Primary Art Form: Visual art – painting, drawing, animation, print.
Professional Training & Experience: Btec National Dip Foundation in Art and design, BA Fine Art, BA (JT hons) Management Studies and Spanish.
Years of Experience in Primary Art Form: 18 years
Celia’s Facebook Page
Approach to the work/professional ethos
My professional ethos echoes that of our organisation New Arts North, which adheres to an ethic that centres around sensitive community engagement. That is to say, we build projects, courses, creative opportunities and events around the needs, aspirations and interests of the communities we work with.
In our projects, participants are fully able to ‘own’ the work, having been engaged right from the outset. We are sensitive to the fact that we are invited into various communities, institutions and settings, all with their own traditions and cultures which we endeavour to respect. This underpins the type of relationship we embark on with partners – one of longevity, consistency, honesty, and commitment.
Our main aim is to work specifically with participants to create original music and art, with an emphasis on personal and group creativity and skills development, together with creative community development. We aim to boost creativity and its social and therapeutic uses, in the community in general. We aim to build confidence, self-esteem, recovery from mental illness and aid people in their journey back into community life, be it re-entering employment, training, family life or taking on a new role of responsibility.
2013 – Ongoing – co-developing Prism Arts’ West Coast Studio Theatre Project for young people and emerging artists with learning disabilities. Co-devising and touring new pieces of theatre with young people with learning disabilities in West Cumbria.
2016 Dreaming of Home – 6-month collaboration with Joshua Sofaer and ANDfestival – interactive project entitled ‘Dreaming of Home’, exploring the interpretative, performative, therapeutic and aesthetic aspects of participation. With exhibition at Rheged, Penrith, shortlisted for Cumbrian Artist of the Year.
2015-16 Curate a Space -10 month collaboration with Lakeland Arts, an exploration, involving local members of the community, of memories and museum artifacts from the Windermere Steamboat Museum of Windermere rituals and traditions, culminating in the curation of exhibition for the new Jetty museum.
2015 Anselm Kiefer – Artist Rooms Tate Collection touring to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery. Part of artists talks programme (Meaning and materials), workshops (Painted Tales), and education programme across 6 secondary schools.
2014 Talking Tales – A collaboration with Theatre by the Lake and its Friends association. Intergenerational project, collecting memories of 50 years of the theatre’s history. Stories were transcribed into a series of graphic novel style posters, charting the participant’s experiences.
Project Example 1: Amazing Art
Through Copeland Borough Council’s Pathways scheme, New Arts North began to offer regular art and design workshops with Amaze (Cumbria’s NHS Early Intervention into Pychosis Service) team and their service-users, all of whom are aged 18-30. The sessions included drawing, painting, printing, machine embroidery, collage, photography; and for the last year and a half, the groups have been exploring film and animation.
Further funding from the Northern Rock Foundation and the European Social Fund has allowed the Amazing Art project to expand. The multimedia workshops are continuing in Whitehaven and a new group started up in Carlisle in March 2010.
Through involvement in the workshops the participants have been exposed to a range of different disciplines and the work produced has been of such high quality that they have secured several commissions.
The first commission was received from Copeland Borough Council and required the design and manufacture of flags for a Youth Olympics-themed float in the Whitehaven Carnival which went on to win first prize in its category. The payment received went towards buying equipment for the Amazing Art group’s film projects. The second commission involved designing and producing two murals for the Carleton Clinic in Carlisle.
“Each individual project evolves organically, touching on various aspects of contemporary arts practice, carefully incorporating each participant’s particular strength, bringing out aptitudes they may not have realised they possessed.”
“The activities build confidence and encourage social and creative participation. Participants begin to see how they fit into a group to achieve a common goal, and thus what role they might fulfil in the wider community, through training, volunteering, teaching, supporting a family or employment.” (Celia Burbush)
The Whitehaven group has recently completed a second fantasy adventure film ‘The Gamazin King’, which again involved story creation, puppet and set design and creation, soundtrack composition; and animation filming and editing techniques.
Project Example 2: Cleator Moor Lantern Parade
A whole community residency working with 300 participants over 3 weeks including mental health groups, disability groups, Brownie guide groups, schools, family and community centres, culminating in a celebratory event with music, lanterns, lantern sculptures and pyrotechnic display.
Quotations from individuals &/or Organisations
The amazing art project has seen many benefits to its participants including; increasing their confidence to get out and about and speak to new people. It has assisted with building social networks for service users who are often socially isolated. We have seen participants take on new challenges each week as well as learn new skills. The participants have reflected that it has helped them to feel confident to try new things as well as giving them something meaningful and enjoyable to do during their week, but most importantly as one service user put it “it helps with keeping you feeling good in yourself and happy”.
Caroline Garbutt (Early Intervention Practitioner) Amaze (Cumbria’s Early Intervention into Psychosis Service),
One participant, (who, due to a high level of medication, spends most of his week at home, resting most of the time) said that the project had help build up his confidence. It had helped with his anxiety. He said he was “in a bad way at the start, but now feels much better”. This participant has now taken on IT responsibilities for the group.
Dear artists, I am writing to tell you how much fun I had last week. The day I enjoyed most was Monday because we could make our own world. (It was fantastic!). I loved the arts because I liked the little heads and masks because they were cool. Are you coming back to work with us again? From Hannah Upperby Primary School, age 8.« Back