‘Scouring’ Redditch for a Connection to the Past

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‘Scouring’ Redditch for a Connection to the Past

07 May 2020

Photo collage of various sketches, art books and outdoor exhibits

Heart of Worcestershire College (HoW college) have ‘scoured’ the Arrow Valley in the heart of Redditch over the last two academic years as part of the ‘Scour II’ art project.

The aim of the project has been to shed light on local landscapes that may appear somewhat untouched but have in fact been affected by human intervention.

With a look to connect the past with the present, this project created collaborative artworks with a hope to reconnect industry in the Arrow Valley landscape from the medieval, to the Redditch as it stands today.

The two artists at the helm of the project, Keith Ashford and Elizabeth Turner, state that:

“The artistic idea underpinning Scour II is that contemporary art can both draw inspiration from historical contexts and throw new light on them; linking the past with present day concerns and environments in engaging if sometimes challenging ways.”

‘Scour II’ was an ambitious project that follows on from ‘Scour I’ (an eight month research project from 2016) and involves four main endeavours; the exploration of artworks that imprint the 18th century needle industry in the landscape (through land art, stencil graffiti, video projection and map making), providing student workshops and work placements for Further Education students from HoW College, providing workshops with today’s youth via walking, history and art groups, and creating an art trail, talks and exhibitions to engage the local and national audience.

Such a large-scale project provided fantastic artist collaboration opportunities for HoW College students, as well as some brilliant mentoring opportunities; the work that students have participated in will not only serve as hours towards their work experience but will be used in the promotion and evaluation of the Scour project itself. From video projection events, grass cut maps and object embroidery artworks, to group walk artwork and chalk spray stencil creations, the opportunities provided by Keith and Elizabeth are truly invaluable for our students.

Although the project came to an unfortunately premature end due to the Coronavirus, the students were able to experience varying levels of personal and professional development, along with trying out a wide range of new artistic approaches they may not have encountered if it wasn’t for the project. The installation in the Park of the stencil trail and the final exhibition in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, will all happen as soon as the lockdown comes to an end, and we cannot wait to see the project finale!

We would like to extend our thanks to Keith and Elizabeth for allowing our students to have such a unique experience, and we would like to say a big congratulations for all the brilliant work that was produced.