Art Road Trip

MarketPlace has partnered with The National Gallery for Art Road Trip as part of their 200th year celebrations. Together we have curated a two week creative programme designed to bring art and creativity to communities in Wisbech and Mildenhall. This July, we are welcoming an art studio across multiple locations in both towns, along with a range of free, open to all, hands on creative workshops.

The travelling studio will be stationed at various locations across Wisbech from 1-7 July and Mildenhall from 8-14 July, (exact dates and times to be confirmed), with free workshops and interactive activities for all. We’ll be encouraging everyone to get creative, inspired by the theme of ‘Look up and take to the skies’ in Mildenhall, and ‘More than meets the eye in Wisbech. Two incredible artists from The National Gallery will be leading these sessions, exploring a variety of techniques and practices.

Community Workshops Throughout June

Wisbech:
We will be working with artist Ann Bellamy and using found pictures from local charity shops to explore the theme ‘More than meets the eye’. Ann will be working at Peckover House and across Wisbech before the Art Road Trip starts in July.

Mildenhall:
We will be running community creative writing workshops in June exploring the theme of ‘Look up and take to the skies’. The writing that comes from these sessions will then be available to inspire anyone who joins us in July for Art Road Trip.

Later this year we will be exhibiting a series of the artworks across both towns, developed with the communities and with an accompanying guide. More details on the exhibition will be shared later this year.

Get on the Mural

The Get on the Mural project is a collaboration between the Walk’n’Craft group, St John’s Community Centre and artist Rose Croft. Mildenhall’s ‘Walk’n’Craft’ group (a previous MarketPlace project) wanted to work on a mural on the walls of St John’s Community Centre; and the Get On the Mural project was born.  

Working with the centre manager Luke Stokes, the group wanted the mural to celebrate the people of St John’s estate. They invited the community to nominate local people and share the stories behind the nominations. A special launch event was organised at the community centre in September, where people gathered to share their stories. 

More than 30 stories of local people, both past and present, were submitted for consideration. The ‘Walk’n’Craft’ group and the community centre committee carefully selected who would be represented on the mural. Those not included had their images transformed into stickers and pasted on the metal fence. 

MarketPlace commissioned artist Rose Croft to lead this project. Rose collaborated with the group to design the mural, which she painted onto the outside of the building. 

On October 27, the grand unveiling of the mural attracted an enthusiastic crowd. The event also showcased a storybook, compiled by The Walk’n’Craft group to accompany the project, in which all nominees were featured. 

Feedback from the project was very positive with many people saying it was “just like the old days”.

Photograph by Michael Warin

The St John’s Get on the Mural Project is in partnership with Keystone Trust.


Louise Eatock, Creative Producer, Forest Heath

Teen Chill and MarketPlace Celebrate as mural is displayed in Newmarket

To mark the end of the project, artists from Teen Chill youth club were invited by MarketPlace for a celebration buffet at Newmarket’s Abbeycroft Leisure Centre to celebrate The Human Race mural. The co-created mural is part of the Newmarket in Colour project by Discover Newmarket and is now displayed in the leisure centre’s foyer where it can be enjoyed by the public.

Lead artist – Hilary Cox Condron – also attended along with the young artist’s family members to celebrate their achievement and hard work. The mural was inspired by the Mutiny in Colour exhibition at the National Horse Racing Museum. As part of the project, MarketPlace took members of Teen Chill to the exhibition where they were particularly inspired by artists Banksy, KAWS and My Dog Sighs, and were keen to have their voices heard in the piece. Over the course of several sessions with the young people, their voices came forwards and we discussed and experimented with ideas, themes and visuals.

MarketPlace Programme Director Susie Batchelor says: “We were delighted at how deeply committed the young artists at Teen Chill were to the project, and at the thoughtfulness of their creative responses. Hilary and everyone at the MarketPlace team loved their energy and enthusiasm. We are very proud that they have now formed an arts collective and look forward to working with them again on other initiatives including the Rivers of Light lantern parade which will take place in Newmarket in February 2024”.


Louise Eatock, Creative Producer

#TinyDance comes to Fenland and Forest Heath

Casson & Friends, an award-winning dance company based in London spent early Summer 2021 bringing their own unique style of dance and ‘people powered performance’ to our area. The goal? To speak to as many people as possible to create a dance inspired by what people love about where they live.

Dancers engaging with community members, especially young people, to create a bespoke dance for their towns and districts resulting in a Collaborative Choreography

The Community Producer POV

We asked Jodie Hicks, our Community Producer, to give her point of view about her summer worling with Casson & Friends.


