A new art project has been encouraging residents in two St Helens housing schemes to reach out and get to know each other.
This summer artist Sheila Ghelani has worked with the residents of Helena Partnership sheltered housing scheme.
Each week Sheila will work with residents to make out-of-the-ordinary gestures, creating a stir that reaches out to their community and invites others to step over the thresholds within the scheme.
Sheila, an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, participatory event and moving image, is currently leading the series of workshops in the schemes that continue into September.
Shelia, explained: “When I first visited the housing schemes one of the main things that struck me was that both the residents and Health and Wellbeing Office Nikki Wilkinson mentioned wanting to somehow engage with the more private residents, those who are a bit invisible and might not come down to meetings for a variety of reasons.
“There was also a lot of talk about doorways! So I started to wondering about how to cross some of those more private thresholds, to gain access or make contact with those that don’t come down to the common room, in the most non-intrusive of ways (letters, invites, gifts, sound).
“So that was the project’s initial starting point – ways in which to cross this very important boundary – the one between the residents private space and public space. It’s going to be great to see where the project ends up!”
The opening workshops saw participants create individual floral invitations, which were hand delivered to each of the properties within the scheme.
The mysterious hand printed invitations dropped through letterboxes with a note offering everyone in the scheme the chance to ‘Join Us’ – on a specific date, but with no location offered. This created a talking point, whereby participants and staff were able to share more detail about the forthcoming event.
Newcomers to the project then came out to join early participants and see a cellist and violinist perform – including the song ‘Getting to Know You’.
The growing group of residents from Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court will continue to work with Sheila to create new ways of getting to know their neighbours and explore the thresholds and boundaries that exist in their communities.
The project will continue throughout August and into early September. If you would like any more information please contact Suzanne@heartofglass.org.uk