I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter break and the bonus sunshine that came with it! The weather helped to recall all the wonderful things to do and see out and about in the great outdoors!
As you know here at The Conservation Volunteers we like all things green, wild, and natural, and springtime is like a gem for us: a reward for all our volunteers who have endured the harsh conditions of the winter months, the promises of summer shade from lush tree canopies, the longer days, the renewed enthusiasm and fresh ideas for our team and the perfect time to give our activities a go for those who have been pondering about it for a while!
I want to share a little about what I have been up to.
I have started an artistic engagement venture across the wider communities of Northbrook and Eastbrook. I called it ARTs in PARKs, a seasonal art competition to depict our local open spaces and map out what they look like and feel like from the residents’ point of view.
Winter 2018-19 had 20 official entries.
Teenagers, adults as well as groups of toddlers, disabled and elderly residents, all submitted a wide range of artworks from poems to collages, photographs, drawings and sculptures. They were all presented to the public via Facebook for all to share and vote on. Not all went as smoothly as can be, some hiccups in the uploading of the photos album and one collage got left behind (and I am truly apologising for the disappointment this caused).
Yet, eventually, thumb ups aka ‘likes’ were counted up and 3 winners were found:
First prize came to The Pines day centre in Durrington, with their felt sculptures of woodland animals. They received a Hobbycraft £50 voucher. ‘This will be well spent on the completion of their next sculpture, a giant bee this time!’ said the group leader, talented artist and carer Jay Maher.
Second prize was for Bradley Hoodley aged 9 with ‘Southwick Hill: 2 dogs & 2 cows’. Bradley, encouraged by his grandmother Tracy Wise, won a £50 voucher to the New Port Arms gastropub (formerly Pebble on the Port) in Southwick. No doubt Tracy will be invited to the feast! This was donated by Shoreham port Authorities. So a big thank you to them.
Third place was an atmospheric photograph of the seaside by Nigel Slade who will be spending his donated £20 voucher at Marks & Spencer. Another grateful thank you to them.
The work is currently displayed as a series of photographs on clipboards in the atrium (upstairs) of Worthing Town Hall. We had a prize ceremony earlier this week and a mention by the mayor at the full councillors meeting.
Some originals pieces are also displayed in Durrington Community Centre in the café area.
What is next? Well, the Spring ARTs in PARKs competition is open. Residents of Eastbrook & Northbrook and beyond have until 1st June to submit their masterpiece for a chance to tell us what they DO and SEE and their local open spaces, green or blue: parks, the Downs, foreshore or just that tree they pass every day on their commute to school, to work or to the local shop!
With this competition, I want to give everyone the excuse to pay that extra bit of attention to those pockets of urban green spaces dotted around our cities. I want to initiate a pose, a reflexion on our urban surroundings. How do people enjoy those ‘free’ spaces, those breaths of fresh air in the hustle and bustle of the city and busy lives? I want to encourage residents to actively witness the seasons on their doorstep.
As you can see, I am partial to a bit of art. It transgresses classes, genders and ages. It is accessible, inspiring and can be a powerful tool for changes. This goes quite nicely with my other passion for Sustainable Urban Communities with a focus on its green corridors and their relevance and accessibility for their residents. So, if like me you want to be part of the change you want to see, come and join our Growing Communities projects or any local ‘Friends of’ group in your neighbourhood. They are very friendly and grateful for any support (and will usually feed you tea and biscuits). Go on: Join in feel good.