Events in March, Wisbech, Brandon and Newmarket

Across four events in Fenland and West Suffolk two teams of dancers had the chance to engage with people of all ages, to dig deep and mine their thoughts and memories for choreography ideas and inspiration. It was a real joy to observe someone, with great animation, describe a cherished memory about their town or a certain place within it, and then to see the dancers transform these words into fluid movements. 

A moment which stood out for me was at National Play Day at The Spinney Adventure Playground in Wisbech. Not only did the parents and children speak to the dancers, but they actually got involved physically to help create these moves alongside them.

On a couple of occasions, some of the children would correct the dancers and suggest their own alterations to more accurately capture what they loved about their hometown. The connections and collaborative process was a truly wonderful watch after we have all spent the past two years keeping distance from each other.

Slowly but surely, as each day would draw to a close, singular movements would grow into short sequences and in turn develop into a dance performance lasting a few minutes long. Alongside this, MarketPlace was  on hand to invite people to also write down thoughts, feelings and also  provide some suggestions for filming locations for the final stage of the project, producing a dance film. 

Bringing the moves together…

After our days in March, Wisbech, Brandon and Newmarket the dance teams went away and explored all of the information they’d gathered, narrowed down the filming locations to just three in each town, (no easy task) and put all of the choreographed motions together to create two distinct dances for Fenland and Forest Heath. 

All that was left to do was film it. Our travels took us to all sorts of places from racetracks to mausoleums, and even a castle. The #TinyDance teams accomplished the astonishing feat of filming in 6 locations per day and performing the Tiny Dances a staggering 18 times over the course of each day!

It was exhausting just watching them! Not only this, but in true East Anglia fashion, the dancers and filmmakers had to compete with weather ranging from sunshine to wind and rain and back again and often in the space of an hour (which could be a little detail to look out for in the Forest Heath film). 

Clips from the Casson & Friends performers creating the final video on location in Brandon, Suffolk (Forest Heath).

What was never lost was the sense of fun and wonder from the Casson & Friends team. They had the chance to visit all of these little gems we have in our towns, and really experience for themselves; what we are proud of and what is distinctively unique about living in Fenland and Forest Heath.

The #TinyDance films will be ready very soon so be sure to keep an out on our social media pages or sign up for our newsletter to have it sent direct to your inbox. 

With all that said, where’s my popcorn…?

Written by MarketPlace Young Producer, Jodie Hicks.

Read about Casson & Friends’ Tiny Dance project and watch the final videos here.


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MarketPlace in a Minute

In Summer 2021, Creative People and Places launched a project called 60 Second Stories. A series of mini films from each of the 30 CPP projects. Giving insight into how we co-create with individuals and communities and explore creative activity.

We contributed two videos for the series sharing the Local Voice of community members, artists and performers and what creativity means to them.

You can watch our two videos below.

Scary is Art

https://youtu.be/Oox9lJxM2IE

Sometimes it’s the small moments that matter, finding a new way to express your thoughts, the act of doing something creative, coming together to share and feeling safe enough to do so. A group of Mildenhall residents met up regularly for Meet Up Mondays cuppa and chat at the Barleycorn Café, brought together by owner Shelby Foord. Together we tried out creative activities including Art Journaling led by artist Marian Savill. We saw the positive effects of art in small moments and we think Susan Feary’s words sum it up nicely.

Watch our first video ‘Scary is Art’ here.

Film: Colin Stevens, Creative Agent.
With thanks to: Susan Feary (speaking), Barleycorn Cafe, Shelby Foord, Marian Savill, Meet Up Mondays, Arts Council, CPP

Space to Create

https://youtu.be/Ld6GyLP50gY

Why does art matter? We asked some of our creative collaborators what they thought. Filmed at St George’s Fayre and Christmas Market in March, Fenland.

Watch our second video ‘Space to Create’ here.

Filming of March Market (1st half): David Johnson (Dmj Imagery Ltd)
Filming of St Georges Day (2nd half): Rydian Cook and Mariana Vaz

Edited by Creative Agent, Colin Stevens

With thanks to: Marian Savill, Hilary Cox Condron, Dan Donovan, Caitlin Howells, Dan Walsingham & Richard Alan, March Town Council, Fenland District Council, CPP and Arts Council England.


See the other CPP projects’ videos in the 60 Second Stories series visit CPP’s YouTube page here.

