We are delighted to share the feedback offered by the participants of the project at the Showcase sessions and what we found out and learnt during A Pocketful of treasure research and development project, supported by Arts Council England.
“As you’re talking about something, someone else [from another group] is also talking about that same thing that you are holding onto. We are actually all similar.” WCE participant
For Rachel and myself it has been quite a journey, (quite literally driving up and down the M1 and over the peaks between Nottingham, Bury and Manchester).
An element that came across strongly whilst working with the groups, was the powerhouse of resilience, stoicism and much warmth and laughter.
At the beginning of the project, we wondered, would there be common themes or shared treasures, in the make-up of the stories between the three groups involved.
‘Resilience and Laughter’ has become very much the common theme between people in all groups, all mostly having dealt with tricky or difficult unexpected life circumstances. The stories reflected the shared strength people have to continue despite these difficulties, with themes of family, loss, health and wellbeing, being similar between all groups.
“Everybody seemed to have the same looking to the future but looking to the past as well.”
Happy Monday’s participant.
Myself and Rachel have been humbled and honoured by everyone taking time to share their stories with us, which at times have been very emotional parts of people’s lives, and being so welcoming and warm towards us.
“Loved the Poem. It made people cry, lots of people could connect to it.”
“…. there is an optimism as well, a really positive optimism (they quote a line quoted from the poem) I am gonna get better (lots of agreeing).” Speakeasy participant after listening to the Collaborative Poem.
Once all workshops had been run, stories and recreated treasures collected together, we explored ways that would reflect back the essence of these and unite all three groups, using methods of story-telling and digital components to make interactive Maquette’s (small art works in the initial development stage).
Four digital Maquette’s were made, taking one story recorded from each group, which when touched triggered the story. Sam Orton a writer/storyteller who attended all three workshop sessions, wrote a Collaborative poem which encompasses an element from everyone’s stories.
We showed the Maquette’s and read the poem alongside images of everyone’s work.
With each group we discussed the impact of sharing stories and re-creating personal treasures, both in your own groups and with a wider audience (the other groups), asking if it supported building a sense of community.
We asked for feedback from the three groups as to what it was like to be involved and what they thought of the project and our artistic response to their work and offered stories.
Here is what some of the participants said:
“When I say it represented a theme as well the majority of the treasures related to people, not to places or to things but to people. Maybe that’s because people are a big part of our lives. Our emotion.”
WCE Participant explained, “…how we (Rachel and Sharon artists) have had a positive impact on the group, she feels that we have given something back to the group by coming back with work in progress and showing what we have made so far”.
Kate Williams Levenshulme Inspire Project Manager said, “All the feedback I received was good and Pat said, ‘it had given her a real lift’.” (hearing her story, and it being the inspiration for the Rabbit and Locket Maquette.)
“It feels great and so many things connecting to our life too.”
“Yes. It’s like a spider’s web. You’ve got the centre and then it is spreading out.”
People have been very willing to share their personal stories with each other and have witnessed the benefit this has had on their group, and in turn the other groups involved.
What came across to us most was human resilience, our ability to laugh and be strong in the face of adversity. That a creative story telling project does bring people together, it values people and communities, offering a lasting beneficial impact on wellbeing.
We found that hearing one’s own story amongst others in your community, seeing how the different groups had similar stories and experiences despite the different make up of each groups, is a positive experience for those involved.
“I think these kind of groups and these kind of activities they open doors….”
Our intentions or what next?
We are inspired by the unexpected link revealed during the project – an outstanding ‘resilience’ to life despite major difficulties and sadness.
We will continue to work with a diverse range of communities, uniting through sharing stories. We will reinterpret the essence of these stories, disseminating them with a range of ‘art’ online and touring to communities. Hopeful to link groups together with these shared artworks and the creative process. Experiencing common themes they may surprisingly have despite our ‘apparent’ differences.
‘As you’re talking about something, someone else [from another group] is also talking about that same thing that you are holding onto. We are actually all similar.’ WCE Participant
- We are going to continue our journey with Digital creativity combined with visual arts, looking at stories in boxes.
- The WCE group would like us to work with them to support and develop their stories into a ‘personal museum’ with digital triggered stories.
- The Speakeasy group is devising a creative writing project with Sam Orton.
- We are hoping to see a picture of Pat’s Rabbit from The Happy Mondays Inspired People. Once we have one we will post its celebrity image on the Website and across social media!
NB: the Women’s Cultural Exchange, WCE has now re-named as Global Sistaz United.