and creative practitioners from the region. The group enjoyed the activities and the company, feeling less isolated and more connected.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything and we had to stop the live programme. To keep something going, we worked with The Barleycorn and artist Marian Savill during the first lockdown to create a series of ‘make along’ videos about Art Journaling.

Find out the difference this project has made and the challenges of delivering online as we all adjusted to doing more things digitally.

Download the full Tea and Tasters and Going Digital case study here.

Read the full 2019/20 evaluation report here.

An excerpt from the case study:

The Barleycorn Cafe in Mildenhall is only three years old, but has become a hub in the community. They decided to start a Meet-up Monday group, hoping to tackle loneliness and isolation by offering a free cuppa and a place to chat and meet people. Working with owner Shelby and a group of regular Meet Up Monday members a taster arts programme was established to reach new audiences, create new art opportunities locally and increase well-being.

Tea and Tasters

A series of taster workshops were delivered with different artists for the group to choose one they would like to work with the longer term. 

These workshops included: 

  • creative journalling 
  • singing 
  • printmaking 
  • ceramics 
  • expressive drawing 

Pictured: Three photos from the taster workshops. Left: For this workshop, the group were trying singing with singing teacher, Sally Rose. Sally is grinning while sat on a chair with a little guitar. Middle: The group were trying pottery. In this photo, Clare the artist is showing a member of the group how to throw a pot on a potters wheel. Right: The group were trying screenprinting. In the photo the group are sitting and standing around a large long table, with rollers, paint and printing stamps scattered on the table.

Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. Participants: 14, Engagements: 50, Artists: 5.

Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. Participants: 14, Engagements: 50, Artists: 5.

The group decided to pursue additional singing sessions alongside holding a longer creative journaling project using a democratic vote.

The plans for additional journaling workshops were curtailed by the pandemic. This resulted in a commission for mixed media artist Marian Savill to produce four online tutorials to journal from home, using resources you would find around the house.

Extending the commission in this way was a means of continuing to maintain the group’s connectivity. As well as to manage further isolation for this vulnerable group and transition activity into digital outputs in a meaningful way.

Pictured: Two photos from the taster workshops. Left: The group were trying pastels. In this photo, a large piece of paper has been covered in drawings in pastel, including images of coffee cups, flowers and words like “sun” and “hope”. Right: The group were trying art journaling. In this photo, a table is covered in magazines and collages.

Art Journaling with Marian Savill

Screenshot from Marian Savill's Art Journalling video workshops. Pictured is the opening image for Marian's workshop. It reads "Art Journaling with Marian Savill" in collaged letters.

Pictured: The opening image for Marian’s workshop. It reads “Art Journaling with Marian Savill” in collaged letters.

Initially the commission was developed as an experience for the Meet Up Mondays group to continue their journlling activity with Marian, during the first national lockdown through April – May 2020.

Marian was commissioned to make a series of four workshop tutorials and an introductory promo video. The tutorials cover how to make a book, creating backgrounds, adding text and embellishing your journal.

To mirror in-person experiences, the videos were launched weekly, on a Monday at 10am, within a Facebook event on the CPP MarketPlace account and the Barleycorn Facebook page.

Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. Event Attendees: 11, Views: 319, Videos: 5.

Pictured: Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. Event Attendees: 11, Views: 319, Videos: 5.

Pictured: Two screenshots from Marian Savill’s Art Journalling workshops. In the images Marian experiments on her desk with paint, wax crayons and collaging in colourful handmade books.

Download the full Tea and Tasters and Going Digital case study here.

Read more about one of the online taster sessions Art Journaling with Marian Savill and the Barleycorn cafe here.

Evaluation Case Study: Art in the Fens

This case study is part of our project evaluation for 2019/2020.

Art in the Fens with artist Kaitlin Ferguson was one of the first Creative Conversations in Isolation commissions. With Kaitlin, we trialled new ways to use digital creative activity to encourage connection with the green spaces on our doorsteps.

We’ve worked with Kaitlin before on the Brandon Tales and Trails event so this was an opportunity to respond to the changes we all faced in the pandemic through different creative activity. People were finding connections or reconnecting with nature on their daily walks during lockdown and Kaitlin’s project showed simple art projects and interesting techniques to make a creative response to the Fenland landscape.

Download the full Art in the Fens case study here.

Read the full 2019/20 evaluation report here.