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Exploring with Escape from Fort Lagoon

Members of Brandon Creative Forum, the MarketPlace team and Submersion Productions stand together for a photo in Brandon town centre.

Read about the Escape From Fort Lagoon R&D project here.


On Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June 2021, I had the pleasure of accompanying the team behind the immersive theatre game Escape from Fort Lagoon, by Adam McGuigan (Wake the Beast) and Jude Jagger (Submersion Productions), around several towns in West Suffolk and Fenland. They were scouting out possible locations where they could produce their water-based immersive theatre game experience as part of their Research & Development. Alongside this, they were testing out an app which audience members would use during the performance, experimenting with original songs with a choir and meeting lots of local people who would be able to advise and assist them on this journey. 

We started in Brandon and were guided around the town and their local riverside walk by members of Brandon Creative Forum who had some valuable insights into the town and the people who populate it. As the company would need access to a body of water to perform in, they could specify which places of the river were safe to swim in and where performers and audiences could enter the river. We discovered a series of jetty’s which could be ideal for little pockets of performance spaces. 

Next, it was onto Mildenhall where the team met Imogen Radford, a regular ‘wild swimmer’ in the River Lark. She went into great depth about the different safety considerations for swimming in rivers. Safety tips such as wearing waterproof protective footwear and getting into the water slowly to ease your body in gently to the sudden change in temperature and prevent performers and audience members losing their breath. 

Finally, we arrived in March and I helped Godfrey Smith show the team around the area surrounding the River Nene before meeting up with the March Can’t Sing Choir. I have lived and grown up in March my whole life and it was interesting to see it through the theatre company’s eyes. I think I forget to appreciate how green it is and how many open spaces we have on our doorstep. Coming from Manchester and London, they were amazed at just how far you can see and how many wide-open spaces we have.

When we met up with the choir, we split into two groups; one group was trialling the app which Jack Hardiker had designed to test if the choir members could learn some short phrases to sing from their mobile devices, and one group to be taught these singing parts by the choir master Sally Rose. Speaking with Jude and Jack who led the app group, I think they found this exercise especially enlightening as they realised that learning these short songs from an app was no replacement for a choir master who could correct things as she went along, and practise blending these different parts together to make a really beautiful sound. 

On the second day, we met with David Johnson at the Empress Pool in Chatteris where the team experimented with the acoustics of indoor pools and used the time to reflect on what they had learned and brainstorm new ideas for how the show would need to adapt to what they now know. After this, David gave us a walking tour of Chatteris town centre. He provided  the team with information on his experiences of how to organise events and arts projects in Chatteris.

From there we drove to Gildenburgh Water in Whittlesey where the team swam in the lake and learnt about the different safety measures that the owners would insist upon should performers and audience members need to go into the water. We walked around the area and found some quite interesting little patches of field which could be suitable for performance spaces. 

At all of the places that we visited, the team were taking pictures of everything and making notes on what would work and what wouldn’t work at each location. They were taking into consideration factors like how accessible it would be for members of the public, how far people would have to walk, how loud the noise in the surrounding area would be, how enclosed it is and what (if any) access they would have to the water. I believe that actually trying out wild swimming for themselves and learning how they would need to adapt the show to take into consideration what they now know has been a crucial step towards putting on a show here. 

Jodie, Colin and Buster the dog from MarketPlace stand together for a photo in Chatteris town centre with David Johnson, a film maker based in Chatteris, Jude and Adam from Submersion Productions, digital artist & app designer Jack and theatre designer & costume maker Abby.

Also, testing the capabilities of the app they are developing with members of the public and learning what tweaks would need to be made, would not have been achievable without this Research and Development stage, supported by the Arts Council of England with National Lottery funding. 

The project has the potential to be unlike anything Fenland and Suffolk have seen before, so now more than ever I have learnt how important this stage in the creative process is, and how it will now go on to inform so many decisions – both creatively and logistically in the future when Submersion Productions take the plunge and perform it. 

Written by MarketPlace Young Producer, Jodie Hicks.

Read about the Escape From Fort Lagoon R&D project here.


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Tiny Dance

Across Summer 2021, MarketPlace teamed up with Casson and Friends to make Tiny Dance – short dance films inspired by conversations with communities in Fenland and Forest Heath. Collaborative Choreography you might say.

The dancers visited 4 market towns around Fenland and West Suffolk (Forest Heath) and chatted to residents about what they loved about where they live. They also encouraged people to collaborate on some moves – watching the dancers and helping to shape choreography.

