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Sarah takes on Arts Award Discover

4th August 2020

Meadow Arts has been working with Sarah Edwards, an artist and creative based in Worcester who has her own company, Spare Room Arts. Here Steve Wilson asks Sarah about the recent Arts Award projects she's been doing online to help children from schools, Cubs and Beavers groups to get their Discover award.

A blonde woman sits behind a pine-cone covered desk, she is smiling

Hi Sarah – tell us about yourself

I am Sarah and I have been working for Meadow Arts as a Creative Practitioner for around four years. I love working with people and dreaming-up new arts projects or imaginative ways of doing things! When I am not working for Meadow Arts, I run my own business, Spare Room Arts, which specialises in running workshops and creative spaces for outdoor festivals and events. I trained as an installation artist so I am really interested in making imaginative spaces for people of all ages to experience creativity in different ways. I love working on collaborative projects whether it’s with other artists or with groups of children in schools. Art is a living thing and the energy and passion of a group of people working on one big piece of work can be really magical!

What has lockdown been like for you – it looks like you’re as busy as ever?

Lockdown has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate how I do things... in everyday life we quite often just do things the way we have always done them. I am a real people-person so love the energy of working with groups of others. To start with, I struggled to see how my skills as an artist could be transferable in a world that became online overnight. Art is practical after all. I decided to start making activity packs for children to make at home. I designed a series of 'Pop-Up Worlds' with the intention of trying to bring the outside world into peoples houses. I made coral reefs, jungles, deserts, circus performers (to name a few), for children to colour in, cut out and build, to combat the stress of being suddenly estranged from the outside world. This idea led me to make videos for people to watch at home. I tried as much as I could to use materials I had lying around the house, often using things I would usually recycle, making the videos as accessible as possible.

You applied for the Discover online work – why was that?

I applied to make some videos for the Discover Arts Award Online as I thought the brief was really inspiring. I think it’s so important for children to be creative; all children have a natural curiosity for the world and I see it as our role as artists to nurture that and inspire them to use their curiosity to express themselves. For lots of children, lock-down could have been a very stressful and uncertain time and art is a way of escaping this. It's much harder to worry about anything else when you are being creative - creativity releases dopamine in the brain, reducing anxiety and stress.

We loved the films! Tell us more about them.

Making the films was great fun, although they do always take a lot longer than I think they will. There were a few sections of both films I had to re-do as I forgot to say certain things or I said too much, in real life this is fine but on film, you have to be very clear with instructions because the children can't ask questions and I won't be there in-person to help them. I also found that however much you plan things, you can't control the weather! I wanted to shoot the whole of the second workshop outside as we were looking at the artist Andy Goldsworthy. I had to come inside in the end as it was so windy anything I tried to do blew away and the next day it rained! I learnt that day that having a back-up plan when filming is absolutely imperative.

We are fans of Andy Goldsworthy's work. Why did you choose it?

I chose Andy Goldsworthy as I really love his art, I also wanted to encourage the children to get outside and experience nature. Nature, like creativity, has a calming effect on all of us. Because lock-down has meant a lot of time spent inside, I wanted children not to feel afraid of being outside again and finding the beauty in the natural world. Another reason I chose Goldsworthy as my artist is because I knew natural materials would be accessible to everyone; anyone can go outside their house and find materials to do the award.

What would you like to see in the children’s art?

I'm really looking forward to seeing the artwork produced for the award and also to read what they've written in their logbooks - especially to hear if they've enjoyed the project. This feedback is really important to me, as it will help me refine any online videos I make in the future.

Thanks, Sarah - it was lovely to talk to you!


Find out more about Sarah’s work at Spare Room Arts


All pictures are from Sarah's films, showing the artist and what she made.