On arriving at the entrance to Priory Park, directly in front of Gather Cafe, an eclectic and magical group meet every Tuesday morning. The group is simply entitled Walk & Draw and its ethos is to invite people who have migrated to Dudley from around the globe and encourage them to walk a few laps around the park’s beautiful surroundings, to stop and pick a new spot each week, to take notice of the beauty all around them and capture something, using a range of varied art forms.
These art forms range from stencilling to collage to watercolour painting and many others in-between. The simplicity is the groups beauty, we ask nothing more than for people to walk & draw and the magic that happens in the other moments is unplanned and inspiring. There is always a ‘posh’ coffee from Gather Café to be enjoyed as the group chat, draw and share stories. Often in the moment of silence you can hear bird song or the laughter and chatter from the parks many visitors.
For many of the group’s participants, who have migrated to Dudley from around the globe, isolation and loneliness is unfortunately all too common and so the opportunity to meet new friends and make vital connections is so hugely important. For some, English is not their first language and so being given a forum to chat and learn unfamiliar words, phrases and develop their English-speaking skills is much needed and so appreciated.
Each participant is given their own art bag which contains a journal, paint pallets, paint brushes, pens and pencils, everything that they need to create art. Most of the participants have personalised and decorated their art bags to reflect their own personalities, stencilled in the colours that they feel represent them. Each week the bag and art equipment may be added to depending upon what art activity they may be focusing on that given week, but the important thing is, is that they get to take them home and so they can continue to walk & draw where and whenever they feel like it. Some of the participants have shared their art bags with their children to help develop their art skills and to take part in meaningful family activities together.
Rarely have I encountered a group which holds so much promise or hope, where the simplest of life’s pleasures; nature, fresh air, taking time to just be, making new friends, taking notice of all that we have around us, walking and having a cuppa with people you have come to rely on, means so very much and is so very vital.
Written by Nicola Byrne (Project Development Worker for Integrated Plus)