Casson and Friends are a record-breaking dance theatre company that aims to always be accessible, interactive and joyful. The company believes in ‘people powered performance’ – dance that is co-created with the help of the public.

Tiny Dances are short dance films inspired by the shared conversations, stories and anecdotes, plus choreography ideas. Choreographer Tim and his team of dancers use the information shared to create a bespoke dance reflecting our unique rural landscape.

View the finished videos below and let us knowwhat you think.


#TinyDance Fenland

Event photography credit: Malachy Luckie.

Casson & Friends brought their dance moves to Wisbech Play Day at The Spinney Adventure Playground on Wednesday 4th August and March Market on Saturday 7th August, inspiring choreography moves with creative people in their creative places. Take a look at the final #TinyDance below and view the full album of photos here (credit Malacky Luckie).


#TinyDance Forest Heath (West Suffolk)

Event photography credit: Malachy Luckie.

Casson & Friends dancers spent a week focusing on Newmarket Memorial Gardens Earth Arts Festival (19th August) and Brandon Festival (21st August). Talking with local people helped them create a unique West Suffolk dance.

Take a look at the final #TinyDance below and view the full album of photos here.

Read about how our Community Producer, Jodie Hicks got on this summer with Casson & Friends.

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Escape from Fort Lagoon R&D

Read our Young Producer Jodie’s experience of the day here.


Escape from Fort Lagoon is an immersive ‘theatre game’ created by Wake the Beast (Adam McGuigan) and Submersion Productions (Jude Jagger). We have been an active partner in their Research & Development work since 2019. We’ve been lucky to have a group of local community members who have formed a ‘Creative Collective’ that has provided a springboard for feedback on ideas and the concept of the theatre production.

Escape from Fort Lagoon is set in the future where water is a precious commodity and is controlled by an oppressive government who restrict access to the water to the elite (a theme that surely resonates with many right now in the rollout of the pandemic).

Once the Covid19 conditions allowed, Adam and Jude invited the Collective to do some location scouting in their home towns and further afield. Towns with a nearby body of water being the main practical consideration for this piece.

The Collective members came up with different locations and devised their own maps, highlighting interesting features of their area. With local knowledge they fed ideas into many of the creative elements that will end up in the final show.

These included news reports, set design, crowd interactions and environmental issues that are highlighted within the theatre piece.

The Fort Lagoon team visited the region to gain an understanding of our area and the challenges that exist in putting on a large scale theatre event. During the few days spent in Chatteris, March, Brandon and Mildenhall, the team got to test out the mobile phone app that will act as a device for audience members to navigate the game.

They also went for a spot of wild swimming and tested the new choral parts with the Cant Sing Choir in March. Having that time to test out elements of the show was extremely valuable and having the time to explore the spaces meant that the piece can be influenced by the landscape and the people in those areas.

The team got a lot of inspiration from the décor at Johnsons of Old Hurst Tropical House near Chatteris, (marred only slightly by Jude dropping her phone into the crocodile enclosure). Residents of Mildenhall were calling out supportive comments as the gang tested swimming in their local river and Brandon’s Market Square was buzzing with activity. Many people chatting in the square wanted to know more about the project and how they could get involved.

Submersion Productions now plan to secure funding to present the piece in summer 2023 in the area and all our fingers are crossed and watch this space!


Read our Young Producer Jodie’s experience of the day here.

Take a look at the Flickr gallery of the location visits here.

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#SeeYouSoon!

Developed with support from public funding by Department of Culture, Media and Sport. We spent March, April and May 2021 exploring creative ways to address loneliness and social isolation resulting from the impact of Covid-19.

We threw the obvious title “The Loneliness Project” out the window. After a year of near-constant lockdown we felt it was important to offer people a more positive outlook. How could we help people break out of their ‘bubbles’ in a fun, colourful and positive manner?

After not been able to see or touch their families and friends for a year people needed a sense of real connection. What better way to make meaningful contact than with the simple forgotten Art of Writing? In a world of mobile phones, email, text and WhatsApp, how many of us take the time to put a pen to paper?

The #See You Soon pack of postcards was designed to encourage people to send creative messages and ideas to family members, friends and neighbours.

We took time to have our now familiar “creative conversations” with a diverse range of contacts who are working with families, seniors, young people and people who are experiencing isolation across Fenland and West Suffolk. We worked with community leaders and creative practitioners who understood how their localities and neighbourhoods had been affected by the pandemic.

Connecting is what #See You Soon  was all about – making a move to do something positive. Smile, Reach Out & Say Hello! Our new See You Soon section of the website is coming soon!

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