Books, words, images and partnerships – An Arts and Library Project
The new library at Springfield Community Campus has just opened its doors and Pound Arts has been busy initiating a programme of arts activity to take place within the new space, in partnership with the Library Service and the Wiltshire Arts Development team to promote community engagement with this new facility. Springfield is the first of Wiltshire’s new Campus projects to be completed and there has been much public interest in how this new way of delivering council services and community needs will unfold.
When approaching the task of creating a series of activities for this space I had three guiding principles:
- There should be a theme. This is a series of activities aimed at families and young people, across different artforms but I wanted a common thread to be at work. It is perhaps not surprising that we decided quickly that the theme should take inspiration from our location, and in this instance this means books, words and stories. Libraries are places where stories rest, sleep, awake and sometimes roar.
- As much of this work as possible should be free. We want people to engage.
- The aim was to create work that had the potential to be continued with or without The Pound. We want to create or channel community energy. Because of this, we decided to engage almost exclusively with artists based in Wiltshire leading the work.
With this in mind we devised a programme of work.
There will be weekly creative poetry sessions called Frosted Fire (those who know their poetry may know the quote – answers on a postcard please…). These sessions are led by the inspirational performance poet Jonny Fluffypunk. Jonny is an exceptional enabler – he has that extraordinary skill of making most feel that they can create. His sessions all begin half an hour before the library closes when he launches into an impromptu performance to whomever is lingering in the corridors of books, hiding behind the Dewey Decimal spines…These sessions are great for any ability or experience but young people are requested to bring a grown up with them (we hope that the grown ups will feel less abandoned this way).
For other writers, (14+, adults) we are also running creative writing workshops Speak Easy led by professional playwright Richard Conlon. These sessions will be shaped by the writers who turn up – we are willing to work within the writers chosen medium. I work as a writer and am painfully aware of how solitary a creative experience writing is. The sessions are an opportunity to share a little of the process and product and receive some constructive assistance.
Capturing Corsham is a two pronged project. I have a fascination with the way in which our perception alters the way we feel about a place, and ultimately the stories that we tell. Whilst I worked in Chester I was commissioned by the tourism officer to work with a group of teenagers to produce a tourism brochure and promotional video for the city. The results were startling – the teenagers saw the city through a completely different lens than adults. Indeed, the places that they featured as having cultural significance were often completely unknown to the tourism official. This experience led to the premise for the first stage of Capturing Corsham in which we aim to see Corsham through the eyes of a child. This stage is a family photography day in which families are given guidance of how to produce articulate photographs of place and time and are then encouraged to go on a trail of the town allowing the child to record landmarks and moments along the route. There is even the option of a family picnic mid route. Then the results will be exhibited in the Campus. Also during this project, the artist, India Pocock, will be working alongside a local school to recreate famous painting through photography (inspired by the way that television and film companies use Corsham to recreate period dramas).
Here at The Pound, one of our resident artists is an accomplished children’s illustrator. Chris Dunn creates beautiful detailed narrative paintings and Chris will be drawing on his experience and skill to lead workshops, kicking off with the children’s favourite, Wind in the Willows, for those wanting to explore this craft – these workshops are titled Drawing Breath.
There are a plethora of other activities between now and Christmas – we will be running regular after hours stories in the Library after hours (Sleeping Words) in which storytellers will recreate live versions of much loved books by contemporary children’s authors. There will be live music, pyjama’s maybe a little candlelight and some surprising characters popping up all around. There will also be live performances by children’s theatre companies in the library space later in the year. We will be marking Halloween with ghost stories by candlelight for children, with face painting and optional ectoplasm and if there are any adults who are brave enough, there will be an opportunity to hear late night ghost stories by the great writers (MR James, Le Fanu etc) – all under the Haunting Words.
Alongside all this activity we have commissioned Artist Penney Ellis to produce A Moment in Time. This will be a record of the entire programme of work, in this moment of change for Corsham. The result of this work (and work produced through the other workshops) will be a book that will sit proudly on the shelves of the new library.
We hope that this work will engage with new audiences and participants in Corsham. We hope that we play a small role in a successful beginning for Springfield. We also hope that we may have the opportunity to do similar work in some of the other 17 Campus projects happening across Wiltshire. I believe with a passionate zeal in the power of creativity to harness community energy and in the shared experience of books and art to help enrich lives. Writer Neil Gaiman says it better:
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
If you would like to find out more about any of the activities, or want to book on to one of the free workshops please ring the Pound Box Office on 01249 701628 or visit our website http://www.poundarts.org.uk
All Events are free but ticketed!
This is part of the Creative Libraries project which is funded by the National Lottery via Arts Council England.
- For regular updates on news and activities at Springfield Community Campus, please follow on Twitter – https://twitter.com/CorshamCampus #SpringfieldCampus
- For further information about the services and facilities available at Springfield Community Campus, please visit the website – http://www.springfieldcampus.org.uk/
Russ Tunney, Director, Pound Arts, Corsham