Community Light Project
During the autumn of 2022 I was involved in a community arts project with local primary schools. We used milk cartons to create a light wreath installation. The wreaths were displayed in town centres at tree lighting festivals and then I created my own installation with all 85 wreaths. I found the soft light surrounded by what was essentially rubbish created such a powerful experience when walking amongst the creation.
The North-East metro system celebrated 40 years in 2020, however, due to covid the celebrations were postponed until 2022. I was selected by The Cultural Spring as the lead artist for a community participation project to produce artwork to celebrate the anniversary. The project asked participants to recall their memories of using the metro system and create a small collaged tile from recycled cardboard and magazines to represent it. These were then collated together to create giant tile mosaics which are displayed in several metro stations.
Memories were collected from individuals at drop in workshops and community groups local to the stations. It was fascinating to hear such humorous and such moving stories. Local school children also participated to produce these colourful collages.
Amazingly Lumiere 2021 went ahead and offered us all a reminder of normality! I was thrilled to be asked to deliver community workshops throughout County Durham using recycled plastic to create huge flowers as part of Plastica Botanica!
I have had the privilege of being commissioned by WWF as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the threat to British Food Standards. It was great fun to design three scarecrows which were made by a professional prop maker and appeared around Bishop Auckland in Autumn 2020. Click here to see the promotional video.
I was also asked to design a tea towel celebrating local food traders in Bishop Auckland. The finished product was presented to Bishop Auckland’s MP: Dehenna Davison
alterNativity Exhibition 2019-20
This was a huge community art programme in Bishop Auckland which combined the Christmas story with a celebration of the Zurbaran paintings in the newly opened Bishop Auckland Castle. The final display: alterNativity was opened by the Bishop of Durham on Christmas Eve where all 24 characters created by groups in the community were displayed in the chapel. A report is available on BishopFM and the Northern Echo.
Prior to alterNativity the 24 life-sized models were opened in a different shop window around Bishop Auckland town each day of advent. On Christmas Eve the models formed a parade through the town carried by many of the community groups who had worked on the characters. The project received local TV, press and social media coverage. These are a selection of the window displays.
“I would like to send out a massive congratulations out to you and the team in the tremendous success of Advent Windows and alter-Nativity. It was just fantastic to see the children and community being hands on and connecting with art, creativity and heritage”. – Lucie Ann Hall, Community Development Assistant. The Auckland Project.
Making the models:
I was absolutely delighted to be asked to work for Artichoke as one of their community artists for Lumiere 2019. The project, Bottle Festoon, used recycled plastic bottles to make chandeliers to light up walkways throughout Durham city. In total 275 chandeliers were created from 14,780 plastic bottles with 1294 participants!
A large amount of my time is spent delivering workshops in the community to both adult and family groups. I have a wide range of activities which are suitable for those wanting to ‘escape’ for a couple of hours to those wanting to learn new skills. The social dimensions of these activities I find very rewarding.
The Big Draw 2018
I have had the fantastic opportunity to work alongside The Auckland Project on this year’s Big Draw participatory art activity. Visitors to the newly opened Auckland Tower in Bishop Auckland were asked to put themselves in the picture by creating a thumb print character on a giant jigsaw puzzle depicting the views from the tower. Over 750 visitors took part and they will be able to revisit their art work in Auckland Castle education rooms.
Participatory Art Project with Dean Bank Primary School.
Children worked as a class to produce a proggy mat wall hanging to mark the centenary of the end of WW1. The art work was displayed at a WW1 Festival of Food within the community. I also delivered a ‘come and try’ workshop for visitors attending the event.
Illustration Masterclass for We Are Weardale 2017
Feedback from schools: “The session was fantastic, the kids were buzzing about it when they got back and we already have a couple of follow up sessions organised for art lessons etc. Laura was really good with the kids and I liked how she had them doing practical skills which they can take away and use. She has also given us some ideas for lessons such as using loom bands to create artwork!” Deb Cross: Deputy Headteacher Stanhope Barrington C of E Primary School
“It was inspirational and wonderful to see children from the older to the very young working together to create objects out of shapes, and then stories from mystery bags!” Liz Judges; Deputy Head, Wearhead Primary School
County Durham Summer School Games 2016
Primary schools from across the county were asked to design a poster using Brazilian Street Art as inspiration (in the lead up to Rio 2016). The winning school; Blackhall Primary spent the day transferring their design onto a large canvas which they took back to display in their school.
All images © copyright Laura Brenchley 2023.