Creativity Still Plays an Important Role During COVID Lockdown

Findhorn Bay Arts’ Creative Work Shop artist residency programme has continued during the COVID lockdown.

Following support awarded from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund last year, local artist, Caroline Inckle, was our first artist-in-residency. Starting in February, her residency included exploring creativity and town centre regeneration. Before restrictions were imposed, Caroline hosted three participatory creative activities on Forres High Street in printmaking, creating zine stories, and photography. 37 public participants ranging from 6 years to over 60 attended, sharing their stories and experiences of the High Street whilst creating their own piece of art.

Inspired by the public engagement and restricted by the COVID Lockdown, Caroline moved to a home working studio to complete her residency, sketching, analysing old maps, and taking the opportunity on her daily exercise to walk in Forres and appreciate the architecture and natural environment in different ways.

Caroline said: “Working on the Creative Workshop residency was a great experience.  Although I had to work from home in the final stages of the project, there was plenty of time to enjoy working on Forres High Street in the early stages. I loved having the chance to hear about peoples stories and experiences of living and working in Forres and to explore together creatively what the high street means to them.”

A participant from a work shop said: I took part in the print making workshop with Caroline and never before have I have noticed so much detail in some of the architecture on the High Street as it was highlighted so strongly in ink. It was also a nice opportunity to share stories and memories from when I was younger in Forres, such an important thing to do in keeping the spirit of place alive.”

In changing circumstances, the nature of Caroline’s residency also had to change. A public drop-in space and exhibition couldn’t be realised, nor could a Culture Café with other local artists and the creative sector.  The outputs of the residency and Culture Café were still able to take place digitally with an e-book and visual report being published online via the Findhorn Bay Arts’ website and Caroline hosting a virtual Culture Café via a group video call attended by 15 local creative practitioners. A colourful display of Caroline’s work is also decorating our shop front window for passersby on Forres High Street to enjoy.

Caroline continued: Many people working in the creative sector are self-employed and have had to work together on creative solutions to keep generating income and providing creative activities to support the community at a difficult time. It was great to have some space during the residency to acknowledge these challenges and share experiences with other artists.”

Kresanna Aigner, Creative Director/CEO Findhorn Bay Arts said: “These are unforeseen, uncertain and troubling times and like others, here at Findhorn Bay Arts, we have had to adapt our programmes and working situation due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  We are delighted that creativity can still flourish remotely and digitally and it has been very rewarding engaging with Caroline and seeing her residency work respond to place and the need for stories and connection.”

She added: “In the coming weeks, Findhorn Bay Arts will have a direct role in our town centre regeneration through a new collaborative venture with The Bakehouse.  We will trial opening a pop-up shop promoting and selling local organic fresh produce and bread.  Our next artist-in-resident, David Sherry, will engage with our pop-up shop and local people bringing a sprinkle of colour, creativity and a sense of place to our High Street.”

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