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News

The Jigsaw Horse

2014 WALK- Mayfest research and development for License to Play

We are delighted to report that we have been awarded a grant from Wandsworth Arts Department to scope and develop the story walk for 2014. We are looking to work with 2 new stroytellers from Wandsworth, or train 2 storytellers to run some of the walk with us. We are also looking for community groups to work with us to design and co- deliver the walk. please contact Belinda through this web site.

2013 Summary Report: Community Inclusion    /data/dynamic/spaw/documents/Guardian News JH 13.pdf

http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/wandsworthnews/10410527.Hundreds_join_in_interactive_story_walk_through_Furzedown_to_Tooting_/ 

Drop- in pre- walk artist- led workshops at Sprout Gallery (the weekend workshops were funded by a family learning grant and the rest by Wandsworth Arets Department, Local Sponsorship, voluntary effors and in kind donations.


• Saturday 27th April 1-3pm family learning using arts to understand Happiness and ideas of ways to improve your own. Story telling and lots of making
• Sunday 28th April 10- 12 and 2-4pm Making objects and props for the walk

• Wednesday 1st May 3:30- 5; 30 masks and costumes for the walk

• Thursday 2nd and
• Friday 3rd putting it all together- masks, costumes, large props and objects, planning the performance of the walk and how you can join in
• Saturday 4th May- exhibition


The event began on the 27th April with drop-in family workshops over the weekend, funded by Wandsworth Family Learning, for families to start making the props for the walk. These went exceedingly well. Not only did they begin to engage families with the content of the story and the underlying concepts of wellbeing and resilience, but started to get people in the community excited about and wanting to join in the walk itself.

Feedback from one mother about her daughter who asked:

‘ Mummy how many sleeps until the Jigsaw Horse walk ?’

The weekend workshops had 3 different objectives:
1. Address the theme of happiness and resilience through making art directly associated with happiness constructs
2. It was a good way to generate pre- event (walk) marketing and encourage people to attend it
3. Community prop/ costume making for the walk itself

The happiness and resilience theme was addressed through the story- which contains themes of perseverance, change and transience. Additional wellbeing constructs such as connecting, community building, engagement, positive emotions, meaning, living in the present, were covered through creative participation. These were reflected in the activities available at the weekend workshops. The objects that people could make, were designed so they could be placed in the horse piñata (one of the main props for the walk) , which would be smashed at the finale- thus sharing the personal happiness messages throughout the community.

Activities included:
• slate and rice to make momentary pictures whilst listening to the story
• creating butterflies and cocoons
• Cardboard puppets
• Paper birds with messages of happiness tied to their feet
• Paper scrolls with happiness messages
• Paper people with messages about how ‘the people in my life make me happy’
• Hobby horses for children to have to mimic the horse piñata
• Costumes and masks for people to wear on the walk
• Writing act of kindness messages

The Week 
Through the week the main input of the workshops was to create the large props from the story, a vase, a horse and costumes. Particpatory workshops were held for people to make the props with the artists in resident.

An artist was employed to create the cramped space full of ‘rubbish’ in which the main character worked, to set the scene for the first part of the walk that the audience could experience:
to transform Sprout into a space that contained the main elements of the story before it was told on the walk.

An Exhibition
An exhibition was available to the public for one afternoon (Saturday- pre walk)and on the Sunday just before the walk- to set the scene. This included all artifacts made for the walk and piñata objects:
• A giant paper mosaic vase
• Life size horse piñata
• Costumes/ masks
• Artifacts about happiness

The Walk

Sunday 5th may 12:45 + viewing the transformation of Sprout into the first part of the story with 1pm story walk start

A professional storyteller led an interactive, participatory story- walk- performance. From a ‘transformed’ Sprout Community Gallery in SW16, walkers wove their way streets and park, whilst listening to a story being recounted along the way, which made reference to local places. Audience encountered characters, scenes and pop up experiences from the story that brought its messages to life. It culminated in a shared picnic meal, the final installment and smashing a central character piñata.

The story is based around a main character that is skilled in jigsaw making and uses these skills to transform her life in astounding ways. It’s a story about resilience: developing and using talents, transformation, and dealing with positive/negative experiences. Well-being strategies and activities were threaded through the experience implicitly and explicitly to raise awareness of how personal resilience can be built through the perspective of artistic practice; its influences on life experience and tacit learning. Rooted in ‘transformation’ the project sought to use recycled materials.

Sprout Community Gallery was ‘transformed’ into an installation inspired by the first ‘scene’ in the story- a kitchen filled with old broken thrown away detritus. On route there were be 6 stop points at which more of the story was told, with placed arts artifacts, sculptures and performing artists, with 3 main sites of visual art, sound, music, dance and activities for participants to engage with relevant to and bringing the story and wellbeing learning to life- so that the story became embodied in the experience of the walk.

