At the start of the year, we worked with a panel of local artists and community members to choose five artists / collectives for Prototype Projects 2022, a scheme which supports artists working with communities to test, explore and develop new, innovative ideas and engage new audiences, or develop their own artistic practice. The chosen artists are all based in St Helens and Knowsley and have been working with local communities in these areas.
About the Projects (2022)
Pause and Play by multi-disciplinary artist Clare Brumby is an ongoing body of work exploring women’s experiences of the menopause, and the power of Deep Listening and playfulness in collective healing processes. Since February 2023, Clare has been working with a group of women from Knowsley to capture their stories and explore their experience of the menopause, using Deep Listening exercises, movement, dance and dreaming.
Clare is interested in “voice and visibility, the voiceless and invisible”, and how dialogue and listening can create positive connections between and across different communities. This project aims to ensure that women’s voices continue to be heard, and that conversations around women’s health, wellbeing and healing stay current and relevant. Clare plans to develop the visuals from this stage of her research into an audio-visual installation. Supported in part by Collective Encounters.
Artist, educator, support worker and carer Helon Conning has been working with young people and staff, living in a secure education setting in St Helens to create Collaboradoodles; a collaborative communication between individuals, with listening and responding at its heart. Despite students’ initial resistance to explore free improvisational mark making and gestural portraiture, Helon adapted and encouraged each student to see creativity as a way to freedom and empowerment; discovering the ownership of their creative actions, to increase their focus, perception, and problem-solving skills.
Through the different expressive exercises in observational drawing, minds get a chance to rest and soothe, and in each session Helon has seen growth in creative confidence as well as the emergence of beautiful artwork. As the sessions evolved Helon developed a process of ‘call and response’ which enables creative freedom. Helon shared her own original drawings for students to adapt and develop using their own visual language. This brought calm, conversation, and a chance to connect collaboratively in the moment.
Images created during the workshops, thanks to all the participants.
Following her comic book commission for our Home Work programme in 2020, illustrator Cath Garvey has spent time researching sustainable ways to grow food locally in collaboration with Incredible Edible, Knowsley. Cath met with staff, volunteers and users of the food pantry at the site, who shared their enthusiasm and knowledge about growing, which Cath has transformed into an easily accessible comic-book format. Cath then led a workshop with children from Malvern Primary, Blacklow Brow Primary (where Cath was a pupil) and Park View Primary where they used the comics to learn how to plant their own seeds and Cath helped them to design their own comic-book bug characters.
Get Growing is a guide to sustainable living and growing food at home, which has been distributed for free to 250 families in St Helens and Knowsley and is also available to download as a PDF below. Supported in part by Collective Encounters
Get Growing: A zine by Cath Garvey
Rocks and Lavender Productions
University College St Helens Theatre and Performance students, artists Rocks and Lavender Productions have been working on a retelling of the story of Medusa, being presented at St Helens Parish Church Hall on 24th April 2023.
The tale of Medusa is one of the most infamous Greek myths, which details the tragic punishment she received for “seducing” Poseidon, god of the sea, inside Athena’s temple. This performance reframes Medusa as the victim of a brutal assault. The performance uses spoken word, song, movement, projection and puppeteering to share a different perspective of events, asking: if Medusa was indeed a monster, was she not created by the trauma inflicted onto her by powerful, divine figures?
With thanks to 20 Stories High for supporting on the self care toolkit.
Abdullrhman Hassona has spent the past three months photographing and interviewing St Helens residents who have made a remarkable impact on the local community. Abdullrhman has identified people who support others within the community who are part of organisations including Café Laziz (a community café set up by Debra Hill to aid the integration and employability of refugees and asylum seekers within the St Helen’s community), Bike Shed, Sexton Avenue Community Allotments, Pilks Spartans Junior Football club, Our Warm Welcome and Artists Together.
For each portrait, Abdullhrman has worked with St Helens artist Rebecca Ainsworth to create hand painted backdrops that frame the subjects of the portraits in front of the locations where you might encounter them.
Some work from the project will be shared at Prototype Projects Creative Gathering on 25th April 2023. People of St Helens is supported in part by Open Eye Gallery.