23rd June 2021: Yarmouth Springs Eternal: Goodbye, for now!

Yarmouth Springs Exhibition (image credit_Becky Demmen)

As Spring has now given way to Summer, the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project has come to a close. For the past year or so, it has been my focus and motivation, and has grown greatly from the time, care and input from our partners, artists, participants and audience. It’s sad to end but I’m delighted with the positive response and generosity of the people who brought the project to life

Hidden nature

Yarmouth Springs Eternal is a community arts, walking and nature project. We spent the Spring season walking around Great Yarmouth, taking notice, slowing down, talking and sharing together. The project shone a light – even when the sun didn’t shine! – on the abundance of resilient and persistent life that has pushed its way through the cracks of the town. Walking together reminded us of other things; we exchanged our ‘knowledge’, not just fact-swapping (although plant IDing can be fun too!) but the sharing of lived knowledge through childhood stories, games, folklore and colloquial words for places and plants that really resonated

The fact that this project evolved from the seed of an idea nurtured in 2020, during Lockdown, is no coincidence. After (or rather, still during) an on-going period of disconnection and disruption, ‘an opportunity to socialise’ was the one of the main outcomes, so far, people have said they gained from engaging in the public programme. Our community group also said that the conversations we had as a group made the ideas and places come to life in a rich way

As well as connecting socially, our audience and participants have said that finding creative ways to connect with nature, being introduced to a new artist’s work, and learning new creative skills were the next top outcomes of engaging in the programme.

We’re still collecting thoughts, comments and reflections from the people who attended the exhibitions and public events over on our survey. Since the survey has been open for submissions, our audience have said:

Photowalks with Jason Evans (image credit_Jonathan P Watts)

“[The exhibition] helped me notice finer details, to really look more closely to nature, particularly at the hidden plants amongst the exhibits, which correlate to the hidden beauties amongst nature”

“It was a great way to re-engage with local people & places after a period of confinement & isolation (Lockdown)”

“A credit to Great Yarmouth”

“All the artists were very approachable and friendly. Sometimes art can seem inaccessible to the lay-person but the format made it more accessible to me as a non-artist”

“I loved how all of the events were free, so they were much more accessible to lower income families/people like myself”

It was important that the project provided paid opportunities for artists and arts practitioners too, in the context of significant financial insecurity as a result of COVID-19. With thanks to funding support, 15 artists or arts practitioners were support through this project with paid commissions to lead sessions, exhibit their work or support with the running of the project, such as marketing

Whilst the project has ended, the main legacy is definitely many happy memories! I hope that there will be support for the project to run again, informed by the feedback from our community and public programme participants. We met with the community group on the last weekend of the exhibition to share the highlights, reflections and areas for development, and I’d also like to encourage anyone who attended the public events or exhibition in May to June to please fill out the feedback form. Your responses will help sow the seed for the next season of Yarmouth Springs Eternal

Thank you

The project was made possible with the support of 15 artists and arts practitioners and 5 funders. It’s hard to put into words how thankful I am for everyone’s input on the project, but I’ve had a go! Thank you:

Brilliant project partners, Jules and Kaavous of originalprojects;, who helped nurture the idea into reality and put in so much graft to make it happen!

Our wonderfully creative, honest and generous Yarmouth Springs Eternal community group for a memorable Spring. They didn’t just turn up, they got stuck in and shaped the programme, and made us all think! Supported with care by Moyses Gomes, our highly recommended and multi-talented project assistant

Our community programme artists who led us on Spring walks with their creativity and passion: Georgie Manly, Kaavous Clayton, Ligia Macedo, Lotte from Red Herring Press, and Mark Cator

The public programme artists whose installations enriched the project and the visitors experience with their imaginative approaches: Bill Vine, Company Drinks, Jacques Nimki, James Aldridge and Jason Evans, plus Climate Museum UK

Our amazing audience who supported the project, not just in presence, but by deeply engaging, questioning and evolving the ideas with their thoughtfulness

Yarmouth Springs Eternal Playbook (Image credit_Genevieve Rudd)

Rob from Norwici Print who beautifully designed and printed the Yarmouth Springs Eternal Play Book, a legacy document from the project, capturing the creativity explored in the early Spring community series in an easy-to-follow format

Becky Demmen from Supporting Your Art, who has been working in the background remotely throughout the project. She produced our incredible project video that ingeniously captured the essence of the project through sounds and images. And who ran the project social media excellently too

And finally, the project funders who made it happen with the all important cash backing: Norfolk & Norwich Festival Creative Individuals Norfolk (especially Ailsa McKay and Sally Rose), Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, East Anglia Art Fund, Norfolk County Council Arts Project Fund, and Better Together Norfolk

Goodbye, for now!