A new art exhibition which aims to help young people visualise the risks associated with swimming in unsupervised bodies of water has opened at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell.
Curated by South Hill Park Curator Loucia Manopoulou, the overall aim of the ‘Bodies of Water’ exhibition is to promote an improved understanding of water as an unpredictable force of nature that can take lives.
The artwork was produced as part of a project with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), in an effort to improve water safety education, following a number of devastating drownings in the county.
Staff from South Hill Park Arts Centre designed a project that would be co-created by young people to deliver the message in a creative and exciting way.
The 200-year-old camera-less recording process known as ‘cyanotype’ was chosen to create the artwork. Cyanotype is known for its blue colour and has been imaginatively adapted to reflect meaningful messages about water safety.
Textile Artist Hermione Thomson, was commissioned to work with Year 10 textiles students at King’s Academy Binfield. Hermione organised a series of workshops to co-create the artwork, and the students visited Bracknell Fire Station to gain an in-depth understanding of the risks associated with our waterways and what equipment and training fire and rescue service staff use when called to incidents.
As a part of their work experience programme, Creative Media Production students from Bracknell and Wokingham College also took photographs and filmed the creation of the artwork at each stage of its development.
Dave Crease, Group Manager, RBFRS, said: “We approached staff at South Hill Park Arts Centre as we wanted their expertise in how we could better engage with young people around the issue of water safety.
“As a fire and rescue service we have been called to a number of tragic incidents on Berkshire’s waterways, and we were keen to explore the use of art to illustrate the dangers of swimming in unsupervised bodies of water.”
Becky Jones, Learning, Participation and Community Engagement Co-ordinator at South Hill Park Arts Centre, commented: “It has been such a highlight for South Hill Park to design and produce this project, culminating in a truly poignant, engaging arts exhibition. We are delighted to have supported local school students to learn from such an excellent artist, working collaboratively to create thought-provoking prints. A huge thank you to everyone involved in this important project.”
Textile Artist Hermione Thomson, said: “It has been a privilege to work alongside such a talented group of people to create a meaningful and educational body of work using the Cyanotype process. The exhibition hopes to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding open water.”
Emily Moulton, Work Experience Coordinator for the Creative Industries at Bracknell & Wokingham College, commented: “This has been a fantastic project for our learners to engage with as a part of their work experience. It’s allowed them to gain hands-on, practical creative skills that will strengthen their future employability, as well as allowing them to engage with the community around them.”
The final artwork will be on display in the Grand Staircase at South Hill Park Arts Centre. The exhibition is free to attend and will run between Friday, 12 May 2023 and Sunday, 25 June 2023.
An exhibition preview for the whole programme will take place on Tuesday, 16 May from 5pm to 7pm, followed by a Q&A panel discussion with Artist Hermione Thomson and staff from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service from 7pm-8pm in the Recital Room at South Hill Park Arts Centre.
For more information visit the South Hill Park Arts Centre website.