As part of their enrichment at Kingsbridge Community College and Sixth Form, a group of students have been taking part in a community-centred project in collaboration with local art gallery Harbour House.
The project is still in its early stages of development, but the workshop group hope to create something that has community at its heart, inspired by the local area and connecting all age groups of local people.
For the project, they have been attending art galleries and film screenings, and brainstorming ideas to let their project take shape.
Amy Dickson, the Director at Harbour House that organised the initiative, said: “We’re creating a project that brings together lots of different age groups and celebrates coming together.”
Harbour House, originally established in 1997 with support from a charitable foundation, The Spanda Trust, aims to enrich the lives of all communities in Kingsbridge and beyond through art and wellbeing programmes.
As the new Director, Amy hopes to expand the charitable work of the Spanda Trust through Harbour House so that the widest possible communities within Kingsbridge benefit from this vital community asset through cultural, creative and wellbeing programmes. She particularly wants to focus on young people, which is where this initiative comes in.
The project is “expansive and collaborative”, with the students creating something that differs from the rigid structure of the school curriculum.
The scheme allows students to use their own voice to bring their ideas into fruition and steer their plans in the direction that interests them.
This new way of working, with creative independence at its heart, means that students have the opportunity to be flexible and innovative, learning in a way that helps prepare them for adult life. With the community aspect of the project, they hope to create ties that connects the school to the local area.
One student explained that a main focus they have is on closing the “inter-generational gap”. He said its a really exciting project as there’s “not much to do for younger people in the area”.
“We’re look at what community looks like,” Amy added, “and how we can activate community through this project and bring generations together, for young people that maybe don’t have a lot to do.”
As part of their project, and to help them decipher the direction of their project, the students took part in a workshop with artist Molly Erin Mccarthy on Wednesday.
Amy said it was great for the students to see “a living, professional artist” as they create the foundations of their project. The visit from Molly saw the students exploring the medium of clay, and recreating local areas that are meaningful to them.
They looked at a map of Kingsbridge and explored “places with particular resonances”, taking inspiration from “urban myth” and are using surrounding areas as a “guide as they move through the project.”
Molly is based in Plymouth, with her artwork exploring ideas of fiction making, table-top role playing, and reimagining or rethinking a certain place. She runs various different types of workshops, working with all age groups, and has been practicing professionally for about two years.
During the workshop, the students looked at what was important to them locally, creating a ‘venturers code of conduct’ that they would give to a fictional character visiting the local area, and examined their shared experiences of living in a rural community. They used the clay symbols to “embody landmarks that are important to them.”
Ellie, a student at KCC said of the project: “its been quite interesting, we discussed whats missing in the community, but were also thinking about what we do have.” She also found it engaging “to look at different types of art work and the different way its been done.”
Another student added: “its given us the opportunity to work practically with different ideas and different mediums.”
This project gives them a chance to be creative, but it also gives them experience in project management and a chance to gain “transferable skills”, explains Amy.
Once the students have decided what their project will be, they will be able to apply for lottery funding as part of the ‘Take Part’ programme, so they’re also looking at building an application for this kind of funding as part of the project.
Gemma Marshall, staff member at KCC, expressed how important it is to “have space for students to express themselves… and contribute that to the community.”