There’s a small oval green space amongst some houses on an estate in Weston-super-Mare that needs some additional love and refurbishments so local residents can get the most out of it. Knightstone Housing Association along with other partners have commissioned an artist to devise some ideas for decorative railings that will add a sense of playfulness to the area, help to re-define its use and improve safety for all. The initial phase was a community consultation process that turned into a very active 2 day event on the green in damp January weather.
Lead artist Steve Joyce worked with dozens of people of all ages from the area to create casts of their hands that may later feature as part of the railing design, and I was invited to document the process and to add a photographic element to the proceedings that would encourage local people to find out what was going on and join in.
Near the vintage tea van and alongside the casting table (not a couch!), I set up a fairly basic but efficient temporary studio under a gazebo on the green and invited residents to photograph each other. Despite the drizzle not much encouragement was needed – one 5 year old couldn’t wait to start, and proved to have a ‘good eye’! Dozens of wonderful portraits were created, small prints were made and hung on a washing line in the outdoor studio, and the following week larger prints of the portraits and of people making the casts were displayed on an excellent mobile picture house and trundled around the estate by its owner Scott Farlow, or rather by the children with his assistance.
The designs for the green and railings are being discussed with residents and partners now before confirmation of funding for the next phase – that may yet have some kind of photographic content…come back for news in a few weeks.