A celebration event for the Best of Us project, which has been running in Newington for the past two years, was held on 23 January 2017. The project, led by People United in partnership with Newington Big Local, discovered and revealed the stories of kindness and generosity of the people of Newington through many different types of art activities.
At the beginning of the evening guests were taken on a torch-lit tour of three community art boards created by young people in Newington with the help of artist Sam Giles. With the support of People United, Young Creative Champions from Newington successfully applied to ART31 for funding to create art boards with the aim of signposting people to local community green spaces. The Copse, Welcome Land (also known as Bob Land), and the Secret Garden are all pieces of land which, at some point in the past, have been derelict or unused. The spaces have all been transformed by local volunteers who work together to make welcoming areas for the community.
The young Creative Champions wanted to brighten up the areas as well as to encourage more people to be aware of them. At the celebration event, Creative Champions and members of Newington Big Local led guests with lanterns to see the artwork and learn about the project.
When everyone was back at the Community Centre, there were short speeches by participants such as young Creative Champion, Chanese (16), who told the audience about the activities and events she had taken part in during the project such as printmaking and gallery visits. Chanese was also presented with her bronze Arts Award and said:
“I have worked towards achieving my Arts Award Bronze qualification. I was really pleased with myself when I found out that I had passed. I even told my teachers at school. I am now going on to do my Silver Arts Award. I am really excited about it!”
Tina Corri, Chief Executive of People United took the opportunity to thank all those who had been involved in the Best of Us, including the participants, artists, People United staff and Newington Big Local. She said the whole project had been amazing and hoped that there would be long lasting legacies after People United steps back, such as the continuation of Best Fest.
And, as with all People United events there was an art activity. Artist-in-residence Nova Marshall led the group in an arts activity that aimed at making fellow guests feel happy. Participants made their own paper fortune cookies which they filled with kind words, kindness challenges or a joke. These were then given to someone else at the event to open and reveal the message.
Where can I see the art boards?
Newington sign at Welcome Land/Bob Land.
Find it at the corner of Manston Road and Princess Margaret Avenue.
The Copse sign at The Copse.
Find it on Melbourne Avenue, next to Newington Community Primary Academy.
The Secret Garden sign.
Find it later this year in Newington’s secret garden between Conyngham Close and Dorset Close.