Weston Arts + Health Week programme goes live!

The Weston Arts + Health Week offers a host of free events and creative activities between Saturday 18 and Sunday 26 September 2021. The pioneering programme provides time and space to reflect, as well as many shared opportunities to boost the health and wellbeing of people taking part. The full programme can now be found by logging on to www.superculture.org.uk.

Weston Arts + Health Week is a partnership between the Arts & Culture Programme at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and Culture Weston. Last April, the inaugural festival had to be swiftly re-imagined owing to the pandemic. This year, all of the activities have been planned for safe participation online and in person, in health and care settings and in green, open spaces.

At the heart of the initiative is the immersive artwork ‘In Memoriam’, from globally respected Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram. The artwork will be installed on the beach next to The Grand Pier throughout the week.

‘In Memoriam’ is a temporary memorial for the public to visit and remember all that we have lost from the Covid-19 pandemic. The poignant flag installation is also made in tribute to all the NHS health and care workers who have been working during the crisis. Originally commissioned by UHBW and Culture Weston, the acclaimed artwork has been experienced by communities all over the UK before coming home to Weston-super-Mare.

As part of the launch weekend, on the evening of Saturday 18 September, a contemplative procession entitled ‘Here For You’ will see NHS staff, care workers and volunteers participate in a torch-lit beach walk from the grounds of Weston General Hospital to the ‘In Memoriam’ artwork. As the sun sets, they will light an evocative installation of flickering flames created by Somerset based fire artist Mike Jones of The Pyro Studio, accompanied by the soothing tones of the Costanzi Consort choir. Spectators are welcome to observe this peaceful moment of reflection created in appreciation of the health and care community.

Another festival highlight falls on Friday 24 September, when ‘In Memoriam’ will provide the setting for the premiere of a new dance commission, created and performed amongst the flags by the internationally renowned ‘Studio Wayne McGregor’, alongside local dancers and students from Weston College and featuring a community chorus which all are welcome to join. A simple practice-at-home dance resource will be available on Culture Weston’s website from mid-September, and there will be a massed early evening rehearsal on the beach on Thursday 23 September.

This piece will be performed to the soundtrack ‘A Moment in Time’, originally commissioned by Bristol Old Vic, composed by Dan Jones and featuring the talents of Grant Marshall (Massive Attack), Stew Jackson (writer/producer Massive Attack), Adrian Utley (Portishead), trombonist Liz Purnell, poet Vanessa Kisuule and cellist Drew Morgan.

During the week, there are a multitude of other arts and health activities that people can take part in, promoting wellbeing within the community and led by an accomplished line-up of creative practitioners and health and care worker professionals. These include both online and in person events covering a range of interests from poetry and drawing, health panel discussions and artist chats, to bike rides, dance and outdoor events at allotments, parks, gardens, the beach and hospital grounds. Look out for UHBW Poet in Residence Beth Calverley as she pops up around town with her perennially popular Poetry Machine.

During the final weekend, everyone is invited to reflect on recent times with an inspiring light installation ‘Recovery Poems’ by Emergency Exit Arts. On Saturday 25 September, join poet Bob Walton and North Somerset Music Service by this light installation to enjoy and contribute to music and poetry shaped by the community and its experiences of the pandemic. Recovery Poems is a partnership project between Without Walls, Emergency Exit Arts, 101 Outdoor Arts, and Thatcham Town Council.

The Festival finale will take place on Weston beach during the afternoon of Sunday 26 September, with the first public sharing of ‘A Song for In Memoriam’, specially commissioned from local composer David Ogden for Weston Arts + Health Week and sung by the newly formed UHBW NHS choir. As the event draws to an end, the community is invited to join in this uplifting moment, held within the flags of In Memoriam.

Anna Farthing, Arts Programme Director at UHBW said: “Over the past eighteen months people in the health sector and in wider society have felt the impacts of multiple losses without having been able to pause, reflect and recover. Thanks to funding support from Arts Council England, and our partnership with Culture Weston, during Weston Arts + Health Week we can offer safe spaces for people to process their feelings, however complex and conflicted they may be. We will also celebrate the many creative opportunities to engage with nature and build communities that can restore wellbeing and sustain health as we look to the future.”

Fiona Matthews, Creative Director at Culture Weston said: “Through collaborating to produce Weston Arts + Health Week, Culture Weston and UHBW are highlighting the many positive community wellbeing opportunities that are on offer in the town. We hope this programme of outdoor experiences, creative taster events, and stimulating digital discussions includes something different for you to try, shining a light on new possibilities as well as providing reflective and replenishing moments of pause at this particular moment in time.”

Full event details, timings and how to take part can be found at superculture.org.uk/listings/weston-arts-health-week/

All activities are free, though some have limited places and participants will need to register in advance.

All events are presented in accordance with current Covid guidelines and some details may be subject to change – check websites and social media platforms for the latest updates: superculture.org.uk / @CultureWeston / @ArtsUHBW.