Room 13 art boxes prompt creative response from Lochaber youngsters

NO F25 Room 13 Art Box - Portrait of Quinn's Granny
NO F25 Room 13 Art Box - Portrait of Quinn's Granny

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A catalogue of creative responses during lockdown from children in Lochaber has been made possible thanks to the efforts of one group of young people from Room 13.

One hundred Room 13 art boxes have been distributed throughout Lochaber, going to houses in Caol, Fort William and the surrounding areas, including Mallaig, Arisaig and Spean Bridge.

Richard Bracken, artist-in-residence, and Ali Berardelli, artist and Room 13 board member, began working with a small group closely involved with Room 13.

Weekly Zoom meetings and the Padlet app have been used to share visual material and ideas. One of the aims of the group was to find a way to use their creative skill to benefit their peers and the art boxes came from there.

The children suggested the materials and designed the lettering for the outside of the boxes, which were made possible thanks to funding from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund, allocated by the STV Appeal. The funds were made available to third sector groups to help tackle issues arising from coronavirus.

Mr Bracken said: ‘We wanted to contribute positively to young people’s mental health, as well as helping to keep them occupied with creative activities that weren’t digital, getting them to use their hands and their eyes.’

The free materials included a paint palette, clay, felt tips and pencils, cartridge paper, watercolour paper and a brush, and four ideas cards. One of the prompts is to Draw Your Granny, giving children hints and prompts on how to approach a portrait using video calling. Also included was a blank, stamped postcard for participants to send someone a piece of art.

NO F25 Room 13 Art Box Prompt Card
NO F25 Room 13 Art Box Prompt Card

The only digital element to the boxes is when children share and upload the artwork they have created with the art box materials, using a provided link and QR code. The group hopes to collect as many of these images as possible to be able to share them with the wider community.

This might take the shape of an exhibition at Room 13, a published pamphlet, or a projected display from the windows of the Room 13 Studio in Caol. What is important for the group is creating a catalogue of artwork created by young people at this time, that the wider community can engage with in the future.

NO F25 Room 13 Art Box - Artwork
NO F25 Room 13 Art Box – Artwork

The response to the boxes was instant, with the first 50 quickly being allocated, prompting another 50 to be created and sent out.

Parents have been responding to Room 13: ‘What a brilliant resource, my boys have loved being creative’; ‘Box is brilliant such a lovely idea. My girls have had so much fun with it. We have never used clay before and it’s definitely something we will use again.’; ‘These boxes are wonderful thank you so much. They are so excited and got to work straight away’; ‘Lovely to try out watercolours for the first time.’

Mr Bracken went on to say: ‘We’ve had quite a number of responses already and we hope it will continue.’


NO F25 Room 13 Art Box – Portrait of Quinn’s Granny

EXTRA PICS: NO F25 Room 13 Art Box Prompt Card

NO F25 Room 13 Art Box – Artwork