Artist's Introduction To Reciprocate

"Reciprocate" has been an ongoing project exploring giving and reciprocation within different communities. I (Socially Engaged Artist Beth Barlow) have been lucky enough to find co-creators who have explored the ideas along with me. Thus far it has manifest in four different places. 1 Through Project Shed in Salford 2 Through a rural youth club and residential home in Cuddington, Cheshire 3 Through "Gifting Days" in Northwich, Cheshire 4 Through "Beautiful Things" with Manchester Metropolitan University, Populate, Chester and VAC gallery Northwich.  The work has explored how giving ties community together and our modern scepticism about giving which sometimes stops us asking for or offering help. It has looked at how both the giver and the reciever often get something positive from each transaction and explored the relationships between each role. Along the way we have uncovered lots of surprising things and had deep discussions with adults a

Gifting Days, Northwich

  Issues: The rising mountains of waste which isn't welcomed by charity shops and ends up with the rag and bone man and beyond in land fill or floating free in the environment. Sat with the need in the community for free things to make their lives more comfortable. The disconnected community where nothing is really free. People without transport not being able to dispose of things they no longer need or want.  A need to question exsisting economy. Actions: To collect unwanted items or give people a secure place to drop the items, to present the items as free gifts at a central location, to refuse any money or donations and to talk to people about this. To take the really worn out or obsolete items, apply imagination and turn them into new lovely objects. Uses: To grow community conversations about money, gifts and exchange. To grow a sense of connection.  To cut down the amount of waste leaking out of your community. To teach and learn new repurposing skills. Discussions:  1 If som

Beautiful Things

Issues: The neglect and abandonment of objects which become harmful waste. The production of new objects when old ones could be given new value and prestige.   The lack of value in every day objects resulting in the quest for the novel and new and the affect this has on our lives and the planet. The short cut side of money transactions which take away the need for connection. Actions: To take objects found in charity shops, car boots, bins and abandoned in other places and offer them as an artists box and collection of digital prints inspired by the object. The boxes are swaped for a pledge stating what the receiver will  do with the box. The prints are available for sale. Uses: To give a series of soon to be disposed of objects a new life. To explore how difficult people find it to do transactions without money. Discussion points:  1 Does the artist have the ability to highlight beautiful things which would otherwise be passed by? Should this be part of an artists role? 2  What does

Cuddington Between Generations

  Issues: Livng in a small village on a housing estate it was easy for the young residents to gain a bad reputation and grow tensions amoungst themselves and the older residents. The young people give to each other but don't often get the chance to give to others. They like to draw but aren't so good with paint.   Up the road from them there is a group of elderly people who live in a residential home. Sometimes they are a bit lonely and want something to do. They like to paint but find it hard to see to draw Actions: Create canvas line drawings with the young people at the youth club. With some of the young people package up the canvas with paints and everything needed to complete the paintings. Take the gifts to the older people. Accept back any painting they complete and would like to gift back. Uses: Taking two communities who would normally never come into contact, explore their respective talents and struggles. Working out how each set of talents can help with the oth

Project Shed

  Issues:  Communities where outside eyes see nothing of worth and the self esteme of the community suffers. Highlighting the many acts of kindness and giving which keep down trodden communities on their feet and learning lessons from them. Helping people ask for help without feeling little and giving people a sense that they can help others. Actions: Take note through "Goodness Spies" where community members note acts of kindness each week and feed these back to the group. Memorialising these acts of kindness in ways specific to your groups talents. We created stained glass windows telling the stories of gifted flapjack, voice recordings which played from community bird boxes and sewn text cushions.  Create opportunities for more giving and receiving. We staged clothes and story swap days,  jacobs tables, wild flower seed bombs, allotment produce processing into smoothies and jams, and gift cards which offered the barer a voucher for a task. We hosted the results in a shed g