Artists commissioned to create keepsakes across North Yorkshire

Rural Arts has announced the 11 artists commissioned as part of Keepsake, its new project to reduce loneliness and isolation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. These 11 commissions will provide treasurable cultural experiences to over 700 people, increasing their wellbeing and connecting them to a sense of community.

Seven participatory arts experiences – all of which can be completed from the safety and comfort of home – have been created, one for each North Yorkshire district. In the east of the county, activities include Chris Mawson’s poetry ‘daisy-chain’ (Ryedale), Jade Blood’s postcard printmaking (Hambleton), Adrian Riley’s exploration of nature sounds, and a community quilt project with Tadcrafters (Selby).

To the west, Rachel Goldsmith introduces Richmondshire residents to terrazzo, whilst in Harrogate Ryan Walsh and Isobel Cameron showcase cyanotype, ‘nature’s photography’ and Sarah Louise Jay leads a ‘laser cut stained glass’ community exhibition in Craven.

Reaching audiences across North Yorkshire – and around the world – will be four performing arts commissions. Kerrie Marsh’s audio experience ‘Ask for Sophie’ is accessed by phoneline and explores the experience of being LGBTQ+ in rural areas. Tom Wentworth’s ‘Pen Pals’, available online, celebrates friendship, the countryside and reconnecting with yourself. Audiences can journey beyond their imagination with Ella Mesma, who has developed a virtual dance experience that combines live performance with alternate reality. And all the way from Canada comes a new song inspired by the people of North Yorkshire and their resilient spirit from Nova Scotian sisters Cassie & Maggie.

“Sometimes we just need somebody in our lives who we know we can talk to, who’ll listen to us and understand what we’re going through”, says Kerrie Marsh, whose commission is the first to launch on Monday 3rd May. “Hopefully Ask for Sophie speaks to audiences across North Yorkshire – LGBTQ+ and otherwise – and reminds us all we’re not alone”

“We’re so pleased to be bringing creativity to the heart of communities across North Yorkshire, and particularly to people who’ve faced additional challenges due to the pandemic”, shares Rural Arts’ Director and CEO Max May. “As well as supporting local communities and developing individual creativity, the commissions invest in community-based, unfunded and underrepresented artists. Artists from these groups face heightened difficulties securing work during the pandemic.”

All of the commissions are free to access and more information about how you can get involved is available at www.ruralarts.org/keepsake. Keepsake is funded by Arts Council England.