Working with my local community is hugely important to me as an artist. Being from a small town, arts education often feels unachievable, or something that is not meant for us. I am keen to work more with the children in my community to change this rhetoric.
In 2019, I was asked by George McDonald of the Corseford Tenants and Residents Association (TARA), to assist in the revamping of the 34ft long underpass which connects Spateston and Corseford. These are areas of the town that I grew up in, and I was delighted to help with such an ambitious project, which would provide a safe passage way between the areas.
The project started in October, and the initial underpass took 3 weeks to complete, with the help of local volunteers, business owners, and the children of Fordbank Primary School. I began by taking ideas from the school children and scaling these up into larger than life interpretations for them to paint.
As the project went underway while I was studying, I would continue where the pupils left off, finishing off painting that needed done and adding details, in the evening, along with a few brave volunteers. The tunnel slowly transformed from a graffiti ridden black hole which attracted anti-social behaviour, to a safe and enchanting walkway.
Due to COVID restrictions, the project fully concluded in 2021. During the summer of that year, we painted the entry way into the underpass, creating an inviting area that the local pupils could see when leaving school, and feel safe entering. This project has been one of the most fulfilling projects I have undertaken, due the huge amount of community involvement and the opportunity to work with the local children.
Johnstone High School
At the beginning of March, I began volunteering in the art department of my old high school. Working with the pupils, ranging from those in S1 who are just developing interests in the art world, to S5 and S6 pupils who are considering pursuing art into higher education, has been extremely valuable to me. I am eager to encourage the students to build on their interest in the arts, and keep them informed of the opportunities available to them.