Miniature pieces of art inspired by restrictions of the pandemic

An exhibition of miniature artworks will be displayed in a set of old printer’s letterpress drawers.

The drawers’ tiny compartments – which originally housed the print typefaces – have provided a stimulus for the exhibiting artists. Inspired by the restrictions many of us have experienced due to covid-19, more than 200 artists from all over the world have produced work, including a four-piece jigsaw, tiny books, a decorated coin, and small shell sculptures made out of old maps.

The new works will be exhibited at Clayhill Arts, Bridgwater, Somerset and showcased online. 

The idea was devised by artist Amanda Lynch who became fascinated by the Mail Art Movement which began in the 1960s, when artists sent postcards with poems or drawings through the post rather than exhibiting through conventional channels.

Amanda used the restrictions of the pandemic and the idea of Mail Art as inspiration for the exhibition. 

Amanda said:
“I’ve been sending postcards through the mail since the first lockdown began. It’s a good way to keep in touch, and it brings such joy when people receive a piece of art through the letterbox.

“One of the things I wanted to do with this exhibition was to include some of the people who sometimes find it harder to get their work exhibited, so I’ve reached out to disabled artists and to emerging artists and encouraged them to take part.

“I wanted to share this creative conversation with others, so as well as inviting people to send their tiny pieces of art, I’m setting up an artists’ network so that we can stay in touch and learn from each other.”

Work has been sent through the post from all over Britain, and as far afield as New Zealand, Japan and the Faroe Islands.

Benji Appleby-Tyler used his work to show that under the current restrictions, many of us do not feel ‘whole’. He created a small jigsaw with each of the four pieces displayed in a separate compartment. The work aims to show how people’s mental health is affected by the imposed restrictions which force many people to be alone.

The link with the letterpress drawers has a personal significance for the artist whose grandfather worked as a typesetter at the Weston Mercury for many years.

Michelle Wood is based in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. She has created small shell-like forms from vintage maps, and a concertina folding book containing delicate drawings and prints of shells.

Michelle said:
“My work is inspired and sustained by our coastal location. Throughout the past year, I have been beach walking, scouring for shells and stones and dipping in the North Sea, with a view of the horizon and what lies beyond. There is a new and real tension between keeping ourselves close, with that of looking outward beyond our horizon. We are tiny creatures in a vast sea.”

Ruth Barrett-Danes is a print maker who has created tiny books reflecting the images from her window. Until lockdown, Ruth was very active, teaching printmaking and working with adults with learning disabilities.

Ruth said:
“I never regarded myself as “vulnerable” until suddenly I found myself labelled as such and robbed of my ability to be able to interact within a vibrant community with shared interests and passions.”

Ann Mansolino is based in Blairmore, Alberta, Canada. The letterpress drawer compartments reminded her of the appearance of a Zoom call.

Ann said:
“A computer screen full of faces in little Zoom boxes has become, for me, one of the enduring symbols of this strange time and of the restrictions and limitations and alternate ways of communicating with others associated with it.”

She has made four photographic images showing herself playing different roles, fighting against the restrictive space of the boxes. Each image is framed with the Zoom interface – the box with buttons for mute, screen sharing, etc.

Kaoru Shibuta is from Kyoto, Japan
Through his art, he translates musical notes into images and contemporary installations, creating a poetic symphony composed of images, colours and harmony, fusing nature, music and art.

Toni Mosley is an artist and printmaker based in Auckland, New Zealand.
She has used prints bound up with thread so they are restricted – they cannot be opened and unfolded to their full size. Her idea relates to the lack of movement, isolation and of waiting for someone to cut the thread and release.

Sharon Gale and Jason Gale (known as Quiet British Accent) have painted a face mask onto the image of the monarch on a pre-decimal penny along with a slogan referring to our current times, specifically lockdown.

Theresa Kohlbeck lives on the Faroe Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. She creates tiny tondos – circular works of art. One shows a heath orchid, restricted in its own space of a mossy meadow. This reflect the way that people are restricted to their homes during lockdown. 

As well as curating the exhibition, Amanda has set up the Correspondence Collective to bring together creative people to share knowledge and inspiration at a time when many artists are feeling isolated.

Contributed artwork will be archived by Clayhill Arts as a record of work created about this unusual time. 

The exhibition will be launched online by Clayhill Arts on Tuesday 23 March, a year on from the start of the first lockdown.

