Sharing Shorelines is an arts project based at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington; a small independent museum located in a modest, coastal market town at the most Southerly point of the New Forest, Hampshire and the UK.
Our aim is to find new ways to engage local people with a unique collection of artwork on display in the gallery between September 2015 and January 2016, through art looking, art making and poetry.
Shorelines: The Exhibition
At the centre of this project is the museum’s major exhibition, Shorelines – Artists of the South Coast. Building on it’s reputation for bringing together some of the biggest names in British Art, the museum has spent the last two years developing Shorelines. Sitting at the centre of a coastal landscape that has inspired some of the greatest artists of our time, this endeavour was steered by a belief held by the team behind the exhibition, that St Barbe Museum was perfectly situated to bring together this ambitious collection of artwork.
Shorelines explores how artists from the 18th Century to the present day, have drawn inspiration from the cliffs, harbours and beaches of the Channel coast, tracing the changing portrayal of the South Coast over the last 300 years.. Showcasing works by some of the most important names in British art over the last few centuries including Constable, Turner and Ravilious, it also reveals paintings by lesser known but equally intriguing artists.
As an island nation Britain has literally been defined by its coast, its identity bound up with a seafaring heritage and maritime history. The south coast has often been a first line of defence against the threat off invasion, but has also been a gateway for trade and a popular destination for those seeking fun, sun and sea air.
Sharing Shorelines with People
Sharing Shorelines is the participatory element of the project. The exhibition is designed to appeal to a broad range of audiences from across the New Forest, the South Coast and tourists to the area, and is accompanied by a lively participation programme including children’s and family workshops, adult talks and drop in events.
In order to deepen engagement for a few of our key target audiences we have identified a range of activities aimed at increasing access to the exhibition for people living with dementia, schools and adult learners.
Poet in Residence
To help us achieve this we have commissioned a resident poet to create targeted learning and engagement opportunities aimed at local residents within Lymington, Pennington and surrounding villages. The writer involved in the project is Southampton based poet, Chris Bennett, who will work closely with the museum’s Community Engagement team to develop workshops and activities to support people to create their own written responses to the artwork, as well as creating new work.
This collection of work will be brought together with some of the participants pieces to form an anthology celebrating and exploring people’s relationship with the coastal environment and responses to the artwork in the exhibition. New work created by participants and the poet will also be displayed in the exhibition alongside paintings encouraging local people to come back and share with others. They will also be shared outside the gallery, on panels which will be displayed within the town and within venues in other coastal areas to create links back to Shorelines. This will be supported by a social media campaign #shorelines
Engaging People living with Dementia
A key strand of Sharing Shorelines is a programme of activities aimed at engaging people living at home with early / mid stage dementia and their carers, and people living in dementia care homes. We will create opportunities for people to experience great art together where all can be relaxed and engaged through facilitated visits and conversations.
This strand of the project will be delivered in partnership with Colten Care, who are sponsoring the project, with support from the Alzehimers Society.
We will develop a programme of activity which will give people with different stages of dementia opportunities to visit the exhibition and engage with the artwork through art looking activities and conversations led by a trained team of staff and volunteers.
This will also create opportunities for the resident poet to participate, observe and record these conversations, which will inform and inspire the development of new work. The purpose of this process is to encourage and support people to tell their own stories, state their opinions, express their feelings and respond to the artwork and artefacts, and will involve the poet letting the participant talk and allowing them the time to be listened to. The poet will then ask permission to write down or record particularly interesting or poetic elements of the conversation and form the words into poems. Evidence shows through comparable projects that involvement in this activity can help participants develop their creativity, particularly through language.
Alongside this in-depth project, we will also run a series of bookable gallery conversations within Shorelines for people with early stage dementia and memory loss. These conversations are relaxed, informal and most importantly enjoyable. They are led by trained gallery interpretors who support participants to describe and share what they see, talk about how they understand it and make connections.
The project will run through to end of February 2016 and the purpose of this blog is to document and share its story. We hope you will follow it and be inspired to visit the exhibition. If you have any questions or want to find out how you can get involved please complete the below form.
Laura Bullivant, Project Coordinator