An artist in residence project; February – October 2020
More about the project that brought you the exhibition:
The People’s Chapel
CAS:AIR is a repeating, annual, community programme focused on involving Andover people in the arts. This year, the CAS:AIR programme saw Scottish artist John McDonald lead a group of local artists, some participants taking their first steps creatively and others discovering talents that have lain dormant, to explore the social history of Andover cemetery and beyond. The participants’ art exhibition The Peoples Chapel 27 Sep – 17 October featured new work by McDonald and a broad range of subject matter and media by people of Andover.
The ‘Themes of Life’ artist in residence project (CAS:AIR Feb – April 2020) was made possible with funding from Unlimited, an arts commissioning programme that aims to ’embed work by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people’. The project was also inspired by support from ‘The Beautiful Burial Ground’, a national project by Caring for God’s Acre, celebrating the unique spaces of Britain’s cemeteries.
The work in the exhibition was been created by the artists and poets McDonald has gathered around him. Like the cemetery itself, it brims with history and memory, personal and local, but also with nature and the environment, the ‘themes of life’ around us.
For many a personal transformation has also taken place. Not only have they claimed the space, but for some, under McDonald’s guidance, they have claimed the term ‘artist’ for the very first time. For others, the term was all ready a part of them, for some it had remained hidden through time and circumstance, and with McDonald’s help, they have rediscovered it once more.
Project Case Study
Susan Francis says, “I have extensive experience of community focused projects such as this one as CAS curator, a freelance artist and project manager. Personally, on this project I have observed immensely positive and transformative change in many of the people taking part, at a level which seems an irrefutable example of the health and well-being benefits of such a project. This has been almost totally down to John, whose enthusiasm, ability to communicate and dedication to the people as much as the project, has made this the success it is.”