My Creative Life: Talking Heads

My Creative Life: Talking Heads, an exhibition of clay sculptures inspired by Elisabeth Frink, opens today (2 December) at Dorset Museum.

The heads on display are the expression of a creative process during six workshops at Dorset Museum. The workshops started in March 2020 and were aimed at adults with learning difficulties, men with mental health issues and older people suffering from isolation and loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Janna Edwards, founder of 15 Days in Clay, facilitated the workshops and Frink expert, Annette Ratuszniak, introduced participants to sculptures by Elisabeth Frink to inspire them.

Just as Frink expressed ideas using her hands and materials, participants responded through clay to personal experience and what was happening in the world around them. The workshops were a vehicle for the group to show how they have felt and still feel as we all continue to deal with the pandemic. The amazing finished heads are a testimony to their creativity and the benefits of the project which provided a safe place to meet as well as the freedom for individuals to express their feelings and emotions through the tactile qualities of clay.

The sculptures, all very individual, tell many personal stories. Words carved into clay, decorative features including flowers and stars and textured surfaces reveal expressions, reflect thoughts, suggest visual connections and echo the personality of each artist.

The heads are on display in the Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Community Space, and the exhibition is free to enter. They are displayed in a recreation of the artists’ workspace, on turntables where visitors can explore them through touch. A film of the project and quotes from the participants will accompany the display.

The My Creative Life project is part of a pilot, funded by Dorset Council and Arts Council England, managed by The Arts Development Company using the Help and Kindness digital platform to advertise creative activities in the community.

Emma Talbot, head of learning at Dorset museum, said: “Dorset Museum were delighted to be part of the wider My Creative Life project with The Arts Development Company and Dorset Council. The My Creative Life: Talking Heads project and the exhibition at Dorset Museum highlights the need and value of community co-curated projects. It also demonstrates how we as a Museum need to continue to ensure we offer opportunities for as many people as possible and enable involvement in arts, culture and heritage. Emma Talbot, Head of Learning, Dorset Museum.”

Project Facilitator of 15 Days in Clay, Janna Edwards said: “I have been so impressed with the talents of the individuals that attended, they have worked extremely hard to produce really thought provoking work, challenged themselves with exceptional results.”

Jo March of the Arts Development Company said: “It’s been a pleasure working with artist, Janna Edwards and Dorset Museum to organise this activity in their new education room where the participants have felt safe and supported and have also had unlimited access to the Frink collection for inspiration. It’s been a fantastic confidence-building opportunity for all involved, especially with the culmination of an exhibition of their work and demonstrates how it’s possible to deliver high quality adult day care opportunities within the local community, not only providing choice, but also overcoming isolation and loneliness caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.”

The exhibition runs until 6 March 2022.