Tuesday 26th July 2016

DIY Weekend sees shoppers engaged in live art

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Live Art hit the streets of St Helens in July when Hunt and Darton rolled into town to tell us “we’re not local”

The artists duo charmed the locals and attracted huge numbers of visitors to their pop up art café last year. They recently returned with some new faces to take part in the Live Art Development Agency DIY 13, a weekend of combined professional development projects by artists for artists across the UK.

Hunt & Darton offered artists the chance to apply to join them on a whistle stop visit to St Helens. The successful artists joined forces for two days, beginning with a workshop before visiting some of the town’s favourite haunts and finally presenting new work to unsuspecting shoppers in Church Square.

The theme of ‘local’ and creating work for new audiences laid the backdrop for the work and artists had the tough task of engaging busy shoppers. They were encouraged to write down phrases they’d overheard in St Helens, take part in a narrative card game, make friends with an American tourist and pose for a photograph with a story telling stranger.

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The new work created a real buzz around the town centre with the former Hunt & Darton Café window full of quotes and many locals pulled out a seat to take part.

Suzanne Dempsey Sawin, Heart of Glass Assistant Producer said “It was a real joy to have Hunt and Darton back and to welcome new and exciting artists to the area. We hosted a lunch time social, which was a great opportunity to introduce the artists to locals, and they spent a lot of time visiting local businesses. The performances felt very at home in Church Square and brought a real buzz to the usual Saturday afternoon shop.

The leaders of the event believed the preparation of the work was the key to its success.

Jenny Hunt, said: “We found leading the workshop together and identifying each others strengths in terms of leadership really useful. We also learnt more about performing to local people, and performing in places that are not local to you and the concerns and celebrations around this. We also learnt a lot from our participants.

“Our love of public performance was re-enforced. We want to do more in St Helens.”

Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steven Brogan said: “I am so pleased that the Heart of Glass project was able to return to the shopping centre, and with such an unusual project by the artists.
“It really got people talking about  what was going on in the town centre, and wanting to be part of the event. Congratulations to all those involved in such a creative initiative.”

DIY was an opportunity for artists working in Live Art to conceive and run unusual training and professional development projects for other artists.  DIY 13 included 20 projects, supported by 20 partner organisations.