“Resources like this make you feel like you still exist” – As Art by Post: Poems for Our Planet comes to a close, we look back on it’s impact
On Sunday 23rd July, the Southbank Centre hosted an afternoon of poetry celebrating the end of Art by Post: Poems for our Planet. With project collaborators, participants, artists and link workers all in attendance it also marked the opening of a new Ackroyd and Harvey installation, which features lines of poetry by Art by Post participants.
Conceived of in lockdown, as a way to reach those most affected by isolation, Art by Post has supported people’s wellbeing by encouraging creativity. Poems for Our Planet is the second iteration of this project. Once a month for six months, those who signed up received a booklet which contained activities encouraging people to engage with and write about their appreciation of the natural world.
Over 4,000 people engaged with the project, many of whom received a referral through a social prescribing link worker. Victoria Ajani, who found out about Art by Post after she expressed feelings of loneliness, said:
“I’d feel really lonely if I didn’t have these places to go to... I didn’t know anything about poetry... now I do! And I’m improving!”
Her link worker, Tinka Gorden, agreed. She said: “Victoria has kind of blossomed in these different fields of art and creativity that she’s discovered through this project. It’s been extraordinary.”
Karin Parkinson, who was a carer for her husband living with dementia, emphasised the importance of projects like this one, as a way of retaining your connection to yourself and the wider world.
She said: “You have to feed yourself if you are a carer, if you don’t then you can’t care any longer. Resources that make you feel like you still exist – not just as a carer but as a creative person – are fantastic and I think Arts by Post really did that for me."
The sense of connection and community that the project created was evident on the day, with several of the participants reciting poems inspired by the booklets, and meeting people they had got to know in person for the first time.
As a part of the Southbank Centre’s ‘Planet Summer’ programme, the booklets – and the hundred of poems and artworks that came from them – focused on themes of nature connection, its ability to heal us and what this means in the context of the climate crisis.
Dan Harvey, one half of Ackroyd and Harvey, was encouraged by the participant’s affinity with nature that comes through in their writing.
He said: “It was really interesting to hear the amount of care the participants had for nature…[nature] is so strong if you give it enough space. it comes back and it will survive. That’s something that gives me hope.”
The artists’ grass installations can be viewed in the Southbank Centre until 13th of August.
We would like to say a big thank you to the Southbank Centre and all the artists, collaborators and participants for making this project such a success.
Watch the film below - created in collaboration with the Southbank Centre and Chuck Blue Lowry, to hear more about the project.