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Variations on a Weekend Theme

Karen Thomas

Open House is a long-term creative programme with Kettle’s Yard and communities in North Cambridge.  Emma Smith, Open House artist in residence, was selected by a panel of community members, and is creating a new work which explores the restorative activities and past times local residents undertake to feel better, inspired by Jim and Helen Ede welcoming servicemen from Gibraltar for weekends at their home in Tangiers.

During the summer Emma and the Kettle’s Yard Community team have been out and about in North Cambridge discovering peoples recuperative past times and also gathering “Mother Knows Best” remedies for a variety of malaises and situations.

Orchard Park Fiesta
Artist Hilary Cox invited Orchard Park residents to share their ingredients for “Restoration Remedy”, “Lethargy Lotion”, “Insomniacs Incantation” “ Jealousy Juice” “ Stress Tonic” and “A Remedy for a Broken Heart”. We were amazed at how many fantastic suggestions people shared; “A little dog helps stress!” “Getting a new toy” “Ponder on your blessings and everything will be OK” are just a small selection of the ideas people shared.


ChYpPs Summerdaze
Artists Hilary Moreton and Jane Waterhouse explored Magic Spells for Friends and Giving Flowers with families in Browns Fields and the Meadows community centres with Cambridge City Council ChYpPs  (Children and Young People’s Participation Service) teams. Children shared solutions for shyness, solving an argument and ideas of things to do if you’re bored. They also created flowers to give to people in their lives who would feel better on receiving them.

King’s Hedges Teddy Bears Picnic
Elaine Tribley and Amanda Westbury of Rich Tea Projects explored the healing power and meanings of herbs and flowers with families in King’s Hedges. Together they created recipes for Tussie Mussies, muslin bags filled with herbs to hang in your room to make you feel better. The Tussie Mussies created ranged from recipes “To help you see Fairies” to “A Cure for an Angry Boil”. As we frequently find though, it is the discussions with people during these sessions which are so stimulating and inspiring.

Romsey Mill at Meadows Community Centre
Cambridge-based youth charity, Romsey Mill, led a week of activities for young people at the Meadows Community Centre. Kettle’s Yard welcomed artist Ella McCartney who worked with the group to discover and create things which would make them feel restored.  Together they created Positivi-T-shirts, the Ultimate Playlist and Motivational Posters.


The Kettle Club
Artist Rosanna Martin joined regulars at the Kettle Club, a social group for older people, to explore the restorative power of word games and quizzes.  As well as tackling some of Rosanna’s own tricky grids, they introduced her to Hoy, a collaborative bingo-like card game.

Punjabi Cultural Society
Emma was joined by artist David Kefford who visited the Cambridge Punjabi Cultural Society, who meet regularly at Arbury Community Centre. Both adults and children chatted with the artists about how they relax or solve any problems. Before sharing solutions through letters, drawings and notes.


North Cambridge Academy
Emma Smith and David Kefford have also been working with the Arts Ambassadors at North Cambridge Academy and are planning and creating a chill out day at the school this autumn.  The students will create a positive area with music, furnishings, arrangements and activities which make them feel better and invite other children to try them too.


What happens next?
Kettle’s Yard will be working with some of these, and other groups, in the area to develop some of these ideas further which will be included in Emma’s final artwork to be created and shared later in the year.  Individuals will also be sharing their own restorative activities with others and then create a list of actions which they will also share with Emma over the next couple of months.