Monday 6 October 2014

Made in Corby Fun Palace

I'm happy to report that the Stephenson Way Fun Palace was a great success! I knew that it was a tall order to create this event with such a short lead time and a very small materials budget but I was determined that the space should look as interesting as possible. I wasn't sure how many people would come but I had Tweeted, Facebooked and emailed, along with other local volunteers, in the run up to the event. The Fun Palaces website had lots of great, free resources to use but it did take a lot of time to create and keep the page updated. The wonderful Kate Dyer from Corby Community Arts kindly assisted by creating and circulating a flyer, which we also managed to distribute amongst pupils at Rockingham Primary School. 

I was surprised, delighted and slightly flustered as we had our first visitors on the dot of 12 and the visitors continued to arrive throughout the afternoon. It is always a worry, when things are done at high speed, that people will miss the information and the event. This Fun Palace / Big Day In wouldn't have been as successful as it was had I not had good, long standing contacts within the Stephenson Way community, whose support I could muster. This warmth and community spirit is just one of the reasons I love working in Corby as much as I do! 

I was also in the happy position of being able to borrow / provide artefacts that helped to transform an empty hall into a magical space, we utilised everything including the bowls mat! Everyone involved, especially Kate, Kev the Caretaker, Ann Leonard, Susan Shier, Margot Norris gave their time and energy so generously and with great good humour.I was able to add a sculptural element to the Fun Palace by borrowing INTenz a mobile sculpture kit created with my Undiscovered Networks collaborator, artist Jo Dacombe. Intenz was made during our three year exploration of architecture and change in Corby in a project called "Fingerprints on the Pew". Jo also agreed to let me use the perspex flowers we made during our Green Patch Residency Art in The Summerhouse.

We were incredibly lucky to secure Paper Sculptor Phiona Richards for the afternoon. Phiona was kept busy with a constant stream of participants who learnt how to create rings and bracelets from wire, buttons and beads. One local resident came up to me glowing with excitement and enthusiasm saying "This is just so wonderful! To have this happening here in my neighbourhood!" as she proffered her button bracelet for me to admire!

It was great to have Kate Dyer from Corby Community Arts with us for the day, Kate acted as our Court Photographer and I believe that there will be a set of Court Portraits on display on CCA website soon.

Corby Community Arts helped to make the space look more palatial by allowing me to borrow the very splendid Flower Banners created from drawings by children in Corby for the Queen's visit in the Jubilee Year and some of the torches created with Sophie Cullinan during the Winter Light Project. having worked as an artist for CCA on both projects it was wonderful to see the work being shared and enjoyed by the community. 

Many thanks to CCA Work Experience student Elizabeth who gave her time and skills so generously both on the day and during the preparation day the previous Monday.  I provided drawing materials, papers and scissors for people to draw their own Fun Palaces and make their own paper tiaras which added more fun to the day.

There were two excellent poetry taster workshops with Michael Pike 

AKA Spike the Corby Poet who gave participants of all ages the confidence to create starting points, ideas and poems which were read aloud to the very supportive groups.

Big Days In organiser Marie Murrie captured reading her poem!

Young and old had a wonderful time as Alison Gaffney showed people how to raise a cheer out in Stevie Way's the sun soaked autumn garden!

After all the activity and excitement it was wonderful to sit down with tea and cakes made by Stevie Way Art Goup's own Susan Shier and Ann Leonard, proceeds from the refreshments were donated to S.W.A.G. Many thanks to Back To Books for generously providing the funding for the refreshments.

Photo from MiC

As this was a Made in Corby Big Days In event I thought it was important to gather some hopes and dreams from the community for future Made in Corby arts events. Kate and I agreed that we should use bird prints made with local children during a summer project as labels for people to write their thoughts on. There were some intriguing suggestion! 

Photo from MiC

We were also very pleased to welcome Nadine Holdsworth who has done much research about Joan Littlewood and her Fun Palaces and was keen to come explore ours. I'm really happy to report that our Fun Palace didn't disappoint as Nadine and her son, along with many other happy family groups came and played all afternoon!

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