I’m really proud to be part of a new publication, This Is Brent. It’s the result of a project at Brent Museum and Archives during which a group of young people were invited to become cultural researchers, gathering information, taking photographs, conducting interviews and generally exploring the borough past and present.
The publication includes the poem ‘In Brent I’m on top of the World’, which I wrote while I was Poet in Residence at Willesden Green Library. Artist Alex McIntyre and I wanted to find ways of animating our exhibition space so we created a writing wall where the public and young people involved in the project could leave comments about their environment using prompts and questions we provided. The poem was formed by rearranging their comments, with sometimes surreal results. It’s called crowd-sourcing, I think!
It’s great to see it combined with the young people’s own discoveries. To see the whole book, click here, then click on the book cover to flick through. You can also find the poem in an easy-to-read version on the page about my collaborations with Alex by clicking here.
Creative Partnerships was an Arts Council-funded scheme that placed artists in schools to boost pupils’ creativity. The idea was that by working with artists from any discipline, staff and pupils would experience at first hand the risk-taking, lateral thinking, communication skills, collaboration, flexibility and open-mindedness that are key to any creative endeavour – and are also the skills and mindsets needed to succeed in the modern world.
The scheme was axed in 2011 – despite research showing that it significantly raised pupils’ attainment and motivation and boosted staff skills and morale. It was also an economic lifeline for many an artist (including me!).
Personally, I found that working within the programme developed the same values within my own practice as we were trying to instil in the young people, in particular risk-taking and collaboration. Many of the projects I have embarked on since would never have happened without the confidence to ‘have a go’ that I learned through CP and the many creative people I met.
My former colleague, Martin Heaney, has just written about the CP legacy for Arts Professional, using my collaboration with Alex McIntyre at Brent as an example of its impact on artists who worked within the programme.
To read his conclusions, click here.