One of Ignite’s major projects during Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, Reimagine commissioned four Sheffield artists to work closely with groups from four different communities and twelve local partner organisations in Sheffield to co-produce community-led artworks. Supported by five additional artists in the making process, these works became immersive artistic experiences presented in and for the neighbourhoods and communities who created them.
Working with changing government Covid guidelines, the artists and communities showed amazing resilience and flexibility in finding ways to work together to create and present four inspirational works that responded to each community and the pandemic. In addition to direct work with local residents and community groups, we worked with partners to distribute arts creativity packs to households in need, containing arts materials and activity ideas to encourage creativity and participation.
Over 500 participants were involved in the co-production of the works, and even with lockdowns restricting audiences, the presentations and exhibitions were still experienced by over 1,300 people.
Laura Page presented All Things are Connected, an Immersive film experience representing the experience of lockdown of an over 50s community who live in a retirement village.
In November 2020, 100 Creativity Packs were delivered to residents with instructions and materials for how to create a postcard. 70 postcards were returned to be part of the immersive experience.
We held group Zoom workshops to help engage residents who struggled with technology and needed a carer present.
We set up a free-standing four-walled living room with an armchair for audience members to sit on, with the film projected onto the ‘walls’ giving the illusion of looking through the window during lockdown.
Outside of the free-standing living room, the piece was accompanied by an exhibition of postcards made by the residents.
The immersive film experience was shown at Brunswick Gardens just before Christmas 2020.
Sara Beavan Widdowson presented Illuminating Experiences, a window installation displayed at The Learning Zone, Parsons Cross for ten days in January 2021. The work included a village of lantern houses complemented by animated versions of drawings created by community participants from 60 year 6 children from Meynell Primary School and 11 people attending Parson Cross Memory Café Dementia Forum.
In addition, 100 Creativity Packs were distributed by partner SOAR to other local organisations so families in need could have access to arts activities and materials during lockdown.
“Fantastic to see the light installation at Learning Zone! Made our walks all the more enjoyable during lockdown.”
Alex Blakey presented Our Street Shiregreen, an outdoor photography exhibition in the Shiregreen neighbourhood of north Sheffield. We created a wooden structure depicting a street with windows all along the wooden street filled with Alex’s own photography of key workers from across the city and artwork and photographs from local people created in Reimagine project workshops and in response to our photography competition.
Alex delivered creative workshops with 60 year 6 children, held a Zoom workshop for local adults, ran a small-scale photography competition, and distributed 100 creativity packs with art materials and activity ideas.
The works produced by the community and the artist were exhibited outside the Shiregreen Co Op Supermarket in March 2021. The wooden street was then moved to Beck Primary School where it was experienced by all year group bubbles.
While the exhibition was at the Co-op, we distributed 49 Creativity Packs to encourage passers-by to participate in creativity in their homes; some completed the activity in the creativity pack and returned it that day to add their piece to the windows of the street ‘to be a part of something bigger’.
“I hope that it gave the people in Shiregreen a chance to express how they were feeling through art. Sometimes it’s hard, for a number of reasons, to put feelings into words. Art is a universal form that everyone can access.” (Beck Primary School)
Charlie Hill presents Our Happy Place, a secret garden in a quiet and peaceful area in woodland in Manor Fields park, Sheffield. Including fimo models and bunting created by local community groups including Scouts and the Friends of Manor Park Fields, the garden was filled with works reflecting on the things that people had found joy in during the coronavirus pandemic. Elements of joy included cups of tea, knitting, flowers and reading. In the immersive secret garden, these were turned into hanging teacups, giant flowers, giant knitting needle, flying books and more. The secret garden also included postcards detailing more favourite things from lockdown including “enjoying board games” and “mum’s lasagne!”
The garden was open to visitors in the park for two days in March during which it was visited by 150 people.
“Its refreshing to have colour and art on our walk which has been so 'samey' for so long over lockdown. All the sunlight coming through the trees on to the flowers and teacups, creating beautiful reflections is really uplifting. It creates a happy space. Nice to see the community contribute too, nice to see something happening in the park its really brightened it up.”
Impact and legacy
“People seeing the final work talked about pride in their area and connected with the piece and the others involved.”
Reimagine brought communities together, encouraging participation in the creation process, working with a professional artist to produce new work which had something to say about the area and community at this very specific point of time, in the heart of the pandemic.
“A lot of our residents had never used Zoom before; this was a learning experience for some. It was a scary experience using a technology they had never used and an exciting one, interacting with the artist for them.” (Partner, Brunswick Gardens)
“One of our residents who was very social before lock down really benefited from this experience, he was really down and missing his friends and the community we have here, so this really lifted his spirits and was really good for his mental wellbeing.”
MANOR FIELD PARK
Find out more about the projects by watching the REIMAGINE videos below
Funded by: The National Lottery Community Fund