LivingArts is a new project which re-imagines care homes as arts centres, through an eight-week residence in Aspen Court Care Home working with musicians. Each week we will be hearing from someone working on the project. This week our Programme Manager for Learning & Participation Chloe Shrimpton tells us more about this new venture…
On entering Aspen Court for our final workshop I was struck by how at home I felt. Having visited Aspen Court dozens of times in the run up to and during this project, entering the building and greeting the residents and the staff feels warm and familiar. I enjoy my walk from the reception to the activities room – saying hello to the human landmarks who mark the journey – Oliver walking slowly along the corridor chatting with the staff, Derek sat in his regal green chair watching the world go by.
There is something very special about the fact that what once felt extraordinary and alien (Julian playing his oboe, Clare dancing on the floor and Lucy tip-tapping on her typewriter) now feels beautifully normal. I have found it fascinating to observe what stays constant and what changes week by week. Each workshop we have been guided by Oliver’s steady, rhythmic percussion playing, we have been tickled by Freda’s wit and we have been entertained by Paul’s harmonica playing. These constants have been interspersed with numerous moments of total surprise! I will forever remember the first time Mary sang to us, the total silence that fell when Clare read poetry to us and the playfulness and commitment with which Derek told the story of Robina the Hunter.
There is a quote by the writer Maya Angelou that feels very relevant to LivingArts “You can’t use up creativity, the more you use it, the more you have”. It has been such a privilege to witness the creative work that the residents and staff of Aspen Court and the LivingArts team have created. Henri Matisse said “creativity takes courage”. Throughout this project we have witnessed limitless creativity and also boundless courage. But more than that, we have had great fun! My lasting memory of LivingArts will be how much we have laughed. Every session has been full to the brim of laughter. We have giggled, roared, chuckled, cackled and chortled. Because, although creativity takes courage and expressing oneself can be scary, it is also the most freeing, liberating and joyful thing you can do.
I have tried and failed to find a witty, insightful quote to round off this blog! So… in the spirit of LivingArts I will say something creative and courageous.
Everybody is creative – to me, being creative means being experimental, being open and doing things in a new way. Being creative doesn’t always have to be about “making” something. We are at our most powerful when we think creatively, listen creatively and give creatively. Creativity offers us the chance to be our fullest selves and share who we are with others.
As we prepare for the project culmination on the 6th April I am excited that we (the residents, staff and LivingArts team) can share who we are and what we have created together.
Follow the blog for regular updates from members of the team as we move towards our festival day on Wednesday 6 April. For more information about the LivingArts project visit our website.
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.