Fragments of Society was created for permanent installation at Dartington LandWorks – a work-based scheme which provides practical and social skills for prisoners and ex-prisoners, to help with future employment and to build trusting relationships within the local community. The ethos of the project, working with one of the most under represented fractions of society, became integral to the work, which was created with the trainees on site.
The concept for Fragments of Society developed from a questioning of a capitalist agenda driven by progress, success, and financial security, which seems to produce a fragmented, competitive, and segmented society. This contrasts the way honey bees have an incredible system whereby they can switch roles instantly to meet the needs of the hive – a single bee can gather food, nurse the young, defend the hive, and build honeycomb. The notion that we are better if we support each other in society is one which resonated with the LandWorks scheme, and after a meeting with manager Chris it was decided that the sculpture could be created on site with the help of trainees – it is now a permanent feature of the gardens.
The modular and replaceable construction method means trainees were able to help construct the piece, allowing them to gain confidence, while building trust trough conversations which happen throughout the day. Bringing this concept onto the site, and allowing trainees to be a part of its construction, has enabled an articulation of a core issue in our society.
Furthermore, the LandWorks scheme resonates with my own beliefs that creativity should be situated in the everyday, accessible to all regardless of the social environment we are born into.
A special thanks to Lee for his help with preparing the pipe and constructing the sculpture, and to Chris Parsons for his invaluable support throughout.
Thanks to start-up funding from Plymouth University, support from LandWorks, and just-this-minute-confirmed Arts Council England funding (65% – 14.5k), I will be collaborating with LandWorks on a project which will actively improve prisoners and ex-prisoners chances of gaining employment, while building trusting relationships within the local community by:
- Teaching and developing practical skills in dry stone walling, cob-walling, carpentry, landscaping, construction work, and horticulture.
- Inviting the local community closer to the LandWorks project by creating an interactive visitors space.
- Building trainees self-worth by fulfilling the need to create something they are proud of, sharing ownership of the work.
- Improving trainee’s social skills by working collaboratively with a range of skilled professionals, volunteers, and artists.