Park Barn Centre

Sometimes I get a tingling in my fingers and that's when I know I want to make something. I get that feeling when I see everything Mary Watts made. These workshops give me something to do – I feel relaxed when I make things and after the workshop, I leave feeling happy, buzzing with ideas I want to make the next week. People think people like me can't do things – but in these workshops I can show them they're wrong!

Art for All Community Learning Programme participant from Park Barn Centre

The Park Barn Centre, based in the Westborough ward of Guildford, provides support, services and activities to people aged 55 and over and their families.

In September 2019, Watts Gallery Trust began to lead weekly art workshops at the Park Barn Centre. In February 2020, we also started to offer weekly workshops focussed on intergenerational making, which are open to all ages. Visitors to the centre have a variety of needs and abilities – some attend to avoid social isolation and loneliness, others because they need daytime care due to dementia or learning disabilities.

This year's highlights:

  • Working with artist Helen Locke to co-produce textile wall hangings, taking inspiration from G F Watts's Portrait of Jane Nassau Senior, 1858.
  • Making a series of collagraph prints, inspired by the works of both G F and Mary Watts.
  • Weekly intergenerational workshops encouraging all ages to make art together through creative activities engaging the under 5s and over 5s.

  • Wonderous. Clever things. Pulling people together and making my mind tick – it's my treat.

    Art for All Community Learning Programme participant from Park Barn Centre

    Just because I'm old I am treated to and spoken to like a child. I'm not – I'm still ticking up here and I'm still interested and capable of learning new things – I'm not here to do colouring in. What you're offering is exciting and exactly what I want. I'm so glad you've asked us what we want.

    Art for All Community Learning Programme participant from Park Barn Centre

    My art practice is primarily focused on co-authored and community rooted projects. I work alongside groups of people in various settings, or locations to encourage and model creative processes. I prefer to work in a way that allows for flexibility and reflection/ evaluation as the projects proceed, and this is how Watts Gallery and I planned and executed the start of my weekly relationship with community of Park Barn. This model of working suited the ambitions and challenges of working within a very diverse community, it stays focused on the participants and the needs of our community partner.

    My focus was to follow the desire from the community centre to encourage more cross generational activity. Allowing for the newly established younger users and their families often to be found in the playroom and the community cafe to be connected to the more established older users of the day room. Initially I designed art activities that were focused on the younger members (and families) of the centre, and once starting that relationship, we moved across the corridor to work within the two groups to encourage integration and deliver weekly group activities and creative opportunities for both groups to explore alongside each other. A gradual interaction and mutual assistance were established within the very young and the older generation. Both offering moments of assistance or receiving it!

    Becci Kenning, Art in Transit