Towner Eastbourne is delivering creative art bags to vulnerable households in collaboration with other local organisations providing lifeline services.
The initiative is the brainchild of Towner’s new learning team, Esther Collins and Willow Mitchell, who have partnered with local community groups including the Association of Carers and Eastbourne NetworX.
The recyclable creative art bags contain sketchbooks, drawing equipment and brightly coloured pens, which the team hopes will provide healthy mental stimulation during the Covid-19 lockdown and promote relaxation through art at a time of heightened anxiety.
The kits are aimed at those most negatively impacted by the crisis. They include pre-stamped postcards so that recipients can share the artworks they’ve created by posting them back to Towner.
Collins, who is the head of learning at the East Sussex art gallery, said she hoped recipients would share what they have made and that she was looking forward to "seeing all the wonderful artworks". Communication and staying in touch are key aims of the initiative, in order to combat the loneliness and mental health issues for vulnerable people living in isolation.
The bags were made by the graphic design company Fraser Muggeridge Studio, which designed them in a cobalt blue colour reminiscent of the NHS’s iconic uniform. Collins said she hoped to continue to work with Towner’s partners and communities across Eastbourne when the gallery reopens its doors.
The gallery has been busy online as well as with its post box campaign, offering free online activities for all. It has set challenges from its Instagram page @hello_towner under the tagline #makeshiftstudios, which encourages locals to get creative and stay engaged with the art world.
The challenges can be completed with everyday household items and have resulted in an array of DIY artworks, from rugs to tents and even skateboards. A series of #makeshiftstudios Facebook workshops are scheduled to start up later in the spring and will be open to all.
What kind of socially engaged work is your organisation doing during lockdown? Let us know via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and we’ll share it with the public as part of #MuseumfromHome day on 30 April.