Artists Charlie Kondras and Mr Ben returned to North Yorkshire to complete a mural at Bentham’s skatepark as part of The FOLD, a co-designed programme with young people from the area. Both artists attended Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale and now work in Sheffield as professional artists across a range of disciplines as well as teaching at Sheffield Hallam University. The mural is part of The Fold 2020, a project produced by Deco Publique and commissioned by us. The project was originally designed to enable young people from Bentham, Kendal and Settle to join together to learn new creative skills and creatively empower decision making in their own spaces through the co-curation of a live programme of content.
It began with a series of workshops and meet-ups in the three locations throughout 2019, where young people were invited to come along and share ideas. This developed into a programme of events which had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 crises. However, as one of the first activities to be programmed for young people in the area since lockdown, the mural and its accompanying workshops also became an opportunity for young people to socialise safely again.
Lauren Zawadzki, Director of Deco Publique says “Our culture company is most recognised for creating live participation events and experiences. When the first iteration of The FOLD was cancelled in March, we wanted to ensure that we didn’t lose sight of the aspirations of the young co-designers we worked with and our commitment to the artists who’d secured work as part of the programme. We are so thrilled that we’ve been able to navigate the rules to reimagine new ways of working. We got back in touch with young people who we’d got to know by running meetups in 2019, sometimes in the local chippy to make the project truly accessible, and a weekend of creativity was planned. Young people from the area had previously told us how important the playing fields were to them so we knew this was a great place to start making things happen again.”
As well as the mural, design duo, Jive Prints, hosted flag-making workshops, which will be put up each summer in the park. The workshops were quickly adapted when the ‘rule of six’ was introduced with 12 sessions for groups of six taking place over one weekend, all under cover in a marquee brought into the park.
The response to the mural and flags from people of all ages in the area has been fantastic. It’s never been more important to support young people. Many young people in the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales have been isolated from friends, missed school or college, lost part-time work or have parents who are concerned about their own jobs, so we’re really pleased that Deco Publique and the commissioned artists were able to support young people to organise safe things for them to do and give them ownership of their public spaces.
The FOLD have more exciting plans happening in the area with a functional sculpture being planned for Bentham, an online Zine produced by young Kendal locals, and a series of artist-led creativity packs being delivered to young people in Settle and the surrounding areas.
To find out more about The FOLD, head to their instagram account!
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