Last term, a group of theatre students collaborated with the Neuro-Drop-In Centre, a charity designed to provide people who have neurological conditions with a relaxing environment, and classes…”a place for people to meet, relax and get support from other people”, as part of their creative enterprise course. Interviewing two of these students, Izzy and Jess, this reporter asked about what work they did with the centre, and their motivations.
“They weren’t predominantly ‘known’ in Lancaster, so we wanted to create an arts event involving students to raise awareness, and get more people connected in the Lancaster neuro-community.” As part of their project, they contacted the founder, Sharron Jackson, working to reach out to Lancaster students and raise awareness of the charity by running workshops. With support from the Dukes Theatre, they ran a series, involving the creation and exhibition of works of art that “isolate the senses’, such as clay and painting workshops, the latter involving using nothing but the sense of touch to recreate a bowl of fruit in a painting. For such workshops, they had the clout of Ian Price, a visiting artist from London and Paula Kolar, a second-year Fine Art Student to help curate and assist with the workshops.
A running theme for these workshops was ‘trees’, creating exhibitions such as a sculpted tree, where people were invited to hang tags describing what art meant to them. Another was a painting where people were encouraged to form the leaves of a tree using finger-painting, an idea to encourage collaboration, and literal ‘growth’ of a painting.
Following these workshops, the plan is to exhibit the artwork sometime towards the end of this month, into May, in the public library in Lancaster. The exhibition will also promote the Neuro Drop-In Centre, and encourage visitors and students alike to sign up and volunteer at the centre in town. Speaking to the theatre students, they described it as “an opportunity to connect with the local community and get students more involved.” Furthermore, they themselves were greatly impacted by the charitable work.
“I would personally like to go back to the Neuro, and help out next term. Being part of the project has allowed us to get a connection with the community. Now that we’ve connected and spoken to people and made friends with them, it has that friendly atmosphere and I hope this is something that could carry on in the future, and [become a] future event that could be passed on in the North-west, where the Neuro community and students get to collaborate, and together gain more exposure to their local community.”