In the summer of 2018 The People’s String Foundation 32 piece Gypsy Orchestra was recorded performing at the Hall For Cornwall. The incredible footage was used as backing for the multi-media theatre show Res Publica, which saw Ben Sutcliffe and fellow musician Zaid Al-Rikabi play live over the top of a ‘Virtual Orchestra’ projection.
Res Publica has been a unique community-focussed project that went to isolated places across Cornwall and the South West which could not usually fit or afford an orchestra; village halls, pubs, cafes, churches, theatres, galleries and streets.
The team gave free workshops alongside the performances, offering everyone the chance to participate despite their means or background. The workshops explored the show’s narrative through puppetry, dance, circus, art, cinematography, animation and acting, with the performances being enjoyed by over 6000 people in 34 locations.
One viola player from the Penzance Youth Orchestra was so engaged with her workshop and subsequent performance at St Just Miners’ Chapel that she asked how she could have a career in writing and musical performance. Ben has since invited her to shadow him when he works with the Minack Theatre later in the year.
The Res Publica project was refined and developed during the tour and is now completely self-contained and ready to tour again later in 2019 without any financial support. It’s fantastic that this show has developed to the point where it is self-sustaining. What’s more the team will still be offering free community workshops alongside the tour!
Hats off to Liskeard’s women workers
Each year Heritage Open Days sees architectural and cultural locations across the country open their doors for free visits to celebrate their heritage, community and history. The theme for 2018 has been Women and Power. The Hats off to Liskeard’s women workers project was part of Liskeard Unlocked Festival, which opened local historical buildings in Liskeard for people to explore, and learn the history of the town through its female characters.
Liskeard celebrated the history of women who worked and ran businesses in the town, including Alice Matthews, a printer and newspaper publisher on Market Street in the 1850s-1880s. Mary Stantan who ran Stantan’s Draper’s Shop in the 1860’s and Eliza ‘Madam’ Garland, who had a photography studio on Fore Street in 1919.
Hillfort and St Martin’s primary schools held workshops where the children made puppets, plaited straw and put on a performance using the characters they had made to tell the stories of Liskeard’s Women Workers. As part of Liskeard’s annual Ploughman’s Festival straw plaiting was demonstrated as a drop-in workshop for people to watch or have a go. More straw plaiting workshops followed at Stuart House for the Liskeard Unlocked festival and a gansey knitting demonstration at Painters art and craft shop. The creations from these sessions were made into a straw bonnet which was displayed in the town on St Matthews Fair day and modelled by the Mayor!
The children’s puppets were displayed in shop windows and the open buildings throughout September with posters giving information about the history of the building and the trades represented. These formed a trail families could follow around the locations where our puppet characters worked and ran businesses.
The project has opened people’s eyes to the incredible industry of local women and their contribution to the town’s success historically and now.
Camelford Night Sky Art Installation
When the local bandstand roof needed to be repaired, Camelford Town Council took the opportunity to raise some money and do something really special. Camelford is within the Dark Skies Designation of Bodmin Moor, so it was decided that a night sky installation would be an fitting idea.
Young people from the town worked with Camelford-based company SX2 Electrical and local DT Teacher Gerard McMahon to help design and build the constellations. They used their own creations, as well as other constellations based on their birth signs. 350 holes were drilled into the 12 panels and fibre-optic lights placed within.
The bandstand is now a rejuvenated space for artists and musicians with the starry night panels making for a unique venue, and seating benches are being installed next year which will make the space even more versatile for the public.
The town was honoured when HRH Princess Alexandra visited the bandstand and spoke to some of the young people who took part in the project. She was very impressed with their work. Members of the community showed their support:
“So pleased to see so many creative things happening in Camelford. The mural looks great, the poetry bridge and now the bandstand. Let’s hope this starts to bring people into Camelford!”
“I absolute love looking out of my windows and seeing the pretty lights. Looks lovely”
This project forms part of a wider investment in the cultural infrastructure of Camelford, which is having a positive impact on the aesthetics of the Town. This is fostering a sense of pride and hope in the community and transforming Camelford into a place that others would want to visit and explore.
On November 9th the Poppy Wave was installed in the bandstand for Remembrance weekend. The town council ensured the lights of the bandstand remained red during the Remembrance period. At night the effect of this was startling and the warm glow illuminated the poppies, heightening the poignant atmosphere.
Let’s Paint Penzance!
This summer local artists were given the opportunity to bring some colour and fun to the streets of Penzance by jazzing up the street light feeder boxes.
This project was inspired by similar street art activities in Carvoeiro, Portugal and Dublin where public art is embraced by the local residents. The designs that were selected through a submission process reflect the town’s personality and distinctiveness, putting Penzance on the map as a creative, colourful and artistic town.
Passers-by were pleasantly surprised to find the artists hard at work hard-painting their designs onto the metal and happy to stop and chat.The wave of positive feedback that was received showed that many had found it truly heartwarming to see colour and a sense of pride brought to the town.
The ‘Let’s Paint Penzance’ project is already bearing fruit as other Penzance-based community groups are now getting involved in creating their own street art. Pop Up Penzance, the organisation that ran the project have already received donations from members of the public toward more artwork. They are now looking at developing a more ambitious street art project in the next 12 months, and to create greater opportunities for local businesses, families and individuals to contribute to the street art.
