"Kindness is the clang of pots and pans on a Thursday evening - an unrelenting wish of love."
During the pandemic I was involved with Gateshead Council's 'Lockdown Lives' project which saw ten artists pair up with local residents and make collaborative work together remotely. More recently, Karolynne Hart and the arts team at the council decided to do a second iteration of the project, which focused on looking back to that time and reflecting on it, and asked me to be involved again which I was very excited about!
I was matched with two organisations / groups - one small group of care experienced young people in Lobley Hill, and Gateshead Youth Council, a group who are elected annually to serve as the voice of young people in Gateshead. The output produced from each was very different, but both contributed to an exhibition that took place at St. Mary's Heritage Centre throughout June and July.
Audio Piece: Looked After in Lockdown
With the care experienced young people, we decided to make a short audio piece that weaved together their stories and memories of lockdown with ambient city sounds and effects like dogs barking, clapping for the NHS, kids playing in the garden and lots more. The group came up with their own interview questions for each other and I recorded their answers. These answers were then re-recorded verbatim by Gateshead Young Inspectors to protect the anonymity of the children in care. The group also chose all of the sound effects to reflect the real things they could hear when we were all stuck inside.
You can listen to the piece below:
Gateshead Youth Council installation
Gateshead Youth Council started with the very same initial brief, but went about things very differently! We ended up with so many ideas that we decided to recreate a teenager's desk, Tracey Emin style, complete with a laptop, roll of toilet roll, revision books, headphones and Gateshead Youth Council branded water bottle. On this desk we left a folder of their original writing that visitors could flick through, as well as a QR code to their 'Songs to Keep You Sane' playlist.
Finally, above the desk hung a copy of their collaborative poem about Kindness - a reminder of the good happening in their families, streets and communities when things globally were so difficult and uncertain.
You can read the full poem below:
This was a really fantastic project to be a part of and the two groups I worked with were so enthusiastic and brought loads of ideas to the table! A big thank you to Karolynne Hart, Elizabeth Kane, Valerie Ender, and everyone behind the scenes who made this project a success.