Stretch 2016 – A Summary

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Stretch Digital

We’re now well into our second year of delivery for Stretch Digital it feels like time has flown! Wallis, Josie, Si and Alex have all done amazing work with a number of participants in prisons across the country including Thameside, Kirkham, Peterborough and Bronzefield. We’ve has also worked with groups of young people in Leeds and The Mustard Tree in Manchester. Next year we’ve secured work with HMP Wandsworth and HMP Lindley so things are looking positive for further uptake of the workshops in 2017.

All the films which have been created during the project can be seen here:

https://vimeo.com/stretchcharity

Stretch Outsider Art Fest

Stretch has always advocated for art and artists outside of the ‘mainstream’, and one of our primary objectives is to make the arts accessible to marginalised groups and individuals who, for various reasons, have limited access and levels of participation. In response to this, Stretch Charity curated a collection of outsider art from across the UK including installations, sound pieces, poetry and music from a diverse range of backgrounds in London between 18th – 22nd October. This festival of outsider art addressed the present state of play for outsider artists in the UK and offered a platform for them make statements about these current, turbulent times, passing social comment on issues such as housing, justice and immigration. We hope it will be the first of a growing yearly event to champion the arts of those who sit outside the recognised art world. It featured art works from a variety of artists including our own Josephine Wood and Wallis Eates as well as Chris Wilson, Delaine and Damien Lebas.

‘Barred’

Dean Stalham’s play Barred has been performed at Strangeways prison (to a standing ovation!), Kirkham, Leeds Beckett University, Salford Arts Centre and Brady Arts Centre and we’ve had interest from other Universities, prisons and theatres. The feedback has been great, and Dean and Stretch are looking at putting together an educational package which can be sold to different institutions. The play is based on Dean’s own experiences in prison, and explores issues around family ties, mental health, drugs and arts for rehabilitation.

Tagged Workshops

We ran the Tagged project earlier this year with care leavers from Si’s storytelling group. The project aimed to use untrained actors like those in this group, tackling issues which are relevant to them and engaging – using their voices and stories to inform the action. Stretch is currently liaising wit directors and producers in the hope we can get Tagged made into a feature and we’re applying for funding to keep the workshops going. The groups had the chance to see their own stories and the Tagged trailer shown at The Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. Using Stretch’s digital storytelling as a springboard to explore film and TV acting and telling real life stories has proved to be really effective with this group. Hear some of the young people’s thoughts here:

We want to continue exploring new approaches to multidisciplinary arts which increasingly suffer from a ‘class ceiling’, to make sure acting and film is accessible to all.

Chrisp Street Stories

Stretch has been awarded Lottery funding for Stories of Chrisp Street (SOCS), a community project to archive important stories of a changing neighbourhood. Stretch will collect and show oral histories and digital stories from Chrisp Street Market in London E14 this is one of the last traditional East End markets in a rapidly changing part of London, the fast approaching gentrification from Canary Wharf is a sparkling monster slowly eating up the landscape. Stretch has two practitioners that live in the area and has become very involved in the community. We will be recording the stories and taking photographs – we will lead the groups on a storytelling journey which can be very empowering on its own as we really aim to capture the authentic voice of their stories told in their own words.

Design Against Crime with CSM

On 24th Stretch attended HMP Thameside for an exhibition of antitheft bags created by inmates who have been developing design skills. Alex made films with the group which you can see on our Vimeo site.

The Makeright project is run by the Design Against Crime Research Centre at Central St Martins. Stretch helped document the creative journeys of some prisoners in the groups as well as the volunteers who attended. Professor Lorraine Gammon of the DACRC has been very supportive of Stretch and with Carlotta is devising some longer research projects that may include a PhD for Carlotta over the next three years. Shorter term we will be involved in an ‘Outsider Art and Design’ symposium in July 2017 at CSM.

Other highlights of the year

  • Kay Goodridge’s work with women at HMP Peterborough. Kay held an exhibition at The West Bank Gallery in London and at HMP Askham Grange earlier in 2016 as part of her Awards for All project.
  • Talks at Universities. Carlotta presented Stretch’s work at St John’s University, South Wales University, Askham Grange and the Anne Peaker lecture in London. We also presented at the Prisoners’ Education Trust alumni party.
  • Tech 4 Good Awards. Stretch reached the finals of the Tech4Good awards in the Digital Skills category
  • Luke, one of the care leavers Si worked with won a Care Leavers Award and also performed in Barred
  • Carlotta’s Winston Churchill Travel Scholarship. Carlotta completed the second leg of her research into using technology for rehabilitation in prisons in Norway.

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