Re-storing refuse to put the re-tale into retail
The RBSA Gallery is working with Sense on an exciting collaborative project called Making Together. The project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. One element of the project is called #ReStore. Ha (artists Rob Hamp and Andrea Hannon) left art bins with Sense charity shops from across the Midlands to gather donations from the public. All manner of items were donated, ranging from strips of fabric to broken nutcrackers! The shop teams labelled each item with notes and stories from the people donating them before Ha transported the bins to Sense TouchBase Pears. Here, they have been working with Sense art-maker, Stuart, to help him select and transform the donations into artworks for display across the shops and at Sense TouchBase Pears.
Behind the scenes – personal stories from the shop floor
One aspect of #ReStore that Ha have found fascinating is the masses of work that goes on behind the scenes at the Sense charity shops. Therefore, we spoke to Daisy (Assistant Manager at Sense Worcester) about her involvement in the project…
What do you enjoy about working in the Sense Worcester shop?
The main thing I enjoy working in Sense Retail is the variety – every day is different. You can spend the day with customers and engaging with the community through fundraising events. Then you can be sorting, researching, and valuing donations. Next you could be steaming clothing, cleaning, or finding locations for collection pots. Every day I get to work with a fantastic Manager and team of volunteers who work incredibly hard and I know their efforts support an amazing charity.
How did you become interested in art?
My personal connection with art has been there for as long as I can remember. However, when asked in the first year of my fine art Degree “What is important to you?” I realised that I was mainly focused on my younger brother reaching his full potential. My brother had Downs Syndrome, profound learning difficulties, and complex communication needs. My brother is one of the many reasons the great work Sense does is so important to me. Because of my brother, my artwork and interest in art changed. I began to create and curate artwork designed to be multi-sensory, interactive, and accessible to everyone – including people with complex needs.
How have you found the experience of taking part in the #ReStore shop project?
Being part of the #ReStore project has been a privilege. We were lucky at Worcester to be one of the shops with an art wheelie bin, which we had great fun decorating. We’ve received some interesting stories and items from our customers, and it has been fascinating for me to find items that are incomplete. I’ve already been looking at photographs from the first workshop between Stuart and Rob trying to spot items that have come from our shop. It’s great having West Midlands Retail working with Rob and Andrea on the project. They are passionate about raising awareness of Sense and all the hard work that goes into the shops. Their online Ha blog also highlights our work and we have been sharing the articles across our West Midlands Facebook pages.
Why do you think making art for everyone is important?
I feel the importance is highlighted in the Sense Strategy: “Our vision is a world where no one, no matter how complex their disabilities, is left out isolated or unable to fulfil their potential.” Making activities such as the arts more accessible means everyone can have the opportunity to experience everything life has to offer.
What are you looking forward to seeing as the #ReStore project progresses?
I am looking forward to seeing what Stuart and Rob create next, the way in which they put objects together, plus finding out all the stories from the public about the objects they donated. I am excited to work further on gaining more awareness about #ReStore and Sense. I will also be helping to curate the exhibition at Sense TouchBase Pears with Rob and Andrea, which is another opportunity to bring Sense Retail into the project and a fantastic opportunity for me too.
Don’t miss the exhibition!
An update about the work being made by Stuart and Ha will be dispatched to Sense charity shops in Kingstanding Worcester, Kidderminster 2, and west Bromwich later this year. There will also be a large-scale installation of the art bins, artworks created, and remaining donated items on display at Sense TouchBase Pears, 27 January – 10 March 2020.
Find out more!
See what Daisy is up to at Sense Worcester by checking their Facebook page here. You can view the full list of Sense charity shops here. Don’t forget to send them your donations next time you have a clear out – they are always in need of good stock.
Learn more about how Sense help and support people living with complex disabilities by visiting their website here.