New music aims to raise the profile of the double bass

A new piece of music aims to raise the profile of the double bass. The tones and range of this often-underrated instrument are explored in Leo Geyer’s new work ‘Water Boatman’.

Inspired by the aquatic insect’s ability to swim and also to fly, the piece takes full advantage of the huge span that the double bass can cover. The music depicts the water boatman’s journey as it travels from the depths of the water to the surface, and eventually takes flight. 

Leo Geyer is a young composer with a passion for imaginative, daring and dramatic approaches to music-making.

The piece for solo double bass has been commissioned by The Musicians’ Company as part of the Young Artists’ Programme and is played by virtuoso player Toby Hughes.

Composed and filmed in lockdown, ‘Water boatman’ is played with a loop pedal which allows the performer to create layers of sound during a live performance. The full range of voices of the instrument can be heard in one piece.

Composer Leo Geyer said:
“Toby and I worked together on this piece during lockdown, exploring ideas and concepts over Zoom. We wanted to create a piece which showcases the expressiveness and virtuosity of the double bass, which led us to explore using a loop pedal. The result is a layering of lines which come and go, often reconsidered in different harmonic contexts to illustrate the water boatman’s journey to the sky.”

As well as performing Leo Geyer’s new piece, Toby Hughes has recorded a CD which aims to showcase the repertoire for double bass. 

Toby Hughes said:
“I feel very lucky that Leo has written Water Boatman which explores the full range of the instrument in one piece. The double bass is not just a deeper sounding cello – it has its own sonorous tone and it’s much more versatile than many people realise. There are some beautiful pieces for double bass which are not often heard. I’m on a mission to raise the profile of this misunderstood instrument.”

Water Boatman begins with a dark deep tone, reflecting the depths of the water, and describes the journey of the insect, with voices rolling underneath each other as it comes to the surface and then flies as the double bass transports the listener to different harmonic spheres. 

Water Boatman will be available on The Musician’s Company YouTube channel from Wed 24 Feb.

ends

For further information
Gillian Taylor 07761 546075
gillian@gilliantaylorpr.com

Notes for editors

Leo Geyer is a young composer and conductor with a passion for imaginative, daring and dramatic approaches to music-making, encompassing new work, interdisciplinary collaborations and re-imaginings of existing music. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Constella OperaBallet, Music Director for the Devon Philharmonic Orchestra, and works as a guest artist internationally. He is also the Senior Music Scholar at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford studying for a doctorate in opera-ballet composition. His music has been performed across the world, including his opera ‘The Mermaid of Zennor’, described by The Times as “imaginative and beautifully shaped”.

Toby Hughes is a double bass soloist. He won the 2013 Chandos Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Young Musician of the Year’ and in 2014 was the first double bassist to win the string section of the Royal Over-Seas League Competition. In 2016 he won the Bromsgrove International Competition and in 2018 the Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists Competition. 

Toby has performed with major international orchestras both in Europe and the UK. He has been awarded support from The Tillett Trust, The Musicians’ Company and Making Music, and his recital engagements have included appearances at Wigmore Hall, St-Martin-in-the-Fields, The Edinburgh Festival and at Queen Elizabeth Hall. He has been a City Music Foundation artist since 2018 and his debut CD will be released later this year on the Champs Hill Record label.

The Musicians’ Company, also known as The Worshipful Company of Musicians’ is the only City of London Livery Company dedicated to the performing arts. They nurture and support emerging musicians through prizes, bursaries, scholarships, and awards given to music students of the highest calibre, awarding around £200,000/year.

The Young Artists’ Programme is a scheme for musicians who have won one of their awards.  It supports musicians during the vital first few years of professional practice and allows them to share their skills and passion with the wider community through participation work.

www.youtube.com/themusicianscompany

New National Centre aims to make creativity integral to health and social care systems

A new national centre for creativity and wellbeing launches on Tuesday 9 March. The National Centre for Creative Health aims to make creativity integral to health and social care systems.

At the online launch of the Centre, Chair of Trustees, Lord Howarth of Newport, and guest speaker, Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair of the NHS Confederation, will reflect on how the arts, culture and creativity can support people and organisations in the context of the pandemic and increasing health inequalities. 

Lord Howarth of Newport said: 
“This is an exciting and very important moment. It’s an opportunity to make a difference. We know from thousands of studies that creativity is vital for everyone’s wellbeing. The new Centre will advance research, inform policy and promote good practice and collaboration in order to foster the conditions for creative health to be integral to health and social care systems.

