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Bringing great art to your doorstep

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 26.06.2017

Time: 13:43

A dose of soothing trees to make the path a little brighter.” (Keely Mills)

If you haven’t yet come across us, Peterborough Presents is an Arts-Council funded Creative People and Places programme with a mission to bring great art to your doorstep. Over the last three years, we have delivered an experimental and entertaining spectrum of great art. From the pop-up beats and symphonies of the Music Takeover, to the chilled creativity of De-Stress Fest to the downright weird and epic Diwali vs The Zombie Walk. 

This year, we have been inviting people to join us on a series of walks. Not any old walk, of course. We’ve done poetry walks, memory walks, smell walks, Easter Egg hunts and coming up we have a photography walk and a storytelling walk. So why the sudden interest in nature and the outdoors?

The reason: is home. Instead of city centre projects, we have taken our work out to three areas of Peterborough: North Bretton, Millfield and Hampton. In each area, a local community panel worked with the Peterborough Presents team to commission a project to take place in their community. A sense of pride in the place they call home was a big factor in their decision-making and each of the projects seeks to make that place a more attractive and stimulating environment to live. What better way to do that than through the arts?

It’s likely you will have come across Katy Hawkins and her Bretton Greens project over the last few months. Katy has been working tirelessly with the North Bretton community to encourage residents to respond to hidden, forgotten and worn-out places through themed walks.  Colour, birds and play have emerged as significant elements to be resurrected by the community and so formed the basis for three creative workshops under the expert guidance of David & Gareth from Nene Park Trust, architect George Lovesmith and artist Isabella Martin. By the end of the sessions, participants had contributed their ideas and designs for creative interventions for Bretton. We’re looking forward to casting our vote for the best garden, bird box and play space at the Bretton Community Festival on 8th July. 

Over in Millfield, Paper Rhino has been busy collecting stories, memories and heroes to turn into a striking mural on the Lincoln Road. Again, the community were looking for new ways to make a difference to their environment and to feel proud of where they live. Take a walk down Lincoln Road later in the year and see what you think.

And finally, what is under that “tump” in Hampton? Tom Fox and Eastern Angles Theatre are determined to find out! Whether it’s through the camera lens or a story at the water’s edge, residents are invited to take a fresh walk down a familiar path to uncover a Folk Tale for Hampton. (shhh..the giant will rise from the tump on 16 September).

It was great to read about Karen’s experience of working with artists on the Green Festival and its Planet B initiative.  I think our artists are equally excited to be helping residents reframe their home environments as places to nurture, to care for and be proud of.

For more information on the projects, please see: Bretton Greens and Hampton Folk Tales.

Fiona Brice is the Programme Manager for Peterborough Presents.



Finding time to ‘go wild’ with kids

Category: General

Date: 15.06.2017

Time: 11:56

As you might expect from a PECT employee, I am fully on-board with the Wildlife Trust’s ‘30 Days Wild' challenge that encourages us to get out into nature every day. I am entirely convinced that my environmental roots were grown and nurtured by a childhood spent largely outdoors, first in the USA and then in the UK- camping, hiking, skiing, sailing, cycling and of course a lot of playing in back gardens and parks. As a parent myself now, I am keen to pass on this love of nature to my own children.

It was somewhat easier to make time for nature when the children were smaller and I was a full-time parent. Although I needed to be well-prepared, and had to learn to adjust my standard ‘efficient’ brisk pace to a much slower toddler’s pace, we whiled away many hours exploring local woods and parks, walking slowly, examining snails and insects, building pretend fires, climbing under and over branches, sitting on logs snacking and stretching our creative muscles in imaginary worlds and making ephemeral art.

These days we work around jobs and school, hobbies and housework and most days it is not possible to take such a relaxed approach to exploring our natural world. These days ‘going wild’ is more likely to be a snatched moment here and there, saving a dehydrated bee found on the school run, planting and watering seeds or checking to see if the tadpoles in our pond have sprouted legs yet.

