10 October 2016

In celebration of our ‘Heart of Art’ month, our Community Network Developer Jeni has put together her top ten ways to get creative and brighten up your community. If you’d like further information about any of these, please get in touch!

Community graffiti.

Yarn bombing

Yarn bombers covertly brighten up their neighbourhoods overnight, turning drab, grey areas into public galleries of textile arts. Learning to knit is easier and more relaxing than you might think! It can also be a great way to meet people, through ‘Knit and Natter’ groups. Save money by unravelling old woolly jumpers or asking for clothes donations. There is no ‘right or wrong’ as long as you keep safe, stay within the law and ‘do no harm’.

Temporary community art installations

Take inspiration from Scarecrow Festivals, which are a great way to get residents to share materials and skills. Anyone can take part and the whole community can enjoy the displays, which often remain in place for a week. Share the idea over a cuppa and see what response you get. Once interest begins to grow, talk to a local councillor to get advice and support.

Semi-permanent transformations

You can create low-cost installations using mosaics. Broken crockery and mirrors are great upcycled materials and create stunning results. If you are planning something beyond your own doorstep, then permission or support from the local council and local residents could be essential.

Face painting

Always popular at community events, face painting is a great way to engage young people and create fun, temporary body art. If you’re not sure how to find a local artist, try contacting the local nursery, school or community centre, who should be able to offer recommendations. Or buy some face paints and small free-standing mirrors so children can create their own masterpiece!

Murals and graffiti

Become the next Banksy and make your street into a place where art can be enjoyed by everyone. Graffiti and wall art is becoming more and more common in rural communities, as well as in cities. Artwork doesn’t have to be permanent; some artists create works on large sheets of paper using water-based paints and paste the design onto a wall, where it is gradually degraded by the weather. Reverse graffiti is a growing trend, where the picture is created by removing the dirt from the surface of a wall, revealing the intended design. The effects can be stunning – and you can’t be told off for cleaning a wall!

Moss graffiti

A greener way to brighten up the neighbourhood. There is a great guide to moss graffiti on the Instructables website. Attach your template to the wall and use paintbrushes to apply the ‘moss mixture’, made up of buttermilk, water and sugar.

Upcycle and recycle

You can use all kinds of items to decorate and animate your local area. Plant flowers in teapots, handbags, welly boots, bike baskets and old paint tins to add colour to your street.

Public action

Installations are a powerful and effective way to get a message across in the public arena. Art has the ability to reach people at deeper emotional levels, conveying what cannot be said with mere facts. For example, in Turkey, hundreds of people turned out to repaint the ‘rainbow’ steps, which were covered in grey by the local authority, after #resiststeps trended on Twitter.

Festival of Colours

Holi, the Hindu religious festival, has inspired many popular events in the UK. The Colour Run is a 5km run-jog-walk event that raises money for charitable causes, ending in a colour festival, with joyful explosions of coloured powder, to promote health and happiness.

Street décor

Decorating your street for special events like The Big Lunch can be dramatic, playful and fun to create. The Big Lunch favourite, bunting, can be made by people of all ages and abilities, and paper chains can be made easily from old magazines and leaflets. What a difference it makes!

Art is good for our communities, and artistic collaboration is a bonding experience. We make art together, not just because of the changes it can bring to the world around us, but because of the way it changes us internally.

Tatiana Makovkin, Creative Resistance