All Going Nowhere Together
‘All Going Nowhere Together’, by Naomi Frears. Commissioned for the Groundwork season of international art in Cornwall, Sunday 9 September 2018. Image: © Naomi Frears
‘All Going Nowhere Together’ was a project by St Ives-based artist Naomi Frears in collaboration with Cornwall-born, internationally renowned DJ Luke Vibert as part of the Groundwork programme.
On a bright Sunday morning in September in Pool, participants gathered to perform a choreographed parking sequence with new music constructed from sound recordings taken in Cornwall, broadcast directly into their cars through a temporary FM radio station.
This work by Frears was inspired by a project she took part in during the 1990s. She was asked to choose her favourite short journey to a beauty spot, with the soundtrack of her choice. Frears, whose father had died six weeks before, asked the driver to go up to the big car park in town playing the track We’re So Lovely by Wagon Christ (one of the many names of Luke Vibert). The music played, the car moved, for the first time since her father’s death, Naomi realised she might feel alright again.
In 2015 Frears contacted Vibert and a conversation about working together began. This summer Frears brought a group of people together to experience the joy of listening to great new music in a confined space, each car becoming a tiny nightclub and a frame for their experience that day.
Pool School Gallery Project
Pool Academy secondary school is in heart of Cornwall. The school’s catchment area is in the top 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in England. Among other things lacking in the community, there is little arts provision and it is this imbalance that the Pool School Gallery project has aimed to address in its pilot phase.
A detached building on the school premises has been transformed into a new arts space of exceptional standard, available for the Academy and the wider community. Artist and educator Jonty Lees has lead this project and from the outset he placed responsibility with these young people to help shape the Gallery, trusting them to deliver as professionals.
FEAST funding has enabled two artists of international renown to take up residencies with the Gallery, making new work that’s been exhibited there. Turner Prize nominee Hilary Lloyd took up residence, followed by the acclaimed Norwegian artist Morten Halverson. Lloyd made a new body of water colour paintings, a radical departure from her usual work. Halverson developed new sound pieces and sculpture, sharing this process with the students and taking them on cultural trips to explore galleries locally.
The Pool School Gallery is also housing works from the Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection. By making pieces from this wonderful collection accessible to Pool, local people now have the chance to experience well known Cornish art where they otherwise couldn’t.
This project has strengthened local connections between Pool Academy and the community and forged new cultural relationships. Through working with the Cornwall Museums Partnership; the Pool School Gallery undertook Arts Award training and has become an Arts Award Centre.
The ultimate ambition moving forward is for the community at Pool Academy to continue to develop and deliver a permanent project space of high quality international art.
Painting: Blue Development by Victor Pasmore, 1964 (Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection)
The Newquay Community Orchard Spring Fayre
The Newquay Community Orchard Spring Fayre has just taken place with a massive 3000 people attending the festival this year compared with 750 in 2017! They enjoyed workshops, craft stalls, a farmers market, talks, games and live music in the spring sunshine.
FEAST funding helped to deliver the Art of Foraging trail which combined wild food foraging with artistic creativity free to all!
Participants started the trail at local independent café Tom Thumb and were then led through the hidden back hedges of Newquay in search of edibles and hand-made woodland creatures. The trail combined the festival’s commitment to minimise the use of vehicles as a means of transport with its love for wildlife and creativity.
“All I can say is I have found my path and a spiritual home I can share with all!”
FEAST also provided materials for Art8 Newquay to run a wild bunting making workshop at the Spring Fayre, where participants collected plants on the trail for use in making bunting prints. Forest school sessions were also running all day with a variety of interactive, creative activities available for people of all ages to engage with.
The Newquay Community Orchard Spring Fayre aims to build a stronger sense of community in the town and through nature based creative activities, help people form a deeper connection with the local environment and share its ethos of environmental sustainability.
“What an absolutely wonderful day it was, so many people, lovely stalls, fab community feel to the day! Well done everyone involved!! It was a triumph! More of this please!”
Signs and Wonders Light Spectacular!
Promotional video courtesy of Day-LIGHT Group CIC, www.thedaylightgroup.wixsite.com
The Day-LIGHT Group CIC has just completed a spectacular series of illuminated events in four stunning locations in Cornwall – St. Rumon’s Garden Redruth, Gwennap Pit, Carn Marth and held a grand finale of all the work in St. Day. During the project they worked with members of the community to create beautiful light installations. Friendships were made; people danced, sung, made music, walked, talked, sketched, listened, learned, enjoyed delicious home baked food and have been inspired!
The creation of these site-specific works helped connect local people with the history and heritage of the areas. The venues chosen were devoid of any light pollution, allowing maximum impact for the atmospheric illuminations. These events were given a magical quality through the use of smoke machines, water, sound and moving image.
Through the course of this project the Day-LIGHT Group have grown enormously in terms of what they can achieve in future projects:
‘The FEAST funding enabled us to do so much – explore new locations, work with more groups and communities, develop fresh skills and explore new technologies. It kick started our funding journey and enabled us to gain a substantial grant from Arts Council England.’
A local attendee noted:
‘My eldest daughter is very shy in large social groups and although she made a lantern at your workshop she was adamant that she would not carry it and did not want to be part of the parade. However on the night she got carried away in the atmosphere and carried her lantern all the way round without even thinking about it.
This might not seem a big deal for some families but for our very introverted little girl this was a massive step and a total joy for me to see!’