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Volunteering - A rewarding experience.

Hopes and Dreams

I attended three different workshops for the Hopes and Dreams projects; Places for people, Together Women and Darnall Library, each one of these provided me with an individual experience. At Places for People we were painting on canvases what represented our ‘Hopes and Dreams.’ Although not many people turned up to the workshop, due to clashes with the eol class, everyone who did was willing to have a go and express themselves. Annie (artist) used visual aids to help break the language barrier between us and the participants, these images were useful to us all as they also acted as inspiration for what to paint. I don’t usually get to make anything of my own at the workshops I attend but at this one I was able to paint an A3 canvas, I found it very therapeutic and highly enjoyable – I was excited when I found out it would also be displayed at the exhibition in the Moor Markets with everyone else’s! I also supported Annie in running the workshops at Together Women; here we had a much larger group. Instead of just painting on the canvases, at this workshop we introduced the ladies to printing, helping them to create their own; these included rainbows, flowers, and the word ‘peace’ in multiple different languages. Although the participants had some difficulties understanding the task, eventually they all got the hang of it and produced wonderful pieces of art, they all appeared very proud of themselves and throughout the session people were constantly smiling. At Darnall Library we did something completely different to the previous workshops, we created dreamcatchers! Angie (artist) set up two tables, an adult’s one for the main activity, and one for the children, which is where I was based for the session. I helped the children create dreamcatchers out of paper plates and string, then we decorated them – sequins and glitter went everywhere! Running an activity for the children was very beneficial as it allowed the adults to have some time to themselves and focus on their own creations. One lady was very impressed, saying that her 3 year old son had never been away from her before and explained how it was the first time he’d ever done an activity with someone independently, knowing this made me feel somewhat privileged that I was able to help them both and also be part of something significant in their lives. The adults reflected upon their hopes and dreams for the future and wrote them onto feathers which were then hung from the dreamcatchers, producing a much more personal touch. I thoroughly enjoyed working on the Hopes and Dreams project; it was a valuable experience for me as I got to learn new techniques to produce my own art, whilst helping others along the way. Overall I think all participants involved throughout all workshops on the Hopes and Dreams project benefitted from the activities, it allowed them to focus on the positive, create something meaningful, and socialise with those similar to them, all of which I think are important aspects to life as a whole.

Painted Fabrics

As soon as I entered the room where the Painted Fabrics group at the Art House were located, I was welcomed in with opened arms, I instantly felt part of the group. Before I had even done anything towards the project I was asked to produce a little bit about myself to be put up in the exhibition, ‘you’re one of us now!’ Their project was about WW1 and the use of painted fabrics in helping soldiers with mental illnesses, I joined the group only for the last few weeks before their exhibition so seeing the research and art they’d already produced about was really impressive to say the least. It was interesting to see how a small group of people who had only known each other for a few months had become so tight-knit. The art studio had such a warm and positive vibe to it, everyone was constantly socialising, joking around, and helping each other, there never seemed to be a dull moment. The first thing I did there was paint onto a plain canvas bag using a stencil, I had never done this before and felt quite reluctant as I thought it hadn’t worked, however members of the group helped reassure my nerves, telling me to trust myself and my abilities, surely enough my bag came out just fine – just like they said it would. I then moved onto adding my own bit to the giant wall hanging created, everyone participated in this activity, this then hung up in the exhibition, not only was this impressive to look at but it was satisfying knowing that it was the one piece of art that signified their teamwork. For the rest of the sessions I helped members of the group with their own individual pieces; making stencils and painting leaves, doing my bit towards the creation of the fabric tree, and helping set up the exhibition, I was determined to do this correctly as I wanted everyone’s visions to be fulfilled. The Painted Fabrics exhibition at the Art House was rewarding for not only the participants, but for me also as I got to see their finished pieces alongside the pride and excitement on their faces as they showed of their hard work to everyone.

Oughtibridge Primary – Lakelands project

As part of the Lakelands project I helped out at Oughtibridge Primary School alongside the artist in order to find out how the children perceived the area they live in. We worked with a year 2 class for three separate sessions. At the beginning of the first workshop we asked them to think of their favourite place in the Lakelands area, they then marked it on the map and proceeded to think about what made that place special to them and what could be done to make that place even better. They then moved onto creating a model of their favourite place using Model Magic, they all got very excited about it especially when they saw you could mix it together to make different colours - ‘it is magic!!!’ The next day we went out to the forest schools area to collect sticks, leaves, pinecones, and all sorts of nature materials to decorate a stick to create ‘Dream Sticks’, here the children wrote their hopes and dreams for the future of their favourite place and tied it onto their Dream Stick - it actually turned out that a lot of them just didn’t like ducks and their ‘dream’ was for them to leave the park, which Charlie (artist) and I found very amusing. On the final day of workshop the children created bunting of the same place they’d been working on before, decorating them with felt and colouring them in. I found working with the children rewarding as they were all very funny and sweet, but also because they all remained focused on what task they had to do despite the excitement of doing something new, it was nice being able to see them enjoying art and doing something different to their usual day to day routine. I think the children at Oughtibridge Primary benefitted from being part of the Lakelands project as it allowed them to start thinking and exploring the area they live in, it also provided them with the idea that there are other ways to express oneself instead of just using words through teaching them new art techniques.

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