“The creative health movement believes that active engagement with the arts and culture – whether through our own creative practice or through our enjoyment of the creative practice of others – is beneficial for the wellbeing and health of all of us. Health inequalities are a key priority for the Centre; lack of access to cultural and creative opportunities too often mirrors other inequalities. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced and increased inequalities and made this work all the more urgent.”

The Centre has been formed in response to the Creative Health report, the result of a two-year inquiry led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing

Evidence from research shows that engagement with the arts and culture is beneficial for health and wellbeing. The Creative Health report brings together over a thousand published studies outlining the role of arts and creativity in supporting health across the life course. 

Other speakers at the launch:

  • Rachel Clarke, Palliative care doctor and author of Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic, will talk about the experience of healthcare staff during the pandemic and a growing concern for their health and mental wellbeing. In the coming months and years, enabling health and social care staff to engage in creative health programmes will support their own wellbeing as well as that of their patients.
  • Lucinda Jarrett, Director of Rosetta Life and participant, Pauline Boye, will talk about the Opera I Look For the Think made in lockdown.
  • Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead at the World Health Organisation, will speak about the wider global context for arts and creativity in the time of the pandemic.
  • Dr Jane Povey, Clinical Lead for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Sustainability and Transformation Partnership will reflect on how creative approaches to health and wellbeing can become integral to health and care provision.

In partnership with NHS England, the National Centre for Creative Health will work with Integrated Care Systems to spread learning and embed creative health approaches through a programme of ‘Hubs’.

Dr Jane Povey, Clinical Lead for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), said:
“I am thrilled to be celebrating the launch of our National Centre for Creative Health. This is extremely timely since we will be able to work with Integrated Care Systems as they emerge across the country. This will ensure creative approaches to health and wellbeing become integral to health and care provision. In Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, we are looking forward to playing a part in enabling this, to benefit our community and share the approaches we evolve with other Integrated Care Systems.”

During the pandemic, a remarkable transformation of creative health practice has enabled people who are vulnerable and isolated to continue to engage and be supported. Pauline Boye, a former nurse and a Stroke ‘Ambassador’ will talk about her experience of taking part in the Opera I Look For the Think made in lockdown with the Garsington Opera Adult Community Company. Stroke Odysseys is one of three interventions in the major King’s Health Partners’ SHAPER programme.

Pauline Boye said:
“It was very touching, the songs about how we leave hospital and start a new life – I loved singing those parts. It was very moving. I look forward to joining each session, I like the exercise and I wish we could do it every day because it makes me feel happy, my mood, each time we perform I feel a bit more confident, a little goes a long way”

A panel at the launch will include

  • Nikki CraneSHAPER Programme Manager
  • James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Rob Webster, Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lead Chief Executive West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System

Rob Webster said:
“In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, we are delighted to be one of the four Integrated Care Systems working with the National Centre for Creative Health on this programme. We know that creativity is part of the lifeblood of our communities, is a major contributor to our economies and helps to define the places we live. Creative health has been a priority for us for the last five years. There is also an impressive evidence base on the relationship between creativity and health. During the pandemic this has become very clear, with creativity playing a role in supporting people’s mental and physical wellbeing, especially those who are shielding or isolated.”

The Centre will play a pivotal role in enabling creative health approaches to become integral to health and social care and wider systems in the UK. The Centre’s priorities are: health inequalities; advancing good practice and research; informing policy; and promoting collaboration.

The National Centre for Creative Health will be launched at 2pm on Tuesday 9 March at an online event. 

Ends

For further information
Gillian Taylor 07761 546075
gillian@gilliantaylorpr.com

Notes for editors
To receive an invitation to the online launch event, please email: info@ncch.org.uk, including your name and publication/media outlet.

The public link to join the launch: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-of-the-national-centre-for-creative-health-tickets-141143601311

The Creative Health report is the result of a two-year inquiry led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. It brings together over a thousand published studies outlining the role of arts and creativity in supporting health across the life course. 

The World Health Organisation scoping review: What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing? synthesizes the global evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being, with a specific focus on the WHO European Region. Results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan. 

Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review investigates how the pandemic has affected health inequalities in England.

The increasing gap in inequalities was evidenced in Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, published in February 2020.