I find the ‘30 Days Wild’ challenge a good reminder to look out for more of those moments and also to try and find time for some bigger adventures when you can. During the week, this might mean going a slightly longer route home from school so that we can stop at a park or go through the woods.

When we go via the woods we often go foraging. I have been on a few foraging training courses, including one put on by the Nene Park Trust, and I think it’s a fantastic way to engage kids with nature. It appeals to their primal instincts to gather their own little addition to dinner and is a very tangible demonstration of the value of nature. We’ve managed to forage elderflowers, wild garlic and wild rose petals this month, some of which gets eaten raw, and we add anything that makes it home to dinners and baking – wild rose chocolate muffins were a huge hit.

Weekends present opportunities for longer adventures. My current aspiration is to have a micro-adventure and take the kids wild camping, but I haven’t yet been brave enough to try on my own and my husband thinks it’s a terrible idea! Sometimes plans need to be scaled back rather than given up on entirely.

Last weekend we managed a 10-mile bike ride on the Green Wheel over to the Millennium Bridge (commissioned by PECT in 2000). Our 5 year old impressed us by doing the entire route on her own bike and without complaining! I find frequent and longer stops (I took a book to read to them during one stop) and plenty of snacks helpful when attempting longer routes with children.

For the rest of our ‘30 Days Wild’ challenge I will be aiming to learn some traditional woodland skills at the brilliant Heritage Festival in town this weekend, lay on the grass and look at the clouds, make a natural dream-catcher using willow, spend lots of time in my garden, make a mud kitchen and visit Ferry Meadows. The two natural playgrounds are always popular with children, along with the open den-building area behind Badger Park.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for your own ‘30 Days Wild’ challenge and there are plenty more ideas here: http://www.mywildlife.org.uk/30dayswild/.

Clare Watters is a Project Support Officer at Business Energy Efficiency Cambridge and Peterborough.



Art and the Environment

Category: General

Date: 14.06.2017

Time: 12:37

I am not an artist or an expert on art. I am, however, an expert on me and I know what I like, what I don’t and what affects me emotionally when I’m presented with a piece of work to view! I like sculpture, I particularly like Constantin Brâncusi and Jacob Epstein, my favourite piece is an Epstein busk of Einstein housed at the Fitzwilliam Museum. For me, this piece of work feels alive, I can see the glint in his eye and it’s the closest I can come to a feeling of knowing the subject.

I’ve been lucky enough in my role at PECT to be able to work with some fantastic artists over the last few years, from those involved in our Faith in the Environment  project, where people from the city’s faith groups made reflective art that was displayed in the community gallery at Peterborough Museum, to the fantastic work produced as part of our Arts Council England funding for the Green Festival.

My experience of working with the Green Festival artists has been very positive. The artists are all a joy to have around and I personally have found it interesting and stimulating to think about environmental issues in a creative way. The artists have broadened my concepts of art. It has been interesting to learn about each of the artists and their practices and to experience how each approached their work differently and applied their passion to the themes of the festival. 

In my role as Communities Team Manager at PECT this experience has lead me to thinking about different, more creative ways of working with my team, and to encourage them to work more creatively with those they engage with across other projects. I have also been able to work with the wider creative community in Peterborough, with organisations such as Metal, Peterborough Presents and Eastern Angles amongst others, which is fostering a cross pollination of the arts and the environment throughout the city.

For me the link between art and the environment is becoming intrinsic in helping us talk about and express how we feel about the issues we face because of the challenges of climate change. It can light the way to an understanding of these issues and to think about the changes we can make to make a difference without scaring ourselves into inaction.

Art and creativity offer a perfect format for engagement with the environment in a non threatening way, which allows us to work out for ourselves the actions we can take as individuals, and how we can encourage our families and communities to live more sustainably.  

For more information about this year's Green Festival initiative Planet B and the artist activities, see www.pect.org.uk/PlanetB.

Karen Igho is the Communities Team Manager at PECT.