Spreading creativity in Torquay

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(Last Updated On: June 6, 2020)

People in Chelston, Torquay have been making mini willow sculptures to decorate their gardens during lockdown.

The idea began when a community project to create willow sculptures for the local parks was put on hold. Local people wanted to continue making sculptures, and found a way to share their creations with others. Woven willow hearts and stars are now hanging in windows, on doors and around front gardens so that anyone taking their daily walk can enjoy them.

Celebrate Chelston is a project designed to increase residents’ pride in where they live, and encourage people to take part in creative activities. As part of Torbay’s Great Place Scheme, it is one of a number of initiatives to improve people’s wellbeing through culture and heritage.

When the community workshops were postponed, Celebrate Chelston project managers Vik Westaway and Laura Carus quickly found a new way for residents to continue their creativity. Over 200 mini willow sculpture kits have been sent in the post, instruction videos made available, and the results shared in gardens and online for everyone to see.

Celebrate Chelston project manager Vik Westaway said:

“We’re building a sense of community and collective endeavour even though we must all stay at home. Local people really enjoyed the community workshops before lockdown, and it’s encouraging to see the living willow sculptures which we made back then for local parks have now started to grow. The residents of Chelston have responded so enthusiastically to this new way to keep the creativity going. It’s wonderful to see people looking out for the hearts and stars hanging in people’s gardens when they’re on their walks.”

Mike Morey, Cabinet member for Infrastructure, Environment & Culture; and Board member of Torbay Culture endorsed the project:

“Celebrate Chelston!’ really caught the imagination of residents. What started as a creative group activity has had to adapt to the extraordinary circumstances we’re living through. That’s made it even more special – it’s connecting people creatively, whilst we follow the NHS advice, and stay apart. Celebrate Chelston! has truly captured people’s hearts.”

Celebrate Chelston is a Torbay Culture Great Places Scheme project in partnership with Torbay Community Development Trust.

(Author)

Kevin Dixon went to Audley Park – now Torquay Academy – and South Devon College when it was at Torre. After studying at Birmingham City University, he returned home because there’s nowhere else quite like Torquay. He then became involved in community and adult education, completed a PhD, and started writing about the weird and unknown side of town. He now Chairs Healthwatch Torbay and is involved in health and social care in the Bay.