Silbury Celebration hits the back of the net!

During summer 2018, I co-facilitated an intergenerational project in Ashton Vale with the wonderful Nia Evans who also works for Wyldwood Arts. The project focused on bringing together two local groups – the Silver Social Club and Young Bristol youth club. They worked collaboratively and creatively to plan and deliver a joint fundraising event for a place they all depend on – the Ashton Vale Youth Club.

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Hillstories: Why we fell in love with Bingo and Barton Hill

Since June 2017, Wyldwood Arts has been working with Travelling Light Youth Theatre to create a performance based on Barton Hill and all those who love it. Hillstories, our new intergenerational project, has seen the Youth Theatre (aged 11-19 yrs) get stuck in to the local area, meeting with older adults from whom we have learnt so much!

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Mayfest: We grooved our way through May Day!

On Monday May 1st, Sandford Station was filled with laughter, music, flower crowns and glitter, as the residential care home was transformed into a one-day festival for ‘Mayfest’.

Wyldwood Arts teamed up with St Monica Trust, to offer a day of fun and creative activities for around 500 people including residents, their families, volunteers and locals from around Sandford Station. Rachel Adams for Wyldwood Arts said, “We had over 100 performers and facilitators from various art forms and of all different ages, and were delighted to be able to celebrate so many wonderful intergenerational relationships.” Staff at Sandford Station said they had “never seen the place so busy”, highlighting the importance of community engagement in a society where loneliness is one of the biggest threats to the happiness and wellbeing of older adults.

 
The festival showcased everything Wyldwood stands for- it was friendly, open, creative and joyful. A special treat was a performance of ‘Seventeen’ – a play which the residents of Monica Wills House had previously created with Made in Bristol. It included a touching moment talking about a recently deceased member of the group, Dennis, whom we had all come to know and love. He would have been over the moon to know he meant so much to so many.

It was incredible to see all ages making the most of the day. Children gathered together in the arts and crafts tent and danced around the maypole. Adults chatted whilst tasting cider and soaked up the sun while enjoying the hog roast. And the older adults got stuck in to pretty much everything, including choir singing, chocolate tasting, and even the energetic archery classes and samba drumming, proving that age doesn’t affect how old you actually feel, and shouldn’t stop anyone from joining in and having fun!

Rachel added, “Events and days like these are so important for communities, in and outside of care home settings, to bring people together and see age as just a number. So many people said that they enjoyed the day and everywhere you looked people were smiling and enjoying themselves.” Safe to say that this May Day can definitely be counted as a success.

Here’s to an even bigger celebration next year!

Written by Kate Wyver, Emerging Artist & Chat Back Practitioner

Note from Wyldwood Arts: Thank you to Kate for writing this lovely piece for our blog page, and to all of the wonderful performers who gave their time and talent to making Mayfest such a brilliant day for everyone involved. And of course, thank you too, to the local community for coming along and getting involved. We’re thoroughly looking forward to next year!

For the brilliant full Mayfest video by Camilla Adams, head over to our Vimeo page.

All photo credits to Barbara Evripidou, 2017.

The Generation Game; a tale of community, arts and friendship

Kate Wyver is a Theatre and Performance Studies undergraduate at the University of Bristol. She is currently one of several emerging artists taking part in one of our Chat Back projects involving residents at the Monica Wills House, part of the St Monica Trust in Bristol and North Somerset. Following graduation Kate is hoping to move in to journalism, originally writing this article for Bristol 24/7.

“I spend Thursday afternoons with a group of people four times my age. As part of my University placement with Wyldwood Arts, I’m waltzing, learning and storytelling with the residents of Monica Wills House in Bedminster.

Wyldwood focuses on intergenerational arts projects. Through chatting, games, dance and copious amounts of tea, we spend our time with the residents building them as storytellers.

Working with older adults of varying abilities puts small troubles in perspective. Walking in, you shed your worries and time stands still for a while. You’re immersed in their jokes, stories and chatter. A few weeks ago, two of the residents were chatting about age. “How old are you?” one resident asked another. “92!” he replied proudly. “You see,” she turned to me. “I’m only in my eighties. I’m so young!”

We’ve formed a theatre company, this group of older adults and us younger ones. We’re working towards a play that will be performed to the public in the beginning of June.

There is occasionally a tension between ensuring the group are comfortable and trying to move forwards with the creation of the show. But the happiness of the residents is the priority, and if that means we don’t get any further with the development of a story or the creation of a character that week, and instead spend the time talking about their memories of family or friends, that’s okay. The process is created to be flexible to their needs, and it is fantastic to know they feel they can share personal stories with us. It is a safe space to share. With sixty or so years between us, there are undoubtedly differences of opinion, but open-mindedness is key, in both directions.

Quote:

“I not only now know how to operate an electronic wheel-chair … I am also learning life lessons about love, loss and carrying on.”

It’s a reciprocal process. I, and the other young artists, are learning so much from the residents. I not only now know how to operate an electronic wheel-chair (and after being allowed to play in it I reckon I could challenge anyone to a race in one) and how to move conversation on when someone with dementia gets frustrated with their inability to remember, I am also learning life lessons about love, loss and carrying on.

It can be tough when they’re ill. Attachments are formed quickly, and seeing someone who one week is bouncing around laughing the next week bed-bound and pale is tough.

But to see their growth in self-confidence is unbeatable. Their self-belief has sky-rocketed over the past few months, and at the same time so has my own.

It is a joy to be doing my University placement with Wyldwood Arts, and each week I look forward to spending Thursday afternoons with my new friends. Or rather, my old friends.”