Artforms: Theatre and Visual Art
Funded by: Cumbria Community Foundation
Project Partner: Tullie House
Artists: Amanda Mudge, Katie Lock
Participants: Creative Conversations, Year 10/11 students from Distington School
Date: Mar 2017-Feb 2018
Letters from the Edge was an intergenerational project we ran with support from Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.
Letters from the Edge was an 8-month project which brought our Creative Conversations group of older people and stroke survivors together with young people from Distington Community School in Whitehaven to learn about one another’s childhoods.
The inspiration of the project was Percy Kelly, a West Cumbrian artist who was known for his paintings and stunning illustrated letters. The two groups visited Tullie House to see works by Percy Kelly and learn about his life and work with Chris Wadsworth.
The members of each group then wrote illustrated letters to one another sharing childhood memories.
Exhibition and Performance
The project resulted in an exhibition and performance at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.
The exhibition showcased the illustrated letters the two groups had created. It was open from 23rd Mar until 26th Feb 2018.
One of the members of Creative Conversations had made big red post box which was used to collect the feedback from visitors to the exhibition.
The children had turned childhood stories from the older people and stroke survivors into a series of short plays. These plays were performed in the Percy Kelly Exhibition twice on the opening day to public, VIP’s, friends and family.
“Today was a particularly magical day, as some of the childhood stories were acted out by some of the children, performed in the Percy Kelly gallery! How wonderful was that” – Visitor.
The illustrated letters were also used to create a limited-edition collection of postcards which were on sale in Tullie House during the exhibition. There was also a book produced with information about the project and the letters.
The exhibition open day gave the two groups the chance to come together again to celebrate the project and share the results of their hard work.
“Throughout my sessions working with the children I really saw them all grow in confidence and starting to trust their own decisions. At the start there was a lot of asking for reassurance from myself and a lot of talking over each other, however by the end of the process they were communicating effectively and making decisions together as a group. Whilst working with the children it was lovely to watch how respectful they were of the letters they were receiving.” – Rebecca Hamilton who worked with the students at Distington Community School
Through reading, watching and listening to the stories, participants were able to look beyond their own difficulties and empathise with each other’s lives. Feedback from everyone who took part stressed how transformative the experience was, and how it helped them bond as a group and look at life from new a perspective.
The participants of Creative Conversations felt that the project made them “look out beyond yourself, doing the work for the reason of communicating.”
“I was very much amazed by the children. They came in with all the confidence in the world and showed lots of respect to us older people and people with disabilities.” – member of Creative Conversations
“Meeting the children and working with them on this project has been a breath of fresh air.” – member of Creative Conversations
This project is an example of our overarching approach of encouraging people to focus on what they can do and give them the opportunity to learn and develop their skills. All participants exceeded their own expectations, made new friends of all ages, and gained more confidence in their abilities.
Want to get involved?
If you are interested in working with us on a project like this please get in touch with us, visit our contacts page.
If want more information about joining Creative Conversations please click here.
This project was made possible thanks to funding from Cumbria Community Foundation