SYM – Newport
About the Newport project
“Over the course of this supported project, through the exploration of nature, being outside and creativity I have watched our group of young people grow in so many ways. The process has been organic; creatively their own unique styles have emerged alongside their characters and a huge growth in confidence has occurred week by week. The group have not only succeeded in creating their intended arts trail but have also forged bonds with each other which go beyond our weekly session. It has been an absolute pleasure facilitating this growth but also watching it naturally unfold.”Laura Hathaway, the artist for the Newport project
Newport Youth Panel was created by arts for wellbeing charity Independent Arts, specifically for the Supporting Young Minds project.
The young people identified neglected and unwelcoming spaces in the town – such as empty shop windows, alleyways and the bus station – and appointed artist Laura Hathaway to help them transform them with an art trail.
It took several weeks to the gain the necessary permissions to transform various shop windows and walls and while the panel were waiting for these permissions come through, they worked with Laura exploring natural forms found in Newport town centre. They went for walks, collected natural objects and used them as the basis for drawing, mark-making and cyanotypes. They then use this work to develop the stencils and motifs they wanted to use on site, in their place based artwork.
One of the great successes of this project has been the support of the local community. The first business owner to come forward was architect Sarah Chatwin who offered the group the windows in the four storey Wadham’s building overlooking St James’ Square Newport. They transformed it with glorious monochrome posca pen decoration inspired by the natural forms they found. They have done the same in the shop window owned by Stainless Games on Newport High Street and have created a striking painted mural at the Southern Vectis bus station.
Although the work of the Newport panel is much more conventional in terms of public art, it has still been surprising. The sheer number of hours (72 and counting!) and the quality of the work is much more than was expected.
Working with a few young people over a long period is very powerful – in terms of confidence-building, reducing social isolation/building friendships and developing and embedding creative skills which some hope to take on into future careers. For some of the young people the experience has been transformative. Young people who wouldn’t make eye contact when they started the programme, were talking to strangers while they painted their murals by the end – and the young people themselves report and much closer connection to Newport and their community.
“They are really enjoying the project. It is particularly wonderful as she had to be taken out of mainstream schooling last year due to extreme social anxiety issues and is now part of an online school. She talks a lot about how much she enjoys the project and has even managed to attend a few times by herself without her sister. (This was an amazing achievement for her!)”Parent of participant.
“It’s wonderful to be involved in this project that’s transformed how I view Newport.”Rosie Smith, Newport Youth Panel
Supporting Young Minds on the Isle of Wight is part of a larger region-wide programme supporting young people’s mental health through creativity. Managed on the Isle of Wight by Independent Arts on behalf of The Island Collection and the Isle of Wight CEP, it is part of Artwork’s Supporting Young Minds investment programme.