The Centre is working with Integrated Care Systems to explore models for integrating creative health at a systems level through a programme of ‘Hubs’ in Gloucestershire, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, Suffolk and North East Essex, and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

New National Centre for Creative Health Launches

A new national centre for creativity and wellbeing launches on 9th March. The National Centre for Creative Health aims to make creativity integral to health and social care systems.

At the online launch of the National Centre for Creative Health, Chair of Trustees, Lord Howarth of Newport, and guest speaker, Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair of the NHS Confederation, will reflect on how the arts, culture and creativity can support people and organisations in the context of the pandemic and increasing health inequalities. 

The Centre has been formed in response to the Creative Health report, the result of a two-year inquiry led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing

Evidence from research shows that engagement with the arts and culture is beneficial for health and wellbeing. TheCreative Health report brings together over a thousand published studies outlining the role of arts and creativity in supporting health across the life course. 

Lord Howarth of Newport, Chair of Trustees of the National Centre for Creative Health said: 
“This is an exciting and very important moment. It’s an opportunity to make a difference. We know from thousands of studies that creativity is vital for everyone’s wellbeing. The new Centre will advance research, inform policy and promote good practice and collaboration in order to foster the conditions for creative health to be integral to health and social care systems.

“The creative health movement believes that active engagement with the arts and culture – whether through our own creative practice or through our enjoyment of the creative practice of others – is beneficial for the wellbeing and health ofall of us. Health inequalities are a key priority for the Centre; lack of access to cultural and creative opportunities too often mirrors other inequalities. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced and increased inequalities and made this work all the more urgent.”

During the pandemic, a remarkable transformation of creative health practice has enabled people who are vulnerable and isolated to continue to engage and be supported. At the launch of the National Centre for Creative Health, a person living with a brain injury due to stroke will talk about their experience of making the Opera “I Look For the Think” made in lockdown with 60 Stroke ‘Ambassadors’ and the Garsington Opera Adult Community Company. 

Participant Pauline Boye, a former nurse, said of the project:
“It was very touching, the songs about how we leave hospital and start a new life – I loved singing those parts. It was very moving. I look forward to joining each session, I like the exercise and I wish we could do it every day because it makes me feel happy, my mood, each time we perform I feel a bit more confident, a little goes a long way”

The experience of healthcare staff during the pandemic has led to growing concern for their own health and mental wellbeing as we emerge from the crisis. At the launch of the National Centre for Creative Health, we will be joined by Rachel Clarke, palliative care doctor and author of ‘Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic.’ In the coming months and years, enabling health and social care staff to engage in creative health programmes will support their own wellbeing as well as that of their patients.

The Centre is working with Integrated Care Systems to explore models for integrating creative health at a systems level through a programme of ‘Hubs’.

Dr Jane Povey, Clinical Lead for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), said:
“I am thrilled to be celebrating the launch of our National Centre for Creative Health. This is extremely timely since we will be able to work with Integrated Care Systems as they emerge across the country. This will ensure creative approaches to health and wellbeing become integral to health and care provision. In Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, we are looking forward to playing a part in enabling this, to benefit our community and share the approaches we evolve with other Integrated Care Systems.”

The National Centre for Creative Health will be launched at 2pm on 9th March 2021 at an online event. 

ends

For further information
Gillian Taylor 07761 546075
gillian@gilliantaylorpr.com


Notes for editors

To receive an invitation to the online launch event, please email: info@ncch.org.uk, including your name and publication/media outlet.

The programme for the launch will be available in mid February.

The Creative Health report is the result of a two-year inquiry led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. It brings together over a thousand published studies outlining the role of arts and creativity in supporting health across the life course. 

The World Health Organisation scoping review: What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing? synthesizes the global evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being, with a specific focus on the WHO European Region. Results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan. 

Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review investigates how the pandemic has affected health inequalities in England.

The increasing gap in inequalities was evidenced in Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, published in February 2020.

The Centre is working with Integrated Care Systems to explore models for integrating creative health at a systems level through a programme of ‘Hubs’ in Gloucestershire, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, Suffolk and North East Essex, and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.




Somerset joins together to create a county-wide panto

People in Somerset will have the opportunity to appear on the virtual stage with Cinderella.

Venues in Somerset have come together to create the perfect solution for panto in a pandemic. Each scene of ‘In Search of Cinderella’ will be recorded at a well-known theatre or arts centre as part of an online performance.