1) In the streets people picked up made objects and put them into the props vase
2) In the woods there were be rogues and vagabonds (volunteer actors/ children) music and dance (negative emotions)
2) Next to the track on the commin a man on stilts and a penny farthing performance (positive emotions) n
3} Final space- dance, music ,the horse piñata smashed recleaing and sharing stories of happiness and kindess (Hope, optimism, happiness).

4) community Pic Nic

There were ‘surreptitious’ relevant interventions along the route that poped- up and surprised the walkers, echoing life’s ability to surprise us with positives/ negatives. With some of these ‘surreptitious interventions creating a sense in the participants of wondering what is part of the art process and what isn’t.

Description

The walk itself was wonderful. The story served as a frame in which people included themselves in whatever way they choose. At times some people may have missed bits of the story and they were told not to worry about that but just to ask someone else so in fact it wasn’t only the storyteller telling the story but the participants were too. In this way the concept of connecting was embedded as people had to speak to each other and make new connections.

Pop Up Encounters
• Members of the community came forward enthusiastically to provide pop-up art encounters:
• a teenager in rags singing about a thrift shop and handing out clothes for people to wear;
• teenagers dressed as hippies singing in the grass,
• people on penny farthing bikes
• a man dressed in a red hunting jacket pulling leaves from a daisy.

The idea was to create an event in which participants weren’t sure what was story and what was real. Making art from life and life from art.

This trust of local people coming forward and wanting to contribute shows the  warmth with which Sprout and the people working within it are regarded.

Although the story served as a frame what happened in the walk was up to the participants and the performers.e.g.
• The stilt walker wanted to go into the woods because he wanted to go places people wouldn’t expect him to go.
• The musicians really wanted to get the participants to do a dance in the woods. I thought it would be too complicated and there were too many people on the day to make it work but I let go of the control and the result was a magical dance with about 40 children in the woods


The story walk was a wonderful improvisation that included everyone that participated and everyone that saw it. In this respect it was better than we could have imagined.

We have been asked by participants if we would do it again. One of the contributors said;

‘You have created something magical and I think it will grow from here’

It was a wonderful event made by everyone and that was the beauty of it. That is why people want to be involved again.

Community Pic nic
The Walk culminated in a picnic and had the feeling of a small festival. When we booked the day we hadn’t realized it was a bank holiday and were worried about that but it turned out to be a brilliant day to have it. A holiday, perhaps a holy day, in whatever sense one interprets that.

Feedback

‘Delightful- a very joyous afternoon spent making and connecting’

‘Very pleased to have workshops in my area. The kids very much enjoyed getting stuck in’

‘Lovely and interactive and inclusive’

‘Ideal for families with young children - more workshops like this please’

Here are a few examples for the day of the walk :

‘ Great community event. Kids loved it. Thank you’

Great project- perfect for the family. Sprout Arts is a fantastic community asset, which we will continue to support. Well done’

‘great day- lots of hard work obviously, paid off’

‘A beautiful walk through my local surroundings. I loved the story- something to capture the imagination of children and for adults to escape into and from our ‘usual world’. Thank you, thank you I loved it’

‘ My daughter and I really enjoyed, very different and really fun. Nice way to meet people too.’

‘An amazing creative, magical experience very interactive and was extremely enjoyed by the whole family’

Examples of artists feedback :

Julie Norburn

‘I would love to be involved again. I liked the flexibility of the story and open to interpretation with community adding their bits/opinions. I loved the concept. Its a stunning setting, there is good energy at Sprout, its an inspiring place. It was all very well organized and clear, thanks to Belinda and Alison.

Jeni Walker

‘In my sessions people from the local area dropped by and made part of the Pinata Horse. They could choose from making a piece of the jigsaw horse with a message or a drawing inspired by the themes of the story or making a plait for the tail and mane.

My expectations of what the children might be inspired to do on the pieces were excelled on several occasions. The mane and tail worked out almost exactly as planned and I was very pleased. Next time I would involve more meaning into the community working together on the plating of the tail and mane too.

‘Making part of a collective art work gives the sense of ownership and belonging, this artwork was made by us, just for us.

And the communication channel is the writing down or drawing of what you have been inspired to write or draw and other people reading it makes a connection between lots of people who would not normally meet and in one incident I sat and drew with a lady who was 79 years old, I would never have done this if it wernt for holding the workshops (and she hadn't done any drawing since loosing an eye to diabetes.

I enjoyed being part of developing community arts in tooting and also people seeing me working on the horse, talking to me about it.’

Soraia Waterhouse

‘It was very good, it met all my expectations, I enjoyed every second. We had a vast range of recycled material which the children and parents could choose and make their masks and outfits. The majority made only the masks, but some made costumes as well. A girl decided to make a volcano costume because she was afraid of volcanoes. Parents and children mentioned that they really enjoyed it. They thanked me and wanted to know the next time we are having another activity like that.

I think they were very creative and had loads of fun!
The story telling and performing and making the things is amazing. It is like bringing a story and experiences into life. The more we do, the better we get.
I would love to continue to facilitate workshops for people both young and old.
Make installations. I loved meeting people, sharing ideas and learning new things’
 

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