The urban jungle is full of hidden gems….I’ve told you before, I’m a big fan of street art and I was lucky enough, to be shown to a gem a couple of weeks ago.
Park Life is a lush art work funded by Big Local Gateshead, created by local children from Gateshead Schools – Corpus Christi, Kelvin Grove and St Aidan’s who worked with artist and Culture Vulture favourite Tommy Anderson and writer Paul Summers.
The large scale art work sited at Charlton Walk Park in Teams, Gateshead. The pieces explore the people, places, stories, history of the area (Teams and Bensham) alongside exploring the regional identity and aspirations of the school children themselves. The pieces pull together a rich tapestry into the rich heritage of Gateshead and insights into the new generation.
The project is infused with Tommy Anderson’s style and practice which really brings it to life. Tommy is an experienced arts facilitator and graphic designer who manages small and large scale community arts projects (like this one) and progressive participatory and educational arts programmes inspired by his practice.
He is passionate about creative opportunities for all and that really came forward, when he recently spoke at my Culture Vulture networking evening in February. Art and engagement with it, is a means of creating dialogue, a forum for self-expression, community sense making, identity ownership, exploratory learning, understanding enhancement and so much more.
Projects like Charlton Walk, give communities a voice and sense of ownership of their space. Tommy, as a professional artist, plays a critical role in enabling these opportunities and voices to be heard and them empowering such groups to actively make something.
Community collectivism alongside individualist artistic effort can be a really beautiful thing and it’s absolutely wonderful that artists like Tommy can put their time, resources, skill set and talent into facilitation of the production of these pieces. It takes the old, we are stronger together than alone, to another level.
“Having lived and worked in Bensham for several years, the Park Life project has been a wonderful opportunity to create a major artwork for the area that has brought people together to celebrate their community.
The duration of the project allowed me to explore a range of art forms with the children, resulting in a rich and detailed interpretation of the area and its people.
Hopefully the project will spark a continued interest in the arts for the children, and a sense of pride in their community.” – Tommy Anderson
In terms of the impact of the project and having the opportunity, to engage with Tommy Anderson and Paul Summers, you only have to read a few quotes from some of the children to realise how important not only projects like this area, but creative learning opportunities for children.
“I am so proud of my art – I didn’t think I could be creative.”
“This is the best thing I’ve done in my entire life – I just love it!”
“It’s so exciting – I want to be an artist”
“Art club is amazing – I look forward to is every week”
So – now the weather is getting brighter and Spring is coming, you must pencil in somewhere to go and view the Charlton Walk and see the pieces. I absolutely loved it – I love the word choices, the colours, the imagery….. it’s a great piece of community Public Art in Gateshead and deserves wayyyyy more recognition. But I guess if everyone knew about it, it wouldn’t be a hidden gem……
So here are a couple of my favourite pieces from the walk…..
That’s all for now Culture Vultures.