Lockdown artwork on display in Hemel Hempstead shopping centre
The art exhibition will be on display in The Marlowes
Local partners get together to display artwork created by the community during lockdown, as part of Herts Year of Culture 2020 (HYOC2020).
Dacorum Borough Council, The Marlowes Shopping Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Anna’s Funky Art and Three Rivers District Council are hosting a cross-district exhibition in Dacorum.
The exhibition is a celebration of art created during the lockdown period, to showcase and promote art and creativity as a positive way to wellbeing.
It will be on display in The Marlowes shopping centre throughout August.
The exhibition is the idea of Hemel Hempstead artist, curator and Mindfulness Coach, Anna Schofield from Anna’s Funky Art, who currently runs wellbeing arts projects and workshops in Dacorum, Three Rivers and across Hertfordshire.
During the lockdown period Anna has been successfully running Zoom workshops from her home in Dacorum and arts on prescription courses online for Three Rivers Council, adapting quickly to new technology to support the mental wellbeing of people in the area through the arts.
She has also been delivering classes to the BBO Strive group from the South Hill Centre in Hemel Hempstead.
Anna said: “I hope that the exhibition will not only showcase the wonderful work everyone has been doing during lockdown but also promote and celebrate the vital part creativity has played during the pandemic and how it can contribute and support mental health and wellbeing at times like this."
The Lockdown Art Exhibition will display artwork from the BBO Strive group, the ‘Be Creative’ arts on prescription group from Three Rivers, a Lockdown Isolation Blanket created by the ASCEND group in South Oxhey, as well as positive messages and drawings created by pupils from Hammond Academy Primary School in Hemel Hempstead.
One BBO Strive participant said “I’ve always liked art but I’ve never used watercolour before. It’s really nice and I’ve found it relaxing.
"It’s taken a lot of stress away, even for a few hours. The art class is a nice focus on a Friday!
"It’s been a good way to connect with other people during lockdown and I’ve built up some Zoom friendships. You’re not just doing art, you’re chatting away.”
Councillor Julie Banks, portfolio holder for Community and Regulatory Services, said “I am delighted to support this exhibition as Member Champion for HYOC2020 in Dacorum.
"This exhibition shows that art plays an important part in times of need and how creativity can support wellbeing.
"I hope that local residents and visitors to Dacorum who see the artwork will also take something positive away from it or feel inspired to get creative.”
The artwork will be displayed in the windows of the shop unit until the end of August. To find out more about HYOC2020 and local arts and cultural activities visit: www.dacorum.gov.uk/HYOC2020.
One of the pieces featured is the ASCEND Isolation Blanket, ASCEND wanted to run a community art project to bring people together, to record what lock-down has meant to them and to get creative.
With funding from the Herts Valley Clinic Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire County Council and support from Mixed Media artist Sian Fenwick and Cultural Artist Ekky Archibong, the ASCEND Isolation Blanket Project was born.
Forty two community learners who had been on ASCEND creative courses in Jewellery, Art for Wellbeing and Mixed Media Art in 2019/20, were invited to create a personal response to self-isolation.
They did this through a mixed media of painting and stitching a square of cloth to create individual pieces of artwork that described how self-isolation made them feel.
These were then stitched on an original vintage Witney blanket.
Tutor Sian Fenwick said: “Under lockdown regulations, I prepared kits, delivered and posted out instructions and participants were encouraged to add their own items to personalise the piece which could be pictorial or text.
"They were given 4 weeks to complete their work, one kit even travelled to Valencia and back!
"I supported and discussed progress through tutoring techniques on driveways and doorsteps. A social media group was set up so the participants could chat and support each other.
"I gathered all the beautiful pieces and stitched each one to the blanket, each with their own unique stitch to match each artwork.
"This was very emotional, as I had the opportunity to look at everyone’s work in detail. We had fantastic feedback.
"The participants said that they will never forget the time when they were in isolation lockdown but came together as a team to share their experiences.
"They did not feel on their own, they picked each other up and kept each other going, all experiencing highs and lows at different times.
"On our isolation journey we created these wonderful unique and personal artworks.
"There is not a more fitting social comment documenting this unprecedented times than our self-isolation blanket.”
Margaret Archibong, collated a visual presentation of the creative journey using videos, audio and photographs to tell the blanket’s story.
She said: “I used the videos, images and audio materials generated from the project to produce the final project film.
"It has been very emotional and thought provoking and it is clear that this project has really helped people to network, talk and share during a difficult time.
"It was great to see everyone’s work come together on the blanket.”
A video about the blanket can be seen here.