Families across the county and further afield will be able to enjoy the virtual panto from the comfort of their own homes as they join together to celebrate Somerset. 

Acts will be performed at venues around the county, and the winners of the Ugly Sisters competition will be filmed trying on Cinderella’s slipper.

The play is produced by Richard Crowe, Over the Wall in association with The Engine Room. Writer Richard Crowe of Over The Wall said:
“We’re creating something very special with and for the people of Somerset. There’s a fantastic local tradition of panto, and we wanted to involve people across the county at this unusual time. This story belongs to us – Somerset isCinderella. We’re the county people drive through without stopping, and we’re the county that punches above its weight. We don’t always acknowledge the amazing things that happen here, such as Carnival and all our local traditions. This is an opportunity to join across the county and celebrate what we’ve got and who we are.”

The participating venues are: Strode TheatreTaunton BrewhouseThe Regal Theatre MineheadBridgwater Arts CentreThe David Hall South Petherton, and the performance will end with the Prince and Cinders’ wedding at Glastonbury Abbey.

As well as the Ugly Sisters competition, designs are invited for the glass slipper and the wedding cake to appear in a gallery as part of the show.

Children at Butleigh C of E Primary School are gearing up to record their ‘It’s behind you’ moments for the performance.

The project is funded by Arts Council England, Somerset West & Taunton Council, the BARN initiative (via Take Art) and by the people of Somerset and further afield, through a fundraiser.

In Search of Cinderella premieres online at 6pm on Wednesday 20 January. Information about the performance and competitions will be available at insearchofcinderella.com

Ends

Notes for Editors

In Search of Cinderella is a Richard Crowe | Over the Wall production in association with Somerset Film and Wassail Theatre Company and with the participation of the theatres and arts centres of Somerset.

Donations will be in aid of the participating venues to help support them in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The production was created and recorded in accordance with the latest government C-19 guidelines.







Disabled Actors Joined by Coronation Street Star for Lockdown Play

A cast of Devon-based disabled actors will be joined by Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston in a short film which explores isolation in lockdown.

‘When The Wheels Come Off’ is a new drama which will be premiered online on Thursday 29 October. It is produced by CEDA and performed by their drama group, a company of actors who use performing skills to tell their stories of life and disability. Their work deals with the trials and frustrations, the victories and challenges of everyday life.

The group worked together online to build a story around thoughts, feelings and ideas which they had started to discuss in workshops before lockdown. The drama starts before lockdown, with a news report about Rona, a wheelchair user who was isolated in her flat for over six weeks because the lift was broken.

As part of the drama, Rona looks out of the window and the audience hears her thoughts which are voiced by Cherylee Houston.

CEDA’s Craig Bowden said:
“When we were looking for someone to voice Rona’s thoughts, we felt it was vital that that person was a disabled actor. We invited Cherylee to be part of the project, and we were delighted when she accepted. It’s been a great experience for the team to work with her as an actor, and as an advocate for disability access.”

Actor Cherylee Houston said:“Lockdown has made us all on a level, a place where we can all get into the same virtual room; this for disabled people is very different in life away from COVID. I absolutely loved meeting and working with the CEDA team, it was great to be part of a film which was led by the group members’ ideas and experiences – CEDA are doing great work! I was keen to be part of the project for this very reason – often our stories are untold, and our everyday experiences ignored. It’s great when disabled people are allowed the space to advocate for themselves and tell our stories in our own words. That’s how life will change for us – change how we are included in society, to be allowed our proper place alongside everyone else.”

Writer and Director Conor Magee said:
“Many disabled people experience isolation in their lives, and feel the frustration of not being able to do the things they need to or the things they enjoy, because the system lets them down. During this unusual time, we have all had a taste of what that’s like – but will we all remember after the pandemic has passed? That’s the question we ask through this drama. It’s a tough question to confront the audience with, and it’s a very important one.”

The drama was filmed using mobile phones with remote direction via zoom. Although this process was challenging, it also opened up possibilities for the team.

The drama was produced as part of CEDA’s ongoing partnership with Exeter Northcott Theatre and will be premiered online, followed by a live Q&A on Thursday 29 October as part of Unlocktoberfest.

Creative Transitions – Creativity helps wellbeing for vulnerable young people in Torbay

Young carers, young parents, and young disabled people in Torbay are receiving creative packs in the post as part of a project to improve wellbeing.

