Today saw a group from Swansea’s Chinese Community Co-op visit Gower as part of the Bringing Gower Home project. With more than half a century separating the youngest and oldest participants it was really interesting to see what photographic skills people had. Gower Heritage Centre is a brilliant place for families and even more brillianter* for thinking about the way we evolve. Historically and culturally there is a massive amount that we share as people; whether it’s the love of the beach, memories of using old weighing scales, or having fun with chickens. We all speak the same language when we’re telling our stories with pictures and we all have something to learn about the fascinating history of the Gower.
Bringing Gower Home is all about getting the world to engage with this special place and getting Gower to engage with the world. Today’s Swansea Chinese Community certainly did that and at the end of the workshop it was difficult to drag people away from this vibrant place. With five participants under ten years old it is great to think that boredom isn’t something on the agenda here. Incidentally, our youngest participant today was 2 years old. Can you guess which picture might be hers?
*I know ‘brillianter’ isn’t a real word but I like it.
I created a print much like this which is currently for sale on my Artfinder store but this collage was created with something other than sales in mind. Every year I enter the Twitter Art Exhibit. This is a global exhibition which in previous years has seen my art shown in USA and Norway. The exhibition is free to all and every artwork is shown. The idea is that a local charity benefits from any sales of art and that local people benefit as a result. Even though I receive no fee I still create the best work that I can. It’s important to me that the work I create for the exhibition will appeal to somebody. The charities involved are relying completely on the artists giving their best so to sending something I’d love to own myself is vital to making the whole exhibition work.
In 2017 the Twitter Art Exhibit is showing in the UK. I’m really excited about this because it means I’ll finally get to support a UK charity. The exhibition will open on April 1st and is running in aid of Molly Olly’s Wishes. Molly Olly’s is based near Warwick and aims to give people the emotional support families need when their child is faced with a terminal illness. Molly Olly’s grant individual wishes and provide books and toys to children directly as well as to hospitals across the UK.
The exhibition will be at Stratford on Avon right in the heart of the country and I’m already planning a day off so that I can be there for the opening night. If you have no money but want to support the exhibition then why not enter the Twitter Art Exhibit yourself? It’s open to everyone regardless of artistic ability and experience and it’s free to enter. You never know, perhaps your art will be one of the thousands sold to raise money for Molly Olly’s. To find out more about the Twitter Art Exhibit follow this link HERE.
Meanwhile, go to Molly Olly’s Wishes and find out more about the original Molly and how she helped children just like her. Donate and find out more HERE.
‘Divided’ 6″ x 4″ postcard
Whenever I’m not delivering workshops for other people I’m always thinking about my own artistic practice [gluing stuff together]. This started with photography a decade ago and has developed from there [into madness?] I’m not afraid to take my ideas in new directions and give them a go [crazy woman]. Yes it can be scary when I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew [full size mannequin in the living room] but I’m always willing to follow through and see where it leads me [full size mannequin in the living room].
Exploring who we are is key to happiness and creating something can bring a peace that other activities fail to deliver [I’m thinking TV here]. The added bonus is that you have the finished artwork to show [or destroy if it’s a bit crap]. Making time to do the stuff I enjoy is vital otherwise I’d be working around the clock, so I often put in my diary ‘make art’ and tell people I’m not available on that day [selfish I know]. It’s something everyone should do at some point. I mean, how often do you promise yourself you’ll do something for yourself and then 100 other commitments come along and whisk you away from the stuff you wanted to do? Isn’t your life yours? So at some point you should be doing something that benefits you. We all give so much kindness to each other we can’t allow ourselves to always be at the bottom of the pile in giving ourselves some of that kindness [be nice].
So last night I spent a few hours after work [at 9pm] being kind to my artistic soul and giving myself the space I deserved [being nice]. This is the third in my New Forms series and there are a few things I want to do to this artwork before I can say it’s finished [here we go]. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this work is saying and how best to get this message across [omg arty bollocks coming up]. It’s taken me a while to figure things through but doing stuff and plunging into the making side of things has allowed me to work out the mental side of things. It has allowed me the space to work out the philosophy and psychology of what I’m doing to cement itself in my mind [arty bollocks alert! Awoooga! Awoooga! Alert! Alert!]. I’ll spare you the deep and meaningful stuff for now [phew] but I’ve done a write up on what New Forms is about which you can read by clicking HERE.
Meanwhile you can see more of the stuff I do [and even own some of it] over at my Redbubble store [25% off t-shirts today only] and Artfinder stores [please buy my art, I need more glue to play with].
It’s been a busy few days here at HQ with lots of meetings kicking off the Winter photography season. It seems everyone has budgets to spend on rolling out participatory camera confidence courses in their area. This is great news! The sooner people gain confidence through seeing their world differently the better as far as I’m concerned.
Through my courses everyone gets to extend their technical skills about photography as well as exploring their own neighbourhood in new and interesting ways. The aim is to give participants a sense of empowerment and positivity in seeing what’s really going on in the world. We all get ground down by day to day stuff and want to get away from it all, but we forget that some people actually choose our neighbourhoods as their holiday destination. So why is the grass greener on the other side? What is it that tourists see about where we live that we don’t see because we’re too busy? My plan is to show you what they see and help you appreciate the good stuff that’s here.
