In 2023 PERN was awarded some funding from the Eden Arts and Culture Development Fund to deliver an exciting programme of art activities alongside BlueJam Arts. This is a Penrith Welcomes Diversity project.
Our first two sessions explored capturing landscapes using watercolours. The group was led by Alex Jakob-Whitworth, and was hosted at BlueJam Arts Space in Penrith.
Our workshop participants represented many countries across the world – Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, Poland and Brazil to name a few. Many are refugees who now live in the local area, and their sense of belonging to a new place was deepened by the workshops’ use of material inspired by the beauty of the Lake District.
Claudi Hayward, PERN’s Community Outreach Officer, said: ‘It was amazing to see so many talented people of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds getting together to learn how to paint landscapes. Two of the participants are asylum seekers from Iran and it was important and moving to welcome them and appreciate their creativity.’
The project seeks to increase well-being through creativity. The emphasis is on involving marginalised people in arts activities, fostering group support, reducing isolation and improving mental health.
‘To be able to express yourself through art’, said BlueJam’s director, Jilly Jarman, ‘helps promote people’s wellbeing, resilience and freedom. It was wonderful to see the space all abuzz with creativity’.
The workshops will also be an opportunity to share positive messages about cultural diversity with the local community.
If you would like to get involved in the next workshops, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.