Your Place artist Kate McCoy on neighbourhoods, Pritt Sticks & shared landmarks
Your Place is a partnership project run by the Brighton Festival, Brighton People's Theatre and two resident led, community development projects on either side of the city: Due East and the Hangleton and Knoll Project. With a steering group of local people from both communities over the last year to co-programme and co-design Your Place for the 2018 Brighton Festival, this year's programme is full of brilliant shows and workshops.
Your Place 2018 Artist in Residence Kate McCoy has been leading a series of workshops known as Random Acts of Neighbourliness, which encourages participants to share experiences of their own neighbourhoods to create a ‘visual map’ of the area and to come up with creative ideas to get to know their neighbours and bring the community together. Kate tells us more about her exciting new role, and the ideas and artwork produced from her workshops.
I have a white square of fabric, thirty random objects and curiosity about how people feel about their neighbourhoods. I want to scratch the surface of the day to day and encourage people to think metaphorically and creatively about their experiences as being part of a community. The results of this activity will be an exhibition in each community created by the artist Luan Taylor as part of The Your Place weekends, which are a collaboration between the communities of Hangleton and Knoll and East Brighton, Brighton People’s Theatre and Brighton Festival.
I have been setting up in community centres, lunch clubs and youth drops in, asking people to sit down with me and create a visual map of their neighbourhood using objects to represent themselves, their neighbours and the landmarks and features that surround them. So, a Pritt stick has been a lamp post where young people hang out on the Knoll Estate, a bus stop in Whitehawk that can be seen from a living room window, and someone who works with the community, sticking people together.
Lots of people start by saying, “its too hard, I don’t know what to do!”, but once they get going, they express fascinating insights about how they see their world. The final part of the conversation has been about asking people to decide on a “random act of neighbourliness” something that could happen to bring the community closer together. The results have included; cleaning up dog poo and tidying up the bins, and a young man wanting a campfire outside his house. There has been the desire for coffee and cake mornings to bring people together, and to get rid of double yellow lines so that the children of elderly residents can visit more easily.
People have been so welcoming in both communities, open and even more creative than they thought they were and have made beautiful images and said thought provoking things that I hope you will come and see.
Being Your Place's artist in residence is my ideal job, I get to meet loads of different people in a range of settings and find out more about them creatively, connecting through laughter and conversation. I am also delighted that my company, small performance adventures, working in partnership with cascade creative recovery, are bringing our brand new performance The Washing Up, to both Your Place weekends. It’s been described as "bonkers and brilliant" and is a space where we explore this everyday activity through songs and scenes centred round our sink on wheels. (Marigolds not provided)’