Tag Archive: community art

IMG_7950Most of us, I suspect, do not think of ourselves necessarily as “community artists”. We work in our communities, yes, but we pursue our artistic endeavours and objectives in a somewhat separate sphere. We paint, we sculpt, we draw; we put things on show in local art galleries, take part in local art shows and post stuff online; we go to local art meetings and go with friends to exhibitions; we may offer paid-for workshops, or run courses – but too few of us go much further outside that well-defined circuit of professional practice.

This is a real shame. Artists and other creatively-minded people are an important and valuable resource for the wider community. Many of us say we are “too busy”, or “not experienced enough” to do “community art”. Yet, over the past few years, I have discovered that it takes very little either time or experience for professional artists make a huge difference to the creative life of a small community.

The Hillfort Creativity Group – which includes a number of long-term members of Inside Out – has recently started doing creative activity sessions at Oswestry Library. We spend three hours once a month at the Library, making and creating with kids and their parents – gluing, painting, drawing, colouring-in. The kids absolutely love it – as do the parents. For some of the kids, this is the first time they have ever done anything like this before – and you can see it sparking their imaginations and opening up a whole new world of possibilities for them.

All of us leading these activities are professional, practicing artists, exactly the sort of artists who usually say they are “too busy” or “not experienced enough” to do this kind of community art work. But you know what? It turns out we’re not too busy, and we are experienced enough. We all – every one of us who paints, draws, photographs or sculpts – have what it takes: every professional and practicing fine and applied artist has the creativity required to help out with sessions like these.

In a time when arts provision is rapidly vanishing from schools and from the landscape of childhood, the failure of professional artists to support community art by not getting involved is very close to being the final nail in the coffin of creativity in this country. As artists, as creatively-minded people, we have a responsibility to ensure that “art” and “creativity” are supported and valued in our communities at the most basic, grass-roots level. In fact, it’s more serious than that: if we don’t, then it’s clear no one else will.

I realise now that if I’m being an artist and not also giving back to the community, then I’m being selfish: I’m part of the problem, not part of the solution. This is why I’m now actively helping out with these Oswestry Library sessions, and it’s why I’m trying to convince as many other artists I know to do the same. So you’ve never done anything like this before? Don’t worry about it: it’s not difficult, the kids are lovely, and you’ll have an immensely rewarding time.

Lots of things are in danger of going extinct these days – let’s not sit back and let creativity be one of them.

You can volunteer at the Hillfort Creativity Group “Creative Saturdays” at Oswestry Library just by dropping-in and helping out. Check out the HCG Facebook page for dates and times, or contact us here via a comment.

Dzintra has been busy at Oswestry Library this month with her butterfly project – and, following on from discussions about the BioBlitz at our last meeting, she has included Old Oswestry Hillfort as a recommended butterfly spotting location!

Next time you’re in the Library, check out her display:



Butterflies and Moths

Hand drawn and hand painted by Dzintra Bernsaida

Through my displays in the library, I like to encourage people to go outside and explore nature.  This time it’s butterflies!

Do you see how colourful they are and how just watching them can cheer you up?  Maybe some of them are in your garden, local park or even our very own Old Oswestry Hillfort.

Just sit quietly and wait to see what will happen. Maybe one of the butterflies will land near you and you can see all their beautiful colours and patterns.  If you can spot some of the butterflies I’ve shown here and say the name to your family and friends you will sound like a cool nature expert!

Dzintra Bernsaida is a Community Artist, a member of the Oswestry Makes team, a member of the Hillfort Creativity group and a good friend to Oswestry library. 

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