BlogCommentaryShadow Play: Bringing people together through light and art

Shadow Play: Bringing people together through light and art


This Summer, we were excited to collaborate with artist Frances Arnold for Shadow Play, a project aiming to bring light into our community through art. Fran responded to the theme by creating playful activities for children at Hotspur Primary, members of our Painting for Fun class and visitors to Heaton Festival, where participants used light and shadow to explore their use of public space. Images created in these sessions were transformed by Fran into a paper and light installation reflecting the people that helped make it and bringing the life of the community into the gallery.

The different elements of the project had varied outcomes, and the flexibility of the activity helped us to fulfill our aims for each. We were pleased to provide a creative activity exploring light at Heaton Festival, run by a group of local churches aiming to bless the community. This was primarily about raising the profile of The Holy Biscuit as interactions with members of the public were engaging but short-lived, allowing us to sign-post many of the festival visitors to the work we do. Festival organisers were pleased to see the park animated in an ‘enchanting and wonderfully simple way,’ and we hope this is a partnership we can develop in the future.

“It is always a joy and a pleasure to have The Holy Biscuit involved in Heaton Festival, as a local Christian organisation who understand the desire to bless the community” 

Hannah Clarke-Stamp, Festival Director

The Painting for Fun session had a very different feel. As members of the group were already engaged with The Holy Biscuit, we were keen to use a more in-depth workshop to build on this existing sense of community. By beginning with a lunch, we were able to get to know the participants and establish a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The activities encouraged the group to have creative fun and develop their skills, whilst complimenting their usual painting activities. Kim Todd, the coordinator of the group, said that she had never heard them laugh so loudly, and it was a great afternoon for everyone involved! Throughout the year we have been encouraging group members to take part in projects outside of their usual sessions, and Shadow Play has been a great opportunity to continue this. The way we have seen them develop creatively and embrace new experiences clearly demonstrates the value of the arts in helping people to grow in confidence, and the role the Church can play in supporting this.

“They were laughing so much and having so much fun. They still talk about that day! It was good to see friendships deepened and new ones being made.”

Kim Todd, P4F Co-ordinator

We also enjoyed a visit to classes at Hotspur Primary. Unfortunately, rain stopped ‘Shadow Play’ on the  day, but we had just as much fun drawing and creating silhouettes inside! It has been a fantastic experience working with Fran over the past few months, and Shadow Play has provided a platform on which to build future projects exploring ideas of purpose, belonging and belief through creativity. In doing this we continue to fulfill our long term vision to help increase the Methodist Church’s profile in engaging with the Arts and the Community.

“The project has furthered my ideas about the role drawing can take in public art – both as a means to engage people in the arts and challenge our preconceived notions of how we use public space. The project engaged various community groups with the arts activity and The Holy Biscuit. I think there is a lot of scope to develop the ideas from this project into a long term vision for THB’s engagement with local community groups.”

Frances Arnold, Lead Artist

Amy Warmington, Events & Outreach Manager
The Holy Biscuit


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