Above: Harty Ferry, Oare in Swale.
Photo taken by Ideas Test Director, Lucy Medhurst on Wednesday 9th December 2020, 2.33 pm.
“If it were not for hopes, the heart would break”
Looking back over this year has made me aware of all the people and things that we are missing.
This winter, that means reflecting on the light festivals, projects and celebrations Ideas Test would have been involved within Swale and Medway, working with a number of wonderful partner organisations, schools artists and participants.
These are the moments that create shared memories in the community.
The pandemic has highlighted many cracks and inequalities in society falling hardest on the most vulnerable, but it has also inspired acts of compassion, creativity and invention.
The fragility of life and of the things we take for granted have been starkly exposed and for many, it has been a difficult year marked by personal loss, hardship and grief.
What has kept me going personally are friends, family and colleagues, my allotment community, immersing myself in books, Tai Chi (online) and the natural world through walks, cycling and kayaking.
On one bike ride out to Harty Ferry recently I was excited to spot a kingfisher, the Greek name for which is halcyon and on such a calm bright day, I took it to be a sign of hope.
What Ideas Test was able to do was to keep going and to help make small things happen and by taking our activities online.
This led to many a technical glitch, or guest appearances from family pets (mostly cats), at least one complete stranger in a Zoom call, and at times some necessary laughter in the face of tough times and things not quite working as anticipated.
Not everything we wanted to do came to fruition, but due to the support of our funders and two new trusts [Colyer Fergusson and Kent Community Foundation], we were able to support six new Seed Commissions chosen by a community panel and aimed at supporting diverse local artists to make small creative interventions in their communities.
This has led to some inspiring work including…
- G Town Talents giving young people in Medway a voice through local musicians CaGeNation’s track and music promo, It’s Peak. [Read a Q&A with Jimmy from GTown Talents here: Part 1/Part 2]
- Hannah Whittaker’s lovely intergenerational project Drawing on Wisdom.
- The Pride Mural at MGSD Centre in Medway that was created with their LGBTQ+ groups to celebrate the first Medway Pride.
Although there was some sense of frustration at times in trying to get things happening, much greater than that was a feeling of hope and determination to do what we could.
In spite of all of this, Ideas Test became a charity in June and we will become a direct recipient of our Creative People and Places grant in the Spring, thanks to Swale CVS and Arts Council England.
There are always exciting things happening in the world, new opportunities and constant reminders of the resilience, creativity and brilliance of artists and communities.
None of this can happen without working together, without goodwill, collaboration, humour and sheer hard work.
Ideas Test is itself reliant on a great staff team, a wonderful consortium of organisations who help us, our partner organisations, funders and a hugely talented pool of freelance artists plus a new Board of exciting and diverse individuals to help guide us into the future.
We were particularly delighted to be involved in Human Rights Day on 10th December and Fly the Flag – a national celebration.
This year it’s focus was Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”
Neelam’s poem “We Are Masterpieces” is a beautiful piece in praise of resilience and light in darkness.
“Our bodies are festivals of light
and we must keep this hope for change in our chests
in our hopeful bones
and our beautiful dancing hearts
hope hidden at the backs of our knees
and hope in our clenched fists
giving us a reason to hold on.
These rights are ours
so let’s illuminate
let’s keep lending our shoulders, voices and our working hands
and let us always
always have hope.”
Thanks to the support of Medway Council and the Chatham Town Centre forum, we are working with artist Xtina Lamb from Intra Arts to create lanterns from waste materials to adorn The Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham for our Hopes & Dreams project.
We are inviting groups, families and individuals to make lanterns for display and we have a small number of maker kits to go out to those who are shielding or isolated over the next few weeks.
These collective points of light will carry us through to Burns Night in January and Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day in February.
We have ambitious plans for next year and are looking forward to working with our communities in an extraordinary 2021.
Please get in touch if you would like to get involved with Ideas Test as a supporter, donor, volunteer or interested member of the community in Medway and Swale by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy Medhurst – Director