Words & Photos by Caroline Finn
Creativity is a great way to share stories and ideas.
And over the next two years Clydesider is offering free creative storytelling sessions to local community groups.
This spring we teamed up with 13 participants from Neighbourhood Networks in Dumbarton and Clydebank.
Together we explored the positive impacts growing your own food and spending time in nature have, both on the environment and mental health.
Neighbourhood Networks support vulnerable adults to gain independence both in their own homes and in the community.
We began the project by visiting the group’s community garden in Melfort Park, Drumry where we gathered natural materials to work with.
The group were up for a challenge and had lots of fun painting portraits of each other using sticks as paintbrushes and mud for paint.
Jordan said: “I wasn’t sure about it because I didn’t want to get dirty from the mud, but I liked using the sticks, that was good.”
Audrey Duff, the Clydebank networks Community Living Worker, said: “It shows even without arts and crafts materials, you can just use what’s around you.
“Everybody got a wee portrait made by each other, it was great.”
Then we used painting and printmaking techniques to create individual fruit trees.
They were printed with leaves we picked in the community garden and, using carved rubber stamps, we covered our trees with fruit.
Jordan enjoyed painting with sticks so much he went outside and sourced some more to make his tree more realistic!
The following session we made cyanotype prints using a UV light box.
We looked at the unique shapes and transparency of different plants and leaves.
Designing tote bags allowed the group to make their own creative choices using the techniques they’d learned so each member had a unique bag.
Steven explained: “We’re going to use our bags for harvesting the fruit and veg we grow at the garden.”
Lynne added: “This is great getting to do creative stuff, I love all this.”
For their final piece the group worked together to plan and create a canvas mural.
They had lots of ideas about what should be included in the painting.
Lynne said: “We should draw butterflies and bees.”
Ronnie suggested: “I could do some tulips; they would look nice with all the trees.”
John asked: “What about the shed?”
Working from a blueprint they created the previous week, the group started work on their painting.
Ronnie said: “I’m drawing all of us, this is going to look great.”
He then proceeded to draw every member of the group including Stephanie’s dog!
Stephen suggested a pond and then carefully painted one full of ducks.
For John, his favourite part was seeing his friend Raymond’s confidence grow.
He said: “I like seeing how on the first day Raymond didn’t want to join in and look at him today.”
Audrey agreed. “When we first started, he was a wee bit shy. Now he’s got his sleeves up, paint pot in hand working away.
“It’s built confidence in Raymond he never had when he first came in.”
The group worked hard over the six weeks completing a variety of artwork.
Audrey added: “We learned lots of new things.
“It’s not just about getting a paintbrush and painting, we learned new ways to paint and create art no matter where we are or what we’ve got to hand.
“It’s all that confidence it’s building, by trying new things.”
Peter gave the project the thumbs up: “I’ve enjoyed just coming here and being with people and doing new things.
“I liked painting the shed.”
The group is now looking forward to showing off their mural which will hang proudly in the Neighbourhood Network main office.
These workshops are funded by the National Lottery Community fund so we can offer them free to community groups in West Dunbartonshire.
We are excited about upcoming projects with Alzheimer Scotland, Duck Duck Dragon and The Big Disability Knit & Natter.
If you know a group who might be interested in their own creative storytelling or community media workshop next year, please email email@example.com
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