Barnet Young People Art Gallery is one of several initiatives to help provide stimulation and interest for vulnerable people of all ages whose lives have been restricted by lockdown and who are keen to find inspiration.
Quilt making is another pastime being organised across the community and the aim is to create several large communal quilts that capture memories of the pandemic and life under lockdown.
Already two quilts have been completed. They are made up of individual pieces – of A4 size – of embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting or knitting.
One is a thank-you to the NHS and local doctors and the second reflects the past-times and hobbies of those isolated at home.
Organising these initiatives was the joint inspiration of Penny Baxter and Katiuscia Spanu who were determined to help vulnerable and isolated residents find positive projects on which they could focus during lockdown.
“I started a sewing group to produce personal protective clothing for health workers and after meeting Penny we have now expanded to organise ourselves in the wider community,” said Katiuscia.
Penny began thinking about a display of paintings and drawings by children isolated at home at the start of the summer holidays and the Barnet Young People Art Gallery was launched in the Spires in early September.
“Unfortunately, because of Covid-19 and lockdown we have a generation of young children who are currently trapped in their own homes. That can cause depression and anxiety.
“Therefore, it is all the more important we find projects for them. We hope preparing their own artwork – and having it on display in the Spires – might be just the inspiration they need.
“The paintings and drawing which are submitted are so interesting. Some are thanking the NHS, but others are just fun. Several are from two-year-olds.
“The idea behind communal quilts is to capture the thoughts, feelings and issues that people have been experiencing during lockdown.”
Penny and Katiuscia are also busy developing a “growing for wellbeing” project to encourage residents experiencing mild depression or anxiety to care for a plant.
Kits can be supplied with a pot of compost, fast growing seeds, and instructions. “Caring for a plant can provide a sense of purpose and be really rewarding, especially as you see it grow and thrive.”
The sewing group started by Kasia – Sewing for NHS and Barnet Community https://sewingbarnetnhs.wixsite.com/website – has grown from two to 40 members.
Since April, the group has delivered 6,179 items of personal protective clothing and equipment to local hospitals, hospices, doctors’ surgeries, and schools.
“We are now organising ourselves to make things for the community, donating items and the profit from sales to charity. In October, we hope to have a table in the Spires to showcase our work.”