In the last week of 2017, we’ve eaten noodles, too much chocolate and toasted our participants before shutting shop for the year.

As the year draws to an end, we’ve had a nostalgic reflection on our work over the past year.

We opened 2017 with a new piece of writing producing Fried Chicken. Co~created over two years with 40 students from Anstee Bridge. The production explored gang violence and identity. It was born out of workshops and discussions with young people about their lives. They produced the work, auditioned professional actors to perform, ran rehearsal tasks, designed for the show and oversaw front of house.

Following this we ran Keep Sakes, an interdisciplinary project with 50 military families from across the commonwealth. The project looked at the heritage and history of Kingston Keep as one of only three in the Uk. It culminated in a heritage cartoon and the transformation of the community space. Visual art was made with, by and for military families now and in the future. At the end of the project wives went home to investigate the heritage of their own spaces across the commonwealth. Children relooked at their home and found old bricks belonging to the Keep. 

During the summer our Creative Clubs in Heston came alive with over 100 children involved in transforming schools corridors and classrooms into a site for play. They ran a craft market and also made a play. They produced their own version of Hansel and Gretel performing in three different spaces as a culmination of the process.

This winter we became part of an interdisciplinary arts team at Cranford Community College. Working with musicians, artists, media and dance staff to investigate the potential for creative practice in the curriculum. Pertinent at a time where the Stem/Steam debate & the Ebacc remain present.

Alongside this, we have held countless workshops and continue to deliver projects in progress. This includes Creative Spaces, where mums are collectively transforming an underused space into a site for creative play.

This year, we have worked with over 1200 children, young people and families across South West London. Our participants have ranged from 2-30+ in age, come from at least 20 different parts of the world and spoken multiple languages. Against a backdrop of global divisiveness, we feel really lucky to hold onto a small part of the world where what we make is not about labels. 

In many ways the work simply boils down to making people happy. I do not say that lightly. As the world evolves, divides and people attempt to conquer, happiness is fragile state.

All of our work is thematically very different. However at the heart of what we are doing is making sure creativity is inherently personal to our participants. 

In doing so we believe there in the parallel to increasing happiness. 

So, this is what we’ll be exploring more of in 2018. How can we foster feelings of happiness through creativity? We’re developing a framework to measure it, to test it and to champion it - the case for creativity as it were. 

Some of our artistic highlights will include

Emoji - A new piece of writing exploring emojis as a metaphor for discussing our feelings.

Transforming Tales - A mini festival inspired by Hans Christian Anderson and the mental health imagery in his work.

Loneliness in the City - An installation identifying the effects of loneliness in urban life.

But for now ... 

For those of you that bounced with us this year, thank so you so very much for another year. We’ve loved it. May your Christmas be merry, your new year be peaceful and , 2018 be happy. We’ll see you there.

Louise