An amazing new National Lottery funded art project has been launched in West Devon and East Cornwall.

The Craft and Community Project will, over two years, engage socially isolated people in learning new skills and helping with community art projects in Tavistock, Okehampton, Bere Alston and Callington.

 There will also be family workshops and events throughout the year.   In June, volunteers helped make props for Tavistock Carnival, including a giant puppet of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dream coat. In September, participants will begin three new projects: a mosaic in Bere Alston based on the village’s history, a painted mural in Okehampton exploring the Okement river and town and making large creations for the Tavistock lantern procession in December.

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was created for Tavistock Carnival
Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, created for Tavistock Carnival (Submitted)

Project leader Andy Cairns, from West Devon Art Workshops, said: “This will build on previous projects developing mosaics, murals, textile hangings, Tavistock lantern procession and carnival props.  Through learning a new skill participants will grow in confidence and through helping with a community art project will feel more engaged with the local community.”The project will run for two years, alongside the ongoing Art for All courses run in Tavistock, also funded by the National Lottery plus a whole array of full cost, but affordable and accessible art courses.

a wall hanging West Devon Art Workshops
A wall hanging created through West Devon Art Workshops (Submitted)

As part of the project, there are plans to develop a new art centre in Tavistock with 2D and 3D art studios to run more art and craft courses, for new art clubs to form including for young people and people with learning disabilities, plus space for community groups and local artists to make and exhibit their work. This has become particularly important as Learn Devon, the main adult education provider for Devon, will no longer be running art courses.

Tutor Gill Cairns, who previously worked for Learn Devon said: “The ending of art courses by Learn Devon is the culmination of years of cuts and undervaluing of the arts in general by local and national government.  Art is treated as an optional extra whereas in reality self-expression and creativity are fundamental to who we are.  Investment in people’s wellbeing actually reduces pressure on the NHS and social services so is money well spent.”

Andy added: “We will be working hard to fill the gap in local provision by providing affordable accessible art classes, clubs and events for people of all ages.  Get in touch to get involved and help us build creative , happy communities”

West Devon Art Workshops is a Community Interest Company that runs art classes and events for the local communities of West Devon and beyond, aiming to provide benefit in particular to people experiencing social isolation. It is open to all, offering time, space and materials to create artwork for individuals and groups.

For more details, contact Andy at [email protected]

A workshop in progress
A workshop in progress (Submitted)