Sense shop project needs your charity donations to turn into art!

It’s not too late to donate your unwanted items to our RE-STORE project with Sense, the national disability charity.

You can take donations to any of Sense’s 22 charity shops in the Midlands. From there they will be transported to collection points in West Bromwich, Kingstanding, Worcester and Kidderminster.

Donations are welcome until September.

Sense shop staff and the public will choose objects to put forward, and artist-led organisation ‘Ha’ will create sculptures to display in the original shop settings and at Sense TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

The sculptures will be made by Sense art-maker, Stuart, in collaboration with artists Rob Hamp and Andrea Hannon from ‘Ha’.

We caught up with Andrea to find out how the project is going…


Claire and Rachel at the West Bromwich Sense store…

How do you feel about the public response so far?

It has been truly overwhelming, the response from both the public and Sense managers and staff. Many people have been interested and intrigued by the project. It has triggered conversations between the public and the shop members, which is fantastic. We wanted this project to encourage Retale in its story form, the passing of information, with people talking about the project and the items they have chosen to donate.

It creates a dialogue that perhaps would usually get lost when donations are made. We our bowled over by people’s friendliness and how we’ve been welcomed by the Sense team who are so passionate about what they do.

What interesting or unusual items have been donated? Any stories behind them?

A beautiful wooden mantle clock has been donated to us as a gift from the wonderful Mr Hogan. It has been with him through three house moves.

My favourite is a colourful sponge made up of three stripes, yellow, red and orange. The donation label says, “Thought this sponge was happy and wanted it to be used for something more than cleaning.” I really feel this one object represents the project in so many ways: a sponge soaks up things, drawing them in, which is what we are doing in RE-STORE; soaking up stories, new friendships, and interactions.

The weirdest is perhaps a body board for the sea with a large picture of a shark on it. Very scary but ultimately interesting and strange.

What are you now looking for in terms of donations? 

We aren’t looking for anything specific, and all objects are welcome. However, we have asked that managers ensure there’s a variety of objects going into the bins. Specifically, object that have different textures and forms.

How are you going to use what you’ve got?

In workshops we will work with art maker Stuart to interact with and think about the objects in different ways – particularly through touch – and respond to them creatively through conversation. We will create marks, drawings, ultimately working towards creating four large sculptural works made up of the selected objects.

How will the donations go forwards to sessions with Stuart?

The bins will be collected at the beginning of September and brought to TouchBase Pears. The objects will then be used during workshops to stimulate conversation and responses with Stuart.

image for blog session 1

RE-STORE plays on the idea that the project ‘RE-STORES’ all those individuals and objects involved.

  1. The objects from the shop are ‘RE-STORED’ by being used and interacted with again in a new way

  2. Participants are experiencing something new, and it is hoped they will feel ‘RE-STORED’ through their participation in the project.

  3. Artists from ‘Ha’ are ‘RE-STORING’ objects through the making of new works and exhibiting them to be experienced by others.

Research into the experience of Sense art-makers throughout the project will help to inform future work encouraging creativity and inclusivity in the field of disability arts, with a focus on how participants express themselves, and the benefits of sensory arts practice in relation to disability and wellbeing.

The project will be drawn upon as a case study and the research will culminate in a paper that will discuss the project’s outcomes and contribution to existing research in the area of arts and wellbeing. The aim will be to publish the paper and use this to deliver a lecture at Coventry University.

Images from the Making Together exhibition at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham, a multi-sensory exhibition featuring work by disabled people. Picture credit Annette Pugh

Making Together…

RE-STORE forms the third phase of activities between Sense and RBSA as part of the Making Together project, which is supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Phase One involved artists Annette Pugh ARBSA and Karoline Rerrie delivering art workshops to groups at Sense TouchBase Pears. The artwork created was exhibited at the Gallery in the Making Together exhibition in February 2019.

Phase Two saw Annette and Karoline working one-to-one with two Sense art-makers through a series of mentoring sessions. The artwork produced will be exhibited at RBSA Gallery in September. Portraits made from observations of the sessions by Fran Currie RBSA will also feature.

Phase Three is the RE-STORE shop project, which will result in an exhibition of sculpture, donated materials, and research in February 2020.

Images: ©  ‘Ha’, Sense, and artists Karoline Rerrie and Annette Pugh

#artanddisability #inclusivearts #multisensoryimpairment #sensoryart

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