The project has been overall a success. While the objective was to primarily involve youth it changed during the project and mainly involved a wider demographic. The initiative clearly filled a need for the Jasmine Crescent community. As artist, I was exposed to a community outside of the regular ones I meet in my day to day life.
As in all my projects, it is the human side which becomes prominent, because as a creative artist present on site over several weeks, I am available to chat with locals and develop a relationship with them. The sculptures are not threatening in any way and my ability to continue building while talking allows people to open up and share stories as well as release stresses. It became clear that people coming to the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard or residents of Jasmine Crescent, who are often impacted by the violent events in the area, are in need of an outlet to discuss their impressions and emotions about their neighbourhood. My land art sculptures served as a creative invitation for residents to open up about these issues.
I can tell that visitors sincerely appreciate the work and the result; in fact, many are surprised by the dedication to build something for their neighborhood, even if they learn that I don’t do it simply as an act of kindness and that I am remunerated for it. People took pictures, several came back multiple times, a few told me they visit in my absence. Some even added features in my absence.
The project has been great for me. Being on site allowed me to see first-hand how people move around the crescent, at what time, if they are young or old, on foot or motorized. During each session, I tried to place myself so that I would be close to the paths and visible by both drivers and pedestrians.
Six weeks and 15 creative sessions later, I feel that I leave nice lively pieces on Jasmine Crescent that several people will be able to take over, if not physically at least in spirit and mind. I met many adults, a few families with young children and a handful of youth. I believe that my work had and has a great impact on the neighborhood mostly because my renewed presence and dedication demonstrated care for it. I hope that the remaining structures will continue to impact locals and visitors. I also hope that other such artistic initiatives will happen and maintain a certain level of curiosity, inspiration and discussion.
To find out more about Marc Walter’s land art project with the community on Jasmine Crescent visit his artist page. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and keep your eye on ArtPlace blog for updates as all the 2016-2017 projects progress!