An excerpt from the case study:

Kaitlin was commissioned to deliver four online ‘make along’ tutorials to be shared through IGTV on Instagram and promoted through new environmental partner networks that align with current strategic activity in Fenland.

Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. Facebook: 1016, Youtube: 158, Twitter: 2502, Instagram: 231.
Graphic showing participation and audience numbers.
Facebook: 1016, Youtube: 158, Twitter: 2502, Instagram: 231.

The videos were shared through our social media channels over four weeks. The launch of the project coincided with ‘Celebrate the Fens Day on 20th June 2020, which was hosted by @FascinatingFens.

Pictured above: Two screenshots of Kaitlin’s video workshops – On the left, drawing plant materials from observation, and on the right using felt to create a textural representation of the soft strata of the Fenland landscape.

Download the full Art in the Fens case study here.

Read more about the Art in the Fens project and watch the short series of workshops by Kaitlin Ferguson here.

Evaluation Case Study: New Skills for New Ways of Working

This case study is part of our project evaluation 2019/2020

In this case study we’re looking at the ways we responded to the pandemic as a team, how we reviewed and changed our ways of working. Unlike many arts organisations who had to close venues, the Creative People and Places national programme continued working with local communities throughout the lockdowns of 2020, but we had to approach things differently, change quickly and respond sensitively. This was a situation beyond all of our experience.  

The impact of Covid-19 and national lockdown restrictions on local communities, artists and organisations meant that new ways of working, supporting creative practitioners and communities was a priority.

This case study looks at the ways we changed our artist commission support and skills development and the difference this made from participant feedback.

Download the full New Skills for New Ways of Working case study here.

Read the full 2019/20 evaluation report here.

An excerpt from the case study:

Creative Conversations in Isolation Impact on Artists

The MarketPlace team amongst their CPP colleagues recognised a need to provide opportunities for local audiences to engage in creative and cultural opportunities during the first national lockdown. They also identified a need to be an integral part in supporting the local arts economy and freelance artists in a meaningful way for their communities whilst honouring their artistic ideas.

Marketplace developed the ‘Creative Conversation in Isolation‘ two-tiered commission. Artists were invited to submit ideas that could then be funded as an ‘Inkling’. These would be developed into a working project idea after an advice surgery session with the MarketPlace team.

This enabled artists to gain direct support and insight to make their ideas audience focused with their time being valued financially. Upon approval of their delivery plan submission, the project would be funded at the ‘Connect’ level to engage communities in the activity. 

Of the 19 projects commissioned this year, seven were commissioned directly at Connect level as their project plan was fully formed. Ten of the projects have moved from Inkling to Connect and two projects are still in the Inkling development phase.

Graphic showing participation and audience numbers. 
Arts Commissions: 19, Participants: 40, Training: 1

The commissioned artists reflected upon the impact of the commission on their current employment, stability and new ways of working. This commission, alongside a measuring digital impact training day enables the development of local capacity to grow at the same time as the audience appetite for this type of cultural content.

In this short video, Creative Agent Ali reflects on the Connect and Inkling projects commissioned by MarketPlace during lockdown.
In this short video, Creative Agent Colin reflects on the importance of creating during the pandemic in 2020.

Download the full New Skills for New Ways of Working case study here.

You can also read about our work and other Creative People and Places projects in the national programme’s case study ‘Working With Artists Through Lockdown’.

Let’s Take A Walk – Reflection Blog by Genevieve Rudd

In her blog entry, Genevieve reflects on her experience as an artist during the period of lockdown, and her learning from her project Let’s Take A Walk, as part of MarketPlace’s commissions programme Creative Conversations In Isolation. Read about Genevieve’s project #Let’sTakeAWalk here.

Developing An Idea

Doorstep curiosity’ is a phrase I noted down during a Zoom catch-up with Creative Agent Ali and Marketing Officer Alice, a few days after the Let’s Take a Walk workshop. My own nature-informed arts practice took on a new resonance this year. Experiencing nature’s sights, sounds and sensations became essential to my wellbeing. The little things have really captured my attention. Self-seeded plants growing through the cracks in flint walls became a symbol for the resilience to find a way through. It was these experiences that inspired the project.

Let’s Take a Walk didn’t begin as a walk. In fact, for the Creative Conversations in Isolation call-out, whilst the country was under ‘Stay at Home’ orders, I wanted to find inspiration at home by unlocking stories in the objects we live with. I’d been running still-life drawing sessions over Zoom and through this, became curious about arranging and connecting with everyday ‘stuff’.

