Amateo: Connect creatively Back

Amateo: Connect creatively

Amateo’s project ‘Postcards from Home’ uses the simple device of exchanging on postcards what home, what place means to each of us, at a time when many have lived in isolation in recent months. This is a rich means of sharing our commonality while recognising our diversity. Amateo’s project spans the generations. The relevance of bridging generations is now more relevant than ever as Coronavirus widened generational divides.

Postcards from Home will use a mixture of digital and offline exchanges and gatherings to engage with participants. All of them will share differing experiences of place across Europe, creating positive connections to the local environment and the world beyond.

We interviewed Claire Sharples, one of the Pioneer Projects team, working with the Creative Europe funded AMATEO network via Voluntary Arts, a UK based member of the network that works to support creative participation throughout the UK and Ireland, and connect across borders.

Claire touches on what made them think of their project, how their project adapted due to COVID and the necessity of the project.

Connect creatively

We were planning to host a CONNECT event, including both an ‘organisers’ exchange and development programme and parallel ‘participants’ creative workshops, in Brussels in March 2020, just as the first lockdown began across Europe. While our programme for cultural organisers was rescheduled and held online, the creative programme did not go ahead. We reflected that it was the interpersonal, social connection that was missing within a more concentrated digital programme, particularly for amateur rather than professional creative practitioners. The Postcards from Home project came about as a result of that.

We wanted to offer a way to connect creatively – and to ‘travel’ – within the limitations and uncertainties we all faced, without adding to the pressures and demands that many people are dealing with as a result of the pandemic. For those that want to be part of all aspects of the postcard exchange, creative workshops and final live sharing event planned for June 2021, that is possible, but people can equally join the element that interests and is most accessible them – and at a time that is convenient (the recordings are available for those that cannot make the time – or time-zone!).

It is so easy to become insular and feel isolated currently. We hope that the project can be a way to raise our gaze, look differently at our own environments and remember the varied and shared experiences that continue just beyond our physical reach.

Piece created in Portrait workshop

Postcards from Home contributing to Europe post-corona

Like many networks, while the pandemic has placed restrictions on our usual activities, it has also connected us to individuals and groups that we wouldn’t ordinarily have encountered.

The project celebrates our plurality. We have had interest from across the world – diaspora communities in America and Australasia who want to participate in the traditional Lithuanian crafts that were part of the workshop programme, across the Indian sub-continent, particularly as part of the miniature painting session – and of course, throughout Europe. The project looks back and forward and recognises how interconnected our lives are and continue to be despite current measures and geographic distance.

Those new links, and the archive of creative content, will continue beyond the project to celebrate our diversity, resilience and connection.

Piece created in Picture Sonnets workshop

Growing exchanges from local to pan European

We have already seen how initially local connections brought people to take part and how the differing workshops have brought different groups together as the project has gathered momentum. We were pleased to see how our existing network got involved in the planning stages, to contribute translations of our project invitation, resulting in 22 translations, including minority languages.

The postcard exchanges are taking place from Ireland and Scotland to Greece and Bulgaria. The opening workshops in Ireland and links with the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, in Lithuania, near Kaunas (Capital of Culture 2022), from the Netherlands, and the UK, will conclude in Slovenia.

We are also sharing with other projects exploring similar formats and themes, to continue growing this exchange of ideas and experiences.

Making Europe an open and shared public space for everyone

While we know we can not be exhaustive in representing all the diversity that Europe holds; the project is about individual experience. It aims to offer and encourage a multitude of ways to express that. Our final presentation will try to capture and share snapshots of that diversity, without erasing or reducing it to a singular story.

English has been the main language of communication, but artistic languages and visual presentation complement and offer alternative ways of communicating experience – and the techniques that have been shared to inspire individual creativity. We have also provided access support for anyone who has requested it and aimed to be inclusive and respectful of people’s differing needs and boundaries.

Scroll through the image gallery below to have a look at some postcards that have been produced as part of the postcard exchange and workshop sessions:

Granted: € 9975