MY INSPIRATION: Bridget Hamilton | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Following our article about Gateshead community organisation Dingy Butterflies’ activity booklets created by local artists, 10×10 Creative Gateshead artist, writer and podcaster Bridget Hamilton talks about her involvement in the project

Back in early March, when lockdown was looking more and more likely, I remember laughing at a Tweet that said ‘self-isolating sounds dangerously similar to being a writer’. The hours of excluding yourself from the outside world, enjoying your own company, and venturing out only for snacks sounded familiar to a lot of us…however, four months down the line, I’ve realised how much creative energy I draw from the young people and other artists I work with. And so, in these ‘unprecedented times’, I’ve had to find inspiration in more unlikely places.

I worked on the 10×10 Creative Gateshead project with ten other artists, who were each paired with a local community organisation. Between us, we have made two activity booklets – one for adults, and one for young people – to boost their wellbeing and encourage them to keep creating during the Covid-19 pandemic. The printed booklets, complete with art materials, have been distributed to those with little to no access to digital technology – but there’s also a downloadable version for anybody to use. Each activity has been created for the people of Gateshead, inspired by places and buildings in the area, and through conversations with residents and local organisations – but they will appeal to and inspire people regardless of where they live.

I’ve been weaving the images and themes of nature into my writing for a couple of years now. It all started when I wrote my Dad’s memoir, The Landscape Gardener, which charts