Exploring the heritage of Leicester’s Cultural QuarterIn 2015/16 expresseum poetics worked with BrightSparks: Arts in Mental Health Group and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, to deliver a major project targeted at people experiencing mental ill health.
The main project was undertaken with ArtSpace (a drop-in group for artists experiencing mental health and social exclusion issues).
Through the project, the group was supported to explore the heritage of the Cultural Quarter area of Leicester city. This area has a fascinating history of change; of decline and regeneration. Once an important centre for local industry dominated by factories and warehouses, it is now a designated Conservation Area which has over ten Grade II listed buildings within it. We often don’t stop to look up, or to look at the buildings around us. An aim of the project was to give participants an opportunity to pause, to look at the impressive architecture of the Cultural Quarter, and to consider the heritage of an area which is familiar to them. It supported them to research and record the area’s heritage themselves, through visits to the Cultural Quarter and to relevant local archives. The project also gave the group the opportunity contribute to the documentation of changes to the area, through recording their own reminisces, and through creative interpretation of the area. As part of the project we also worked with Bradgate Writers (a group targeting inpatients and outpatients with mental health issues of a severe and enduring nature). ‘Reading Leicester’s Cultural Quarter’ was a series of workshops facilitated by Mark, where participants used books, archival material, images and artworks (by the ArtSpace group), relating to the Cultural Quarter to inspire creative writing. The project’s findings were shared through the Visions of Histories exhibition at the West End Gallery, Leicester, in October 2015. The creative writing was shared through an on-line publication, The Mosaic Remains. A short advocacy film has also been created to showcase and celebrate the project, and an Evaluation Report written. The project has been enabled through a Sharing Heritage grant we received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It has also been funded by the Everybody’s Reading Festival, BrightSparks Arts in Mental Health, and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.