At Oxheys we have always firmly believed in community and making or facilitating art in the community is what we do and what we enjoy. In the lead up to our Making A Mark event on Preston Flag Market on 17th July 2021, some of our artists ran workshops in the community which were even more important when so much activity had stopped due to the pandemic.
Evelyn and Caroline ran two pre-event workshops at Preston Market and covered various book making, card making and related subjects. An unexpected opportunity then let them run two more workshops, one at the community cafe in Ashton, which was a great venue and was welcome as not much activity had been taking place in the area due to the pandemic.
There was a great deal of recycling and one attendee created a book to send a pen friend while a young 16 year old boy with Autism and who suffers from anxiety, ran a variety of cards through different embossing plates to make a tactile book which he can use to help manage his emotions. Everyone seemed to enjoy the activities and being out and about once again.
Bernie delivered two workshops with Farringdon Park Community Centre over 50s group, aimed at combatting isolation and this was the first time most had met in a group since before the pandemic. Particularly important for this group as many live alone.
Farringdon Park Community Centre is situated in a deprived part of Preston, one of the participants is disabled and three are over 80. The sessions were enjoyed by all the participants, who were intrigued to be part of the installation and the event itself. Sadly most were unable to attend on the day due to unavoidable circumstances so Bernie photographed and videoed the developing and finished installation so that the group members can see how their contributions added to the start and how the installation ended up at the end of the day.
The activity gave a lot of opportunity to explore group members’ experiences and feelings during the pandemic. Particularly important for this group as most of them live alone. It proved to be an uplifting experience as negative feelings could be expressed and let go, and positive coping strategies could be applauded and celebrated.
Attendees of all workshops had a great time and said how pleased they were to get out again and how much they enjoyed taking part. We hope to build on this for the future.
If you run a community cafe or project and have opportunities for artist-run workshops please get in touch.