Developing the creative environment with Create artist Jack Cornell

This week, our artist Jack Cornell is working alongside young people attending Sutton Carers Centre’s Young Carers Service as part of our half term inspired:arts programme. Exploring animation with the carers across the week, the group will produce their own original short films. Jack talked to us about the importance of creative interaction – particularly with young people – within his artistic practice, and the value of the participatory arts.         

“As a practicing artist, my multi-disciplinary approach draws heavily upon my engagement and collaboration in creative workshops with arts and educational institutions. Much of my experience in working alongside young people within these contexts has served as influence for my own studio practice. Recently I’ve been attempting to explore critically our relationship with technology and how a lack of tactile learning ultimately changes our understanding of the world around us.

“Over the last six years, I’ve witnessed the slow eradication of art from the school curriculum. We are seemingly forgetting that creative expression – drawing, painting, mark making – are some of our most primitive and instinctive languages as human beings. But we are all creative in our own ways. Harnessing this creativity, especially through interaction with others, is how so many of us educate ourselves and continue to learn and develop. This self-development is why the participatory arts can be so important for everyone.

“Working with young carers through Create projects is an environment where creativity is encouraged and becomes the means for personal and collective development. These are young people whose lives often revolve around selfless routines and for many there is rarely time to invest in their own interests. Taking part in activities, or even spending time with friends, outside their caring responsibilities can be hard. Create workshops enable young carers to develop ways of expressing themselves through creative means, which they are not always used to doing. Engaging socially through art provides a chance for the young carers to develop new friendships and collaborate alongside other people who have similar lives: people who can empathise with one another on a more personal level.

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“As an artist with Create, I’ve had the chance to work in areas across the UK with very diverse demographics, which has been a fantastic experience. Working alongside young carers has really opened my eyes – I learn new things from them every day. Developing workshops and collaborating with people to make art is a two-way relationship and as the facilitator of a project it’s really important for me that those I’m working with can take ownership over the creative direction. This way, you can never dictate or predict the outcome. 

“I try and make my workshops as exciting as possible, continually striving to keep things engaging. Animation is an artform I use a lot in workshops: I find it an incredible way of investigating complex subjects and the way in which we interpret the world around us.  

“Hearing positive feedback from young carers on the projects is always an amazing feeling. As long as they have had fun and feel inspired, I know that the workshops have been worthwhile. When it comes to sharing their work with family, friends and staff at the project’s end, there is this real buzz. It’s evident how proud they are of what they have achieved in such a short time.   

“At the early stages of an animation project I was working on in Bath, one girl in particular was shy and lacking in confidence. By the third day, it was as if she was a different person and she was completely in awe of the creative environment that we had all made. In the final session, when the carers’ parents had come to see the work they had all produced, she approached me to say that she was going to get a copy of the software we had used within the workshops so she could continue building and creating digital animations at home. I found out that she’d written in the evaluation form that she’d learned more in the workshops than she had at school. For me, that really stuck in my head. It’s moments like those that give you a real drive and excitement.”