Local schools and communities will be invited to help create a portrait of St Helens Borough as part of an exciting digital arts project.
Funded through Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, and commissioned by St Helens Cultural Education Partnership, the project – entitled ‘Here’- will use new technology to build a digital portrait ahead of a virtual exhibition held at key locations across the borough in September 2021.
Using St Helens Community Archive as a starting point, participants will consider the history, geography, social make-up and diversity of the borough through dance, drama, print-making, photography, creative technology, sound and visual art. The project will help build relationships and inspire children, young people and family members to explore the arts and perhaps consider a future career in the creative industries.
With many of the workshops taking place in schools, St Helens Cultural Education Partnership – which works with education settings to build on the borough’s impressive arts offer – hopes to see 600 students complete the Arts Award Discover, a national qualification which supports young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts.
Following the school workshops, participants will be invited to attend Saturday workshop sessions at a local library, which will bring together families from several schools along with additional participants and delivering practitioners will combine their expertise to help attendees create a final virtual exhibition using augmented reality which will remain on permanent virtual display as a legacy of the project.
Chris Squire from Impossible Arts, which has been commissioned to lead the project, said:
“As we all begin to find a new normal, I’m really excited to start working on the ‘Here’ project which will encapsulate St Helens Borough’s history, life and promise.
The project is a creative process which will develop as it unfolds, so as yet we don’t know exactly what all the elements will be. But from the track record of the locally based artists involved, it could include anything from shadow puppetry to soundscapes – or clog dancing to light graffiti using drones; some amazing work, so watch this space.”
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Libraries, Arts and Heritage, Councillor Anthony Burns, said:
“Here’ is a fascinating concept and the use of new technology will help us to reach new audiences and inspire our children, young people and their families to explore the wider benefits of engaging with cultural activity.
“St Helens is a borough built on heritage, and while it’s important to look forward, we must ensure our incredible past is part of an exciting future, as we look to build on all our strengths. Arts and culture is an immense strength of ours and projects like this will help ensure future generations understand what a proud and extraordinary place our borough really is.”
‘Here’ is an 18-month project, and all work will be brought together for a final outdoor virtual exhibition scheduled to take place in summer 2021.