Ingestre Hall and the Transformational Power of Art
Posted on 27th March 2019 at 14:50
Since its birth as a residential arts centre in 1960, Ingestre Hall has been a hive of creative activity, where children & young people find ways to identify, interpret, reflect on and share their loves, concerns, hopes, dreams and visions. The art that is produced and shared is often a powerful depiction of young people’s thoughts and desires and an allows the viewer to appreciate the effort and reflect on the meaning. This is a cultural interchange, an exchange of ideas that art has enabled. Ingestre Hall is uniquely well placed to support this, as a residential centre for young people committed to providing space, resources and support for participants to engage meaningfully with the arts, find their own voices and share them with an audience. We all have our own experiences of engaging with art and sometimes perhaps we forget those things that have truly inspired us.
As a child of the eighties I was lucky enough to grow up within an environment featuring no shortage of keen activists, all committed to high ideals of peace, social justice and environmental awareness. My mother was one of these activists, spending much of her life until her death in 2008, in the service of campaigning for a better future for all. Today I received a parcel from a journalist and film maker who knew my mother when she was active in the 80’s Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. It contained recordings of her talking about campaigning for peace and also from her friend Anne who had recently been released following incarceration in Holloway for non-payment of fines in relation to Greenham protest activity. Listening to my mother, a voice I hadn’t heard since 2008, I was struck by the way she described the contemporary issues of the day and how art and protest were seamlessly woven together and used as political activism and as an expression for positive change. It instantly evoked memories of a rich landscape of dancing, Chinese dragons, signing, music, art, laughter and lively discussion. As a thirteen year old I didn’t realise then that this was special; that being part of a dragon’s body, singing songs, dancing and designing campaign materials was something to be cherished, to be celebrated as a creative skill and as a form of cultural belonging. For me at the time it felt somewhere between mild embarrassment and absurdity. But now, hearing the interviews and recordings which includes a wonderful instruction for a circle dance and its accordion accompaniment played by my mother, I can see how some childhood experiences instill a desire for a better world, provides the moral and ethical foundation in the struggle for peace and equality, and allows us to find our own ways to freely and creatively express ourselves.
Perhaps we have lost our way since reacting to the injustices and threats presented by the politics of the 80’s, not helped by the liberal 90’s political establishment. Is it any wonder we often feel disconnected from each other? Have we lost the capacity for peaceful protest? I worry that as a society, we may have lost an ability to react creatively to political indifference. I hope and trust that as we move through a period now, where fear and lies seem to be motivating factors, and where the arts and creativity are no more than bourgeoises affectations, we can take stock of the cultural climate and take a new position, and express that position creatively, with humour and sensitivity, and where art and dialogue form the cornerstones of action and our desire and vision for change. Ingestre Hall is well-versed in helping achieve this step toward transformation, offering a place where imagination and possibility are celebrated and used as the building blocks for developing confidence and creative expression. A place where dreams are formed and memories forged. It is estimated that more than 150,000 children and young people have undertaken an arts residential at Ingestre Hall – at Ingestre we look forward to harnessing this legacy, creating new and exciting ways to build positive change and providing a safer and fairer world for all. The power of art is in its ability to transform – let us all make sure we are part of that transformation.
Many thanks to David Dorrington, Canadian based Journalist, Film-Maker and Musician for providing the recordings.
Check out the interviews attached on the blog!
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