Neighbours become friends thanks to arts project
An arts programme connecting neighbours in a town centre high-rise building has been described as a ‘heart-opener’.
‘Home in Your Heart’ is a programme delivered by Sync Projects in partnership with Wigan Council in a bid to connect local people with each other, improve confidence and encourage social inclusion through arts and culture.
Fourteen people previously disengaged from their communities, living with mobility issues or widowed came forward to transform their lives and now, some of the work developed as part of the project is on display at the Museum of Wigan Life – a big milestone for all of those involved.
Ivor Hagar is one of the residents involved. He said: “I was afraid beforehand. I didn’t tend to leave my flat or do anything outside of my usual routine. I’ve had negative experiences with friends in the past but I was pushed to get involved and I’m really grateful because it’s been a real heart-opener. It’s a real community spirit.”
Since January 2019, the group has worked with acclaimed artist, Mark Storor, travelling the region visiting exhibitions and museums, sometimes for the first time.
In line with the council’s commitment to making the arts accessible to all, the collaboration with Mark has helped to forge connections between residents and has provided them with the confidence they needed to share their back-stories.
With help from photographer, Stephen King, residents became subjects of their own expressive photographs and wrote accompanying poems capturing a memory important to each of them.
The series, called ‘Recipes for Life’, is now on display at the town centre’s museum.
Heather Shepherd took part in the project. She said: “It’s really daunting to have my work on display for everyone to see because it is so personal to me and my background but I think it’s an important step to take.
We have been to visit so many cultural venues over the last year learning about what they do, so I’m excited to share what I’ve been working on with them.”
The residents involved in the exhibition have now become ‘Culture Champions’ and will now try to engage even more of their neighbours with new opportunities and apply for funding to help with ongoing projects.
Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities, whose portfolio includes culture said: “When we launched our cultural manifesto, The Fire Within, in 2019, a key aim was to inspire local people who wouldn’t ordinarily engage with the arts.
“Home in Your Heart is a perfect example of how culture is a key driver in social inclusion. Hearing how these fourteen residents have changed their perspective on different issues and their peers is really refreshing.
“They originally showcased their work at a closed exhibition last year as a way to build their confidence and feel comfortable showcasing on a public scale. I’m really proud of them and happy to hear they’re now in a position to share their amazing progress with the rest of the borough.”
To view the work, visit the Museum of Wigan Life Thursday – Saturday between 10am and 4pm.
Posted on Wednesday 16th September 2020