This week I’ve been travelling around the north of the county, getting to know parts of Royal Wootton Basset, Chippenham and the villages in between.
Although the project is about reaching out to older people who may be feeling isolated due to Covid and associated lockdowns, it is also about them showing me around their own local area. I bring art materials, art books, techniques and conversation, and they share a little of their lives and interests in return.
Sometimes that means sitting on a front doorstep and reaching out to pick leaves and explore textures, sharing the stories behind a plant – where it was bought, who gave it to them, what memories it sparks – whilst with other participants it involves a walk from their house through the streets, to parks and patches of green that I never would have known were there. As we walk we talk about what used to be there before, the origins of street names, or rhymes and poems that link to plants and the seasons.
‘Ash before Oak you’re in for a soak, Oak before Ash you’re in for a splash’
The sketchbooks we make in sessions, often continue to be worked into on the days that I’m not there too, providing a way for the noticing and recording to ripple out into the rest of the participants’ lives, and to share with friends and family.
‘I made my own ink pad using kitchen roll and a margarine tub lid… it gives me something to do in the early hours’
I also visited a Reconnections coffee morning recently in Calne, sharing the Noticing Nature video and downloadable resource pack that I put together, to reach people who might like to get involved at home or send us photographs of their artwork to share online.
Next month I’ll be moving down and across to the Trowbridge area, making more connections with individual participants and their gardens or parks, and some small groups too, now that the lockdown restrictions are easing.