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27.08.20

Stories of Art in Action - Hands On Cove Park

by Anita Bhadani
Image: Hands On at Cove Park: Image courtesy Cove Park
 

HOCP at Home!’ is arts organisation Cove Park’s programme of public digital engagement during lockdown. Designed as a series of short films led by artists, each film offers a glimpse into the life of an artist: and encourages you to get involved from home.

A temporary alternative to their regular programme of workshops designed for young people in the local area, through the HOCP films, Cove Park have devised a way to both create opportunities for artists during a precarious time, while finding alternative ways to engage with their local community.

ENGAGING LOCALLY, AND BEYOND

“We had to stop our regular programme of workshops quite suddenly due to lockdown”, Emma Henderson, Hands On Cove Park Programme Producer tells us. “What we really wanted to do through HOCP was to try and convey what we’d been doing in our regular programme, translating this for an online audience.

A lot of our workshops are run by professional artists who we’ve worked with on an ongoing basis, and we ask them to provide a workshop that reflects their practice.”

“I hope that people find these films a year on and they’ll still feel valid. A nice time capsule of the time.”

Indeed, the attendees of their in-person workshops – typically young people at school – get a real taste of what the life of a practicing artist in Scotland is like. This is something that they hope to convey through their films, too.

“Typically, the artists will create something reflecting work they created while on a residency at Cove Park. We like to think each piece is a showcase for them as much as it is for us.

You’re seeing a little bit of their studio, a little bit of what they do. And you can take away a little piece of that to do at home.

“It’s sometimes quite weird and wonderful and that’s the whole point.”

There is indeed an eclectic range of online films to dip into – from a film showing traditional boat-building with Archipelago Folkschool (eventually Cove Park will work to help bring this course to a local secondary school in person), to movement exercises led by artist Ashanti Harris – designed to encourage us to think about how changes in the way we move can feel.

“Each week is a little bit different”, Emma says. “We’ve tried as much as possible to spread HOCP across all art forms. We have a writing workshop scheduled after the summer which we’re looking forward to, too.”

Although the films were created with Cove Park’s usual participants – young people in the surrounding local areas – in mind, there is a benefit in using an online medium to publicly share this with a wider audience.

“I’m mindful that along with being created to fulfil a specific purpose, the films are really interesting pieces of work to watch as standalone pieces.

So, I think they do translate for a wider audience, which is what we were hoping to achieve.”

One of the advantages of utilising digital platforms is that these films are ones that be revisited time and time again, and continually discovered by new audiences.

“I hope that people find these films a year on and they’ll still feel valid. A nice time capsule of the time.”

FROM ONLINE TO IN-PERSON

Beyond the series of HOCP at Home films, Cove Park have been looking at ways to expand upon the work they’ve been engaged with during lockdown.

“We’re using weekly activity sheets, sent out via email and left at post offices and places around the local area. Hopefully this will help beat screen fatigue, and provide a way of engaging offline too.”

They have also launched a pilot project with one of their local childcare hubs.

“The project was a follow-on activity from Caitlin Hegney’s film, which showed techniques for creating unique jewellery and decorative objects at home.

The hub showed the film, and then we did a live workshop building on the techniques shown within the film, with the arts materials we sent through prior. It was nice to give the film another lease of life.

We are looking forward to continuing to develop more, similar projects working with artists and the local community.”