You can now visit the Crafty Culture: Make a Mandala installation in Aldershot at the Princes Gardens bandstand!
In preparation for re-starting West End Centre's Crafty Culture group in September, after the impact of COVID-19, we invited locals from around Rushmoor to crochet their own mandalas in order to create a textile art installation. The project was set up to encourage people who were feeling isolated because of the pandemic to take part in a community-wide arts project.
The installation is a celebration of creativity and the local community, bringing vibrancy to the town centre, in collaboration with West End Centre and artists Barbara Touati-Evans and Gemma MacLennan. Funded by Rushmoor Borough Council.
Whether participants joined one of our Make a Mandala workshops in June, crocheted their own pattern at home, or picked up a free pack of materials from one of our community collection points to take part, we're blown away by the beautiful creations that now hang in the Princes Garden bandstand.
“This project has given many people a sense of community spirit at a time when we have needed it most. During lockdown, a lot of people have felt really isolated - mental health and how we can look after our own wellbeing have really come through to the forefront of the project. It has enabled people to create their mandalas safely at home, whilst at the same time allowing participants to feel part of a much larger project that the whole community can enjoy.” Alana Jones, Community Programme Coordinator at West End Centre.
Here are just a few project participants telling us their feedback, stories and reasons behind their involvement...
"I recently completed a beginner's crochet course with Hampshire Cultural Trust, I wanted to contribute to the art project, as a thank you." Sandra
"I found crocheting helped to 'slow down' my head and life temporarily - I would have made mine a lot bigger if I'd had the time!" George Ellis
"I wanted to build on my (very!) basic crochet skills and create something both aesthetically pretty and useful. I was also very excited to be part of a community project and attend a real-life workshop, which we haven't been able to do since before lockdown! Mandalas are a spiritual symbol and are therefore important for both creative and therapeutic reasons." Emma Newson
"It will help to brighten up the bandstand in Aldershot! It also gave me something to do in my retirement." Debbie Webb
"It's a lovely project and I wanted to support it. It came at the right time for me as I needed a distraction as I prepared for some intrusive medical tests. Mindfully, repetitively crocheting really helped me to stay calm and to take my mind away from over stressing. Thank you!" Ginny
"I enjoy craft and I thought it would be a good opportunity to improve my crochet and have fun with my friends that I did it with." Catherine Norman
A massive thank you to our community collection points for helping us to supply the community with crochet material packs: Farnborough Library, Aldershot Library, The Dressing Up Shop and Aldershot Market.
On Monday 13 September, Crafty Culture returns to West End Centre - friendly weekly drop in sessions hosted by Barbara Touati-Evans. The free class is for people from all backgrounds and cultures who come together to create and craft at the arts centre every week. The group is aimed at anyone from the local area whose mental health and wellbeing would benefit from a free, drop-in craft session, or who is interested in meeting other people from different cultural backgrounds. Participants can either learn some basic crochet skills, or join by doing another creative activity and socialising - creations can include rag rugs, knitted scarfs, embroidery, jewellery, pattern cutting...the list goes on!