The Colshaw Art Project

Way back in October, I commented on a project I had recently finished on the Colshaw Farm estate in Wilmslow, Cheshire.  More on this now…

The Colshaw Art Project was a pilot 8 week project initiated by Cheshire East Council and Lime, the arts and health organisation based in Manchester.  Working with three artists, the young people from the estate would create some kind of public art for a long concrete wall in the park or ‘ramps’ as it’s known locally.

Myself, Kim Wiltshire and Richard Dawson started with a basic idea of creating some kind of lettering, possibly 3D, possibly using recycled materials but with the knowledge that we weren’t allowed to do ‘graffiti’.  We ended up working with a group of challenging but enthusiastic young people aging from seven to 16 years, predominantly girls but some older boys too.  They needed a lot of encouragement and support, which led to us really having to structure the workshops and think about behaviour management, health and safety and the logistics of working with 12-15 young people in a restricted space.

We started the workshops with a run through of The Rules (which they had written) and included obvious things such as ‘No Shouting’ and less obvious things such as one group member not being allowed to bite people…

Every week we ensured we had a diversionary activity whereby group members could stop what they were doing and move onto a different activity if they felt a bit restless.  This was facilitated by students doing a community arts course.

We ended up with a fantastic bit of art that was created by young people from the estate from start to finish.  They chose the word ‘Colshaw!’, they designed the letters from the shape to the decoration, they constructed the 3D forms, used drills, painted each letter and helped prepare the wall.  They achieved a huge amount and should be proud of the finished artwork.

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