I have always felt that if you have some sort of creative talent in an artistic field, that you should in someway at least, pass on some of that knowledge or perspective to anyone that holds an interest or a willingness to learn, as in some cases it can have a profound effect on their lives. It is something that I have always understood and strive to do, but it wasn't until recently that I truly discovered how enriching giving back can be.
Towards the end of 2016 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer with a weekly group session for adults with learning disabilities run by the Bearpark Artists Co-operative. For over 20 years this small group of highly talented artists have been giving their time and knowledge to provide a unique service to their community, and in the process giving a creative expression and just shear enjoyment to a wonderful group of people who may not have normally had this sort of access to creative arts.
Having previously worked closely with adults with learning disabilities in other regions outside of the North East, I can hand on heart say that I have never come across availability to this sort of service or group, certainly not with professional artists providing and willing to pass on their knowledge base, and presenting it in such a way that is so rewarding for the service users.
As we move into 2017 I am already looking forward to the start of the new term for this group, as I found my own involvement humbling and very rewarding at the same time, because it quickly becomes not only about my time and what I can offer as a creative, but a very real insight into personal expression through the eyes of people who think and express creatively in their own, albeit different way....so I am learning just as much as they are, which is very important.