As part of Creative Transitions, artists are using creativity to benefit vulnerable young people who face challenges as they go into adulthood. The project, which is organised by Torbay Culture, aims to help the young people gain confidence, build resilience and improve their communication skills.

The three groups of young people taking part are facing transition to adulthood in different ways.

Participate Arts  have been working with a group of young carers, sending them regular parcels during lockdown, with all the things they need for a creative project, including a snack to make the experience even more enjoyable. Activities have included creating a mandala, making a matchbox keepsake, clay modelling and writing journals. Meetings happen online, and will continue digitally.

Becci Eriksson from Participate Arts said:
“These young people are caring for relatives who are vulnerable, which often has meant the whole family has been shielding during lockdown. The young carers are more isolated than usual, so the idea behind our project is to send out weekly art packs and then follow up with the participants. Each pack’s task is connected to a Creative Journal they are making, giving them some time out to enjoy something for themselves. It’s an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings, express themselves creatively and be heard.”

Visual artist Anna Bowland has been meeting online with a group of disabled young people from PHAB. Everyone in the group receives a box of materials to create artwork which they then share and discuss.

Musician Laura Forster is working with a group of young parents from South Devon College. She has created a pack of simple musical instruments for each family and held zoom singing sessions. The group is creating a series of songs which they plan to make into a CD to share. When college starts again, they plan to meet together as a group to continue their activities.

The project is part of Torbay’s Great Place Scheme which helps residents lead healthier, happier lives through creativity. The Scheme is delivered by Torbay Culture which aims to improve the quality of life for people in the Bay through participation in culture, as outlined in Enjoy, Talk, Do, Be, Torbay’s ten year cultural strategy. Creative Transitions builds on the knowledge gathered through a series of ‘test and learn’ projects over the last four years.

Torbay Culture Director Martin Thomas said:
“One of the objectives of Torbay’s ten-year cultural strategy is to harness the health and wellbeing benefits of culture. An increasing amount of academic research shows the beneficial outcomes that culture can provide. With this project, we’re creating the opportunity for groups of vulnerable young people to take part in a creative project focussed on building resilience and supporting the transition into adulthood.

“Each of the projects has responded to the needs and desires of the young people taking part, and we hope that this project will catalyse the creation of ongoing groups, led by the young people, to create safe spaces and sustainable activities.”

The projects run to the end of October; some groups will continue digitally, while others hope to meet in person.

Creative Transitions is a Torbay Culture project delivered in partnership with Public Health Torbay and Imagine This…

Thousand year old riddle inspires interactive artwork

red field contrasting with bright blue sky. Telegraph cables in distance

A thousand-year-old riddle has brought together printmakers, historians, a poet and a filmmaker.

Riddle 57 from The Exeter Book has inspired artwork which has been used to create an online interactive version of the riddle.

Double Elephant Print Workshop invited visual responses to Riddle 57 from The Exeter Book – one of only four surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry and probably the oldest surviving book of English poetry in the world.

Poet Jacob Polley wrote a series of prompts as inspiration for artists whose contributions have come from around the country, and further afield. These visual responses have been used in an animation.

Three experts were invited to translate the riddle, and viewers can now select from a range of possible meanings to create their own modern-day version of Riddle 57. With seven lines, and three different translations, there are 2,187 possible versions of the riddle.

Each translation is an interpretation of the original meaning. This is interesting enough with a regular poem, but with a riddle, possible solutions may be closed off when the translater makes choices about the words to use. The writer of the riddle was playing with words to intentionally misdirect the reader, so each translator has to make decisions about what the original writer wanted to say.

Poet and Professor of Creative Writing, Jacob Polley said:
“These artistic responses to the riddle 57 are new interpretations of a text that’s lasted over a thousand years, showing that the mysteries of the riddles can provoke and inspire extraordinary creativity today.”

Emma Molony, Project Manager, Double Elephant Print Workshop said:
“We’re interested in how the language and imagery from a riddle that’s a thousand years old can resonate today and inspire new work. This has been a really positive project for us to focus on during isolation. It’s been a new challenge for us to pull it together collaboratively online with project partners locked down across the world.”

The interactive animation of Riddle 57 will be online from Thursday 20 August.

The project has been funded by The National Lottery through the Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund and is an Exeter UNESCO City of Literature Associate Project.