Of course looking at the outside world is all very well but what about the feelings you have on the inside? The lack of personal confidence you might have is something we all have in common to a certain extent. Photography can help you see what you have about yourself and build you up so that you feel good about who you are. Expressing your emotions artistically as a photograph is a powerful tool that psychoanalysts are just beginning to explore as a therapeutic tool. Telling stories about your hopes and desires through pictures, as well as gaining a sense of inner peace, is something many photographers gain through their practice.
And it’s all happening over the next few months at a community centre near you. New workshops are coming soon to Townhill, Dyfatty, Morriston, Sketty Park, Swansea Chinese Community, Gower, Swansea Sandfields, possibly Gendros, probably Briton Ferry, oh and most definitely Neath if we can fit them in somehow.
Meanwhile I’ll be creating my own personal art over the next few days. I’m trying to fit in a few ideas before more workshops kick off next week. I’ll be telling you more about where you can see my art over the next few days.
Today a participants from ASDES (Autistic Spectrum Disorder Employment Service) got together for a chat about their experience with Bringing Gower Home. We had spent the day in August gaining confidence with the camera out at CHAPS (Community Horse and Pony Scheme). Taking photographs is one thing, meeting new people and engaging socially is something else. This social aspect is something which is often tricky when you have autism. It was really interesting then to have a retrospective look talk today about how they feel they got on with Bringing Gower Home workshop.
It was nice to hear that anyone who felt nervous at the start of the day went home feeling that they’d had a calming and successful day. The Gower evokes a real sense of peace, especially in the woodlands around Gowerton. A lot of visitors to Gower know of the cliffs and beaches but the fields and forests are just as special. The rescue ponies and horses at CHAPS know it and now our ASDES participants know it too. Participants said they’d love to visit Gower again soon and continue to build their self-confidence through experiencing more of this wonderful place. You can see more of the photographs this group took by clicking HERE.
Bringing Gower Home workshops encourage a connection with the landscape and celebrate what is personally special about the Gower. We focus on themes of Natural Gower, The Sea and Gower, Living on Gower, and Historical Gower. I am organising, delivering, and supporting this project in collaboration with Gower Landscape Partnership (GLP) which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Resources Wales, City and County of Swansea, and National Trust.
Today we took a group of participants from Neath out to Llanrhidian today as part of Bringing Gower Home. It’s only a 40 minute drive from Melincryddan Advice Centre to the North Gower coastline so it’s a surprise that most of today’s photographers hadn’t visited this part of the world before.
Accessibility in Wales is always an issue due to the rugged geography, and city folk don’t always have the time (or the means) to take the scenic bus journey out across the beautiful moor lands. It was a real treat then for this group to breathe in the fresh air on the edge of the North Gower coastline. The sleepy-looking village of Llanrhidian is actually a thriving and busy community. This area is famous for its salt marsh lamb, its award-winning pub and its long history of cockle farming. People have lived here for thousands of years and parts of the local church date back to before Viking times.
Exploring and having fun is what Bringing Gower Home is all about. Getting people out of their normal environment and seeing what’s on offer boosts confidence and gives people the chance to see their own world differently. As part of the project this group will showcase their photographic achievements at Neath Cricket Club later this month. They can’t wait to tell friends and family about everything they experienced today. This workshop encourages people who wouldn’t normally access the Gower establish a connection with the landscape, and celebrate what is personally special about the Gower. We focussed on themes of Natural Gower, The Sea and Gower, Living on Gower, and Historical Gower. I am organising, delivering, and supporting this project in collaboration with Gower Landscape Partnership (GLP) which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Resources Wales, City and County of Swansea, and National Trust. You can read more about this unique project by clicking HERE.
We’ve been working over at Communities 1st in Morriston over the last 4 weeks giving people the confidence to better themselves. When you’ve had a little bit of bad luck it can knock your confidence, so Communities 1st helps people to get themselves back on their feet and look forward to a brighter, better future.
As part of their programme we deliver the I am Great camera workshop. Here people from all backgrounds try their hand at seeing the world differently. It doesn’t matter whether someone is artistic or not. It doesn’t matter if they have experience with photography. I am Great starts and finishes with the premise that you are great no matter what you’re going through.
The workshop develops people’s confidence and gives them the tools to see themselves in a more positive light. Previous participants have gone on to have successful job interviews, or have the confidence to try and get a qualification in something they’ve never done before. We put people first and see what they need to make a success of themselves, then we encourage them to go out and get that success. For some it’s a long slog which might take years. Others will find themselves moving onwards and upwards pretty quickly. The important thing is that everyone has the support they need and gains the confidence they need. Seeing the world in a positive light takes time. There is no quick fix to push people into jobs. Pulling yourself forward in a new and innovative way takes patience and support.
This week we gave the class a choice of focusing on what they’ve enjoyed about the I am Great course or the chance to express themselves with the camera in some other way. Honing the skills they have, and using the confidence they’ve gained is vital in this final week. We want our participants to feel that they can stand on their own two feet and go off into the world and put all their positivity into action in their own lives in their own neighbourhoods. Together we’re working in putting communities first.