Inspired by our London Waterway Partnership’s strategic aim to devise and deliver arts projects which connect with young people – we’ve been collaborating with Core Arts, Hackney.
Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing through creative learning, Core Arts provides learning, training and employment initiatives that help people who experience mental health issues to overcome barriers, fulfil their potential and take part fully in their community.
This project was about encouraging young people aged 16 to 24 to explore how the local canal (Lee Navigation) could promote wellbeing, by researching the themes of:
Core Arts began the project’s workshops at in September 2016 with three design sessions that looked at the concepts of a mural.
The young people came up with their own ideas and themes for what the mural would look like. This included brainstorming ideas for the message of the mural and what landmarks would appear in the final design. They were also encouraged to go ‘out and about’, taking photos for inspiration and getting to know their local stretch of canal.
With a design created from these sessions, painting the mural happened in whole day long workshops, twice a week over three months. Around eight young people took part each time at the Core Arts centre in Hackney Wick - just a 10 minutes stroll away from Lee Bridge Weir and the Lee Navigation.
Young people with different levels of experience and painting styles all got involved, for example, using cut out and torn sponges to create a leaf effect, and stencils for floral decoration. Reaching 60 young people, the mural took 156 hours of painting.
Paul Monks, Core Arts Director, said: “It was a great opportunity not only for our younger members to collaborate on an exciting creative project where they could share and develop their creative practice but it was also a chance for them to discover or rediscover the benefits of engaging with our local waterways.”
More experienced members were given free reign (under the direction and encouragement of the project manager), and the sky, birds and water effects were produced in this way. The important thing emphasised to the young people was that there is no ‘right’ way to paint - everyone brings their own unique style to their work. It’s why the mural looks the way it does; the ‘’many hands/many styles’ is highlighted rather than attempted to be covered up in a ‘seamless’ piece of art.
“I knew the work Core Arts offered with its clients and referrals from GPs and local hospitals, but I didn’t know what to expect here.” Said Jeannette Brooks, our London development & engagement manager. “In fact, the young people have designed and painted a wonderful and inspiring mural encapsulating the special uniqueness of the waterway in such a busy city. I’m bowled over by the mural’s quality and have to say that now its installed in the Old Ford Lock and Stables welcome station, it just looks wonderful.”
The success of the project is certainly reflected in the comments from some of those who took part:
“I took a mate with me and we went walking by the canal to take some pictures... It was great to see how they got the image into the design and watching the painting come along from week to week”
“I never painted before but I’ve just done a whole tree! I feel really proud.”
“Taking part in the mural really got me off my feet - I went down the canal after for the first time in ages.”
“Painting makes me focus in a way nothing else can. When I’m done I feel so calm - it’s a real blessing for my mental health.“
The mural went on to be installed at the Old Ford Stables Welcome station on the Lee Navigion next to the Old Ford Lock with help from our own volunteers. Opened during the Carpenter's Road Lock festival in the summer 2017, the Welcome station wall is now a full length version of the mural. Why not pop in a take a look for yourself?
Last date edited: 9 January 2018