In 2019 I was a recipient of the Arts Council’s developing your creative practice.
I worked on a self initiated project interested in themes of care and curiosity in relation to green spaces.
I chose to focus on the 4 green spaces that surrounded where I lived at the time, in Eastfield, Peterborough:
Some that actively receive a lot of care, others that do not.
Some that are full of overt curiosities, others that are not.
I sought to develop a project and response to these spaces that highlighted their hidden histories, their subtle assets; performing small acts in these spaces, hosting activity and making work in response to them.
– planting a ring of violet Violas around a base of a Wellingtonia tree, to highlight these well loved features (by some) to others;
– re-painting the roof of a forlorn piece of charming play equipment favoured by local children in a park, at risk of being removed;
– hosting a squirrel photo competition in a park – taking photos of squirrels being a very popular past time for park users
– hosting a local history talk at a retirement home on the history of the recreation ground they over look – gifting them with a game of quoits, previously played on the site.
I worked with a local historian Hazel Perry in order to research these spaces and produce an accessible text to disseminate.
I went on walks with Council Officers to point out aspects that local people wanted to see improved about these spaces, successfully seeing a new notice board installed to replace a long-term defunct one (horray!).
I researched UK wide initiatives to support parks including Nesta’s Rethinking Parks programme, attending a training session hosted by them and meeting with the lead of the programme.
I spoke to parks forums across the country, interested in joined up approaches to helping all green spaces across cities, especially those neglected ones to develop.
The project evolved to include work around my own mental health (recovery) in relation to green space.
It evolved to include a creative evaluation of the everyday features found in these spaces.
To bring it all together I created a small zine to capture what happened.
During ‘lockdown’ I posted out 40 copies of the zine to people across Peterborough. Linking to the zine, I sent out weekly challenges, which encouraged people to engage with their local green spaces in new ways. These challenges included keeping multi sensory diaries of spaces, researching their histories, performing small acts of care and more.
You can access the zine here on Issu, or get in touch if you would like a copy.
Thanks to everyone who supported me through this project, and specifically artists-friends mentors: Kate Genever, Matt Booker and Ryan Smith and thanks to Mark Richards, Ellie Shipman, Sandra Keating for advice and thoughts. Thanks also to Metal Southend for hosting me as resident Artist, where I produced a trial version of this zine, using the same approach and focus.
And big thanks to the Arts Council of England.