I was honoured to be asked to come to speak to people at the ‘How many women does it take?’ event put on by Vanessa McDermott, one of the Community Development Officers in our Neighbourhood East team, last week. Women from Breightmet and the surrounding area gathered at St Catherine’s Academy, donned bright yellow t-shirts and, sustained by cups of tea, put the world to rights.
After a brief intro on the ‘power’ of social media’ with discussion of the Arab Spring, Kony 2012 and Malala Yusefzai, some people (if not all!) were, I hope, inspired to be using these channels to campaign and get their voice heard.
As the day went on, and Craig from our Income Management team faced a barrage of objections and complaints around the government’s bedroom tax, it was clear that there were some main themes and that there would be no problem in getting the women to share their opinion.
One of the sessions was working with a writer to write a ‘rant’. I’ve never seen a writing workshop and it was great to see Louise draw out the ideas and get something produced in only 20 minutes. Continue reading
“If These Walls Could Talk…” is an installation that fills a house on Greenroyd Avenue full of the creative writing and reflections of the wonderful women of Breightmet.
The project is collaboration between local women, Bolton at Home’s Neighbourhood Management Team, Bright Meadows and Leverhulme Children’s Centres, Breightmet Library and a number of artists.
Louise Wallwein (poet) has been working with the groups fortnightly since last autumn to develop layers upon layers of creative writing. Other artists involved in transforming this into the installation are: Paul Gent (wall graphics), Jennifer Gilmour (textiles), Mel Harris (sound recording) and Mark Haig (sound installation) and the Breightmet Knit and Natter groups have also been heavily involved in crafting things for the project.
The women’s groups consist of women who come together once a week to chat, have a brew, escape from the children for two hours and experience something creative (and sometimes challenging) every week. The groups are held at Bright Meadows and Leverhulme Children’s Centres and Breightmet Library and are jointly facilitated by Bolton at Home. Crèches have been provided to enable women with childcare responsibilities to participate. Continue reading
In November 2009 we commissioned a photographer called Les Monaghan to capture life in our Breightmet neighbourhood, including its people and the physical environment. The project is called ‘photobreightmet’ and was funded by the ‘Housing Percent for Art’ service.
A special exhibition capturing the physical and social conditions of the Breightmet area of Bolton was showcased at Bolton Museum & Art Gallery from February to April 23. Visitors to the museum were able to view a selection of images produced by photographer Les Monaghan during the six months Breightmet Photographer in Residence project.
The Breightmet Photographer in Residence project, and the ‘photobreightmet’ exhibition, is a prime example of how our ‘Housing Percent for Art’ scheme helps us to engage with communities through the arts.
The exhibition showcased the vibrancy of the communities on our estates. Les’s work has captured the close knit communities, engaging with the Breightmet people to portray family relationships, as well as interpreting the surroundings through his images.
Our Housing Arts Officers work within each of the Neighbourhood Management Teams to develop and deliver arts projects that focus on the Neighbourhood Renewal themes, providing opportunities for Boltonat Home to creatively engage with our customers, and for residents to improve the communities they live in through the use of arts in regeneration.
To preview some of the images which were showcased at the exhibition, visit http://lesmonaghan.blogspot.com.