Creative Agents Ali and Colin, made it clear from the offset that this commission was flexible. They assured me that as the ideas developed, they’d support me to make it happen. It was refreshing to have an open brief and, as the world around us changed, so did the project. Exploring objects indoors became less appealing and spending time outdoors felt like the right way to go.

Before this year, I had never produced any remote sessions. In fact I had dismissed it as a ‘lesser version’ of face-to-face engagement, in which group dynamics feed the process. However as business as usual wasn’t possible, I had to eat my words and be open to adapting…

As the country moved into new measures, spending time outdoors was possible. However on-going restrictions meant families, friends and communities were – and still are – disconnected. One aim of Let’s Take a Walk was to support people to safely experience art and nature in the real world. The groups WalknCraft, based in Mildenhall and the March Can’t Sing Choir came forward as willing guinea pigs!

Getting Started

I hadn’t met the groups before, so I was initially concerned about how I would be received. However Ali and Colin supported the relationship and introduced me by email before the session. As I’m based in Great Yarmouth, I’m less familiar with the areas the groups live. Therefore the group picked their own familiar location to take part in.

At 10:00am on Friday 30th October, I sent the first WhatsApp message. I often feel nervous before the first workshop with a new group and this was no different. My worries soon faded away, as by 10:03am the first photo of a happy smiling participant popped up on my screen, and the rest followed. I spent the next couple of hours dashing between the laptop in my dining room and my garden, sketching along in between posting prompts.

At the end of the day, I collated the photos and videos sent during the session, and shared them during a Zoom reflection session. It was brilliant to see all the outcomes and hear honest feedback about what worked and what was found to be challenging.

Final Thoughts

For me, the workshop felt like a success because it felt like, well, a workshop! I saw their feet kicking through autumn leaves, listened to the birdsong they heard, and enjoyed seeing drawings in (almost) real time.

These ideas developed with CPP MarketPlace will inform my community arts practice as restrictions continue. Let’s Take a Walk has been a highlight this year as I felt supported to take a risk to develop my practice. The main thing I’ll take away is the importance of being flexible – something Ali and Colin emphasised right at the beginning. Another thing I’ll remember is these wise words from David: kicking through autumn leaves “isn’t a must do – it’s a compulsion!”.

Written by artist, Genevieve Rudd.

Read about Genevieve’s project #Let’sTakeAWalk here.

#LetsTakeAWalk with Genevieve Rudd

Part of our Creative Conversations in Isolation programme.

Artist Genevieve Rudd approached MarketPlace with the idea of a workshop that would connect people, using creative activities to explore their surroundings outside.

The Walk’n’Craft Group, based in Mildenhall, and the Can’t Sing Choir, based in March, were keen to get involved. Everyone loved the idea of getting together in a way that was socially distanced (in line with the government restrictions at the time), but still enabled them to meet and socialise.

On Friday 30th October 2020, Genevieve sent prompts via WhatsApp to both groups throughout their walks. She set creative activities which encouraged everyone to take time to look more closely, listen to and feel their surroundings and think about the landscape they were in. After a well deserved break, everyone came together to meet via Zoom. Genevieve shared the photos, videos and creations made during their walks in a Powerpoint presentation.

Download the PDF version of the activity sheet here.

When asked if the groups enjoyed the session, they were all positive about the experience. They were particularly pleased to try something different.

What did you enjoy and what will you take away from the session?
“Doing something different and way out of my comfort zone. Words are my comfort and drawing was really my discomfort but I enjoyed it. [I will be] taking away the idea that I have grandchildren in different countries, and we could all do them [the activities] together, so that was grand.”

The workshop was an interesting experiment for Genevieve and the MarketPlace team. Using a platform like WhatsApp to bring different groups together at the same time was new for us, and came from a need to find alternative ways to connect during the pandemic.

You can read about Genevieve’s experience and what she learned from the project in her new blog post here.

Click through to the Flickr album to take a closer look at the gallery of their other creations, photos and videos here.

Image reads "Featured on #ArtOfCovidChat podcast series. Click here to listen."

Listen to Genevieve’s podcast episode from the series #ArtOfCovidChat here where she discusses the challenges and triumphs through lockdown with fellow artist Marian Savill.