On a chilly winter day, Jayne, Space to Be Access Engagement Coordinator, reflects on a successful event earlier in the month in A Space To Be.
Writing this blog on a Tuesday in mid-December, it is virtually impossible to promote our venue as a warm space. It’s freezing! The old radiators are hot to the touch, but our ceilings are high and the windows old and single-glazed. Katie, on the front desk, has come prepared, wearing a cosy jumper and sits with a hot water bottle on her knees.
It is quiet in the gallery, today. Our usual group have decided the ice on the paths is a little too risky to navigate, so Katie and I make teas for some new visitors who have found A Space to Be, and we make time for ourselves too, to reflect on some recent training and chat about future plans for the project. I like to imagine the future, but like many people, I worry in these unpredictable times.
In galleries and museums, we are working with the past but like other venues across the country, our conversations are equally about the future, these days. We talk about the future with our visitors- not just about upcoming exhibitions, and events, but the bigger picture- anxieties about paying our bills, affording essentials, staying warm. In the summer, our venue was a refuge from the blistering sun; in winter, we can offer a warm welcome, at least, A Space to Be with activities to occupy our hands and minds, conversation and a hot cup of tea, as well as some thought-provoking exhibitions, of course
The Woolly Jumper Swap Shop (Saturday 12 November 2022) came from conversations with participants of the A Space to Be project and our partners at Crescent Arts, and a realisation that our community groups and regular visitors to Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend needed an event which could potentially bring everyone together.
Many museums are finding ways to discuss the climate crisis and address climate anxieties, but we wanted to find a way of opening those discussions whilst doing something very practical, in a way that felt safe and supportive. A Space to Be has to feel like a safe space, primarily, and whilst the climate action is urgent, our visitors’ wellbeing is vital, too. We wanted to create an event to encourage our visitors to individually and collectively make some positive choices regarding sustainability and have fun in the process.
From our space in the gallery, you can see the sea. The ocean is our landscape, Scarborough seascapes are celebrated in our permanent art collection. It might seem like a tenuous link to our woolly jumper event, but we wanted to do something accessible that could also open up conversations about how our fashion habits can impact on the planet, and specifically our ocean.