Just wanted to share an anecdote from our experiences at Chapeltown Community Nursery. We have long used professional photography companies to take pictures of our children but received feedback that families were not keen on these images. At times children looked unnatural, stiff and uncomfortable and the pictures were pricey...
We decided to explore other options and found a photographer - Jonathan Turner - within our immediate community that agreed to revive our love of photos by scheduling a community photography day as well as photography workshops empowering our children to take and develop their own pictures.
We also found a funding partner, Leeds Inspired, to ensure that we could reimburse Jonathan to run the workshops with no additional costs to families and participants.
The pandemic delayed our community photography day by several months as we had local lockdowns and were not allowed to gather in person - in some cases our families had not been seen without masks until our photoshoot! In taking pictures we saw families together for the first time in ages, met neighbours including the creator of a local magazines and got into new conversations and reframing of our relationships with a renewed feeling of connection and hope.
We also re-envisioned our nursery's potential as a community space as it became a dark room and then a gallery; highlighting the potential of arts to create solutions to problems you don't always know you have. The community photography project began a series of other arts and culture engagements; building a little library with a joiner furloughed from a local arts venue, developing workshops with dancers and musicians, working with families and residents alongside a creative mothers group and our local housing advisory panel to improve our community spaces and develop new activities.
We are now on the cusp of launching a new arts exhibition with our children's work alongside artists as far afield as Hong Kong and Austria through a call out with Curatorspace. Working collaboratively with artists has connected our nursery and community to each other more powerfully but also to people further afield through sharing stories, photographs and drawings individually to distant family and friends and together as a nursery. Through these partnerships, we have developed an appetite for being more ambitious in our partnerships and vision for the future... if you want to learn more about our journey through play, creativity, arts, and culture in the pandemic you can read more here: https://www.chapeltownnursery.org.uk/post/making-playful-memories-in-2021