Lockdown inspires creativity for Exeter artist

Artist painting onto a ceramic jug in her studio, surrounded by paints

The adversity of lockdown has sparked even more creativity for Exeter-based artist Veronica Gosling.

At Studio 36, Veronica has created a quirky, inspiring space within which, in normal times, she has held exhibitions of her own and other artists’ work, and used it as a gathering space for activity groups, and a place for informal performances with a talented group of local musicians, poets, and dancers.

Wishing to contribute, during this strange time, to her own community of Newtown & St Leonards, she has begun a project called Get On Board. Using a large and beautifully designed noticeboard, she has encouraged local artists, and writers, young and old, to unlock their thoughts, feelings and observations by sharing artwork, photos, poems and stories. The response has been enthusiastic, with art coming from people of all ages – enough to fill the board for the first month and beyond.

Another project involves personal online input from the Studio’s mailing list. It is entitled
House Lights On and features weekly input from studio visitors including their ideas, thoughts and often what they do, boatbuild, fish, weather details, woodwork, plus paintings of shoes, cartoons, jewellery, ‘Hedge Chairs’ many poems and a description of  some vivid COVID-19 dreams.

Veronica’s own art is all around Studio 36, the place where she lives and works. Creativity spills out into the sculpture garden, where her latest creation depicts two passers by peering over the fence. Her quirky paintings often feature animals, which she uses to express her feelings. The texture, shape and story behind a found object often inspires a magical creation.

As well as showcasing her own work, Studio 36 has been a hub for a group from Age UK. Exeter called Budding Friends. Thought of as ‘Conversations in Colour’ the sessions which need neither language nor memory bring people with dementia and their carers together to chat and paint.

Veronica said:
“Lockdown has made me more driven; I’ve become obsessed with my work. It helps me to stop thinking about the situation we’re all in, and stops me feeling lonely. I  like meeting new people and sharing this place with them. It’s  a shame we can’t do that at the moment. Every time we have an exhibition, the place is full. I think people enjoy the informality of  the gallery and garden.”

Veronica is planning to open the sculpture garden for private bookings for small groups in the near future.

Night & Refuge

Online premiere hosted by Cement Fields,
Noon, Friday 10 July

A new film-poem created during a live night-time collaboration by five poets will be premiered on Friday 10 July. Night & Refuge creatively documents the process of writing together online during lockdown, and ends with a reading of the new poem.

The project was created by Caroline Bergvall who invited poets Leo Boix, Vahni Capildeo, Will Harris and Nisha Ramayaa to collaborate.

The writing process took place in May, when the writing and conversations between the poets were shared live with an online audience through a Digital Writing Desk created by artist Mays Albeik.

The poets explored themes of the night and of seeking refuge. Their collaborative process was inspired by the tradition of Renga – an ancient Japanese form of collective writing with strict rules.

One audience member said:
“It was the totality of the various threads of writing, talk about writing, the stories, locations, medium and context that fascinated and moved me. I did take pleasure in watching the poets edit their text, rooting for my preference and learning from their choices.”

The conversations and the developing lines of the poem were recorded by the project’s sound artist Jamie Hamilton, and recomposed into a film-poem by Andrew Delaney.

The premiere will be hosted by Cement Fields, a commissioning organisation which grew out of the Whitstable Biennale.

Caroline Bergvall said:
“I see this Night & Refuge as a meditative, and deeply human work rooted in the night and in our need to find a way through the darkness that enfolds us. It is intensely involving, reviving the ancient idea of performance as public gathering while exploring how poetry, music and memory all help us carry our truths within and without us.

“My motivation as a poet and interdisciplinary artist is to create live works that energize a personal engagement with one’s surroundings, with one’s time, and with others: spaces of respite and of shared critical spirit. My material is often rooted in languages, spoken, written, remembered, reclaimed.

“With Night & Refuge, my focus was to initiate a live writing event between a few UK based poets, which was open to the public. Due to Covid-19 this took place online. Night & Refuge opens the final stages of my ongoing cycle of performative works Sonic Atlas, which has focused on encounters with poets and language-activists who work with different minorised languages in the UK and EU, as well as with thinkers and practitioners from various fields.”

The Night & Refuge project was made possible with funding from Arts Council England and support from Cement Fields and Counterpoints Arts.

The recording of the full, unedited writing event, which took place in May as a 3-hour long Zoom meeting, is available online [add link].

The sound-poem will be premiered on the Cement Fields website  at noon on Friday 10 July.