People in Chelston, Torquay have been making willow sculptures to decorate their gardens during lockdown.
The idea began when a community project to create willow sculptures for the local parks was put on hold. Local people wanted to continue making sculptures, and found a way to share their creations with others. Woven willow hearts and stars are now hanging in windows, on doors and around front gardens so that anyone taking their daily walk can enjoy them.
Celebrate Chelston is a project designed to increase residents’ pride in where they live, grow a greater sense of community and encourage people to take part in creative activities. As part of Torbay’s Great Place Scheme, it is one of a number of initiatives to improve people’s wellbeing through arts and heritage.
When the community workshops were postponed, Coach House Arts – the organisation behind the willow-weaving – quickly found a new way for residents to continue their creativity. Over 200 small mini willow sculpture kits have been sent in the post, instruction videos made available, and the results shared in gardens and online for everyone to see.
Celebrate Chelston lead artist Vik Westaway said:
“We’re building a sense of community and collective endeavour even though we must all stay at home. Local people really enjoyed the community workshops before lockdown, and it’s encouraging to see the living willow sculptures which we made back then for local parks have now started to grow. The residents of Chelston have responded so enthusiastically to this new way to keep the creativity going. It’s wonderful to see people looking out for the hearts and stars hanging in people’s gardens when they’re on their walks.”
Cllr Mike Morey, Cabinet member for Infrastructure, Environment & Culture; and Board member of Torbay Culture said:
“Celebrate Chelston!’ really caught the imagination of residents. What started as a creative group activity has had to adapt to the extraordinary circumstances we’re living through. That’s made it even more special – it’s connecting people creatively, whilst we follow the NHS advice, and stay apart. Celebrate Chelston! has truly captured people’s hearts.”
Celebrate Chelston is a Torbay Culture project in partnership with Torbay Community Development Trust as part of the Great Place Scheme.