‘Opening Up’ was part of the communal experience for summer 2021, and the Lewisham Arthouse outreach workshops once again provided the opportunity for local children and families to make art by looking, drawing, building, sculpting and lots more. We are so grateful our artists get to provide these arts and crafts events that bring the joy of art making to our South East London community.
Making Works are a series of hands on practical arts workshops for children and young people living on three local estates – Leybridge estate, Royal Road and Newstead. The workshops are part of the Lewisham Arthouse’s Education and Outreach Programme. The workshops focus on the use of recycled materials in constructive ways, develop children’s confidence in using power tools, problem solving skills and creative thinking, as well as their ability to work in a team in a fun and engaging way, using art to reclaim the green spaces with an interactive family activity.
The Making Works workshops started at Leybridge Estate in Lee back in July 2014, and have run about 10 weekly sessions each year, pretty much until the pandemic started. Since its inception, the workshop has been led by the highly experienced Artist Educator Laura X Carlé, along with support from other artists from the Lewisham Arthouse, and was led by another highly capable artist from the Arthouse, Ruth Beale, during Laura’s maternity leave.
For 2021, the project run 4 long sessions across the three estates. These included an arts and crafts summer events using the theme ‘Opening Up’ . The children were able to collaborate in creating an ever-growing art installation, with each child using paint or collage on a white cardboard box. The boxes were then attached together and piled up into an evolving puzzle. Later the children were able to take their own creations home, with some using it as decorated storage or as a diorama.
Following ‘Opening Up’, the next workshop theme was “We Are Here!”, the children created a silhouette or drawing of themselves using paint, markers or collage on a large piece of cardboard. The figures were attached to the fence of the houses, secured with bamboo sticks or leaning on walls. After finishing the silhouettes there was a time for reflection, before the figures were arranged in different theatrical positions. This event also ended with the children getting to take their own creations home.
Over the years these events have really benefited the families and children. They have been very enthusiastic about taking part, the parents like that the children can be outside engaged in an activity visible to all and one which involves clearly working together. It’s been really fantastic to see the green spaces used positively by empowering the residents to take control of their community environment, reclaiming outside areas for fun family activities. The workshops show art promotes a sense of belonging, fostering empowerment though having influence over spaces – suggesting the possibility of further improving the environment, fighting against helplessness and increasing community wellbeing. The children like that they get to take home their wonderful creations, and gain art skills through the process!
For the Lewisham Art House artists these workshops give the chance to help the wider community in South East London. The workshops help reflect upon the lived experiences by underrepresented groups, using art to encourage and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
The Lewisham Arthouse artists have been so pleased that the Making Works workshops went through the process of “Opening Up’ in 2021, so we can continue to support our community and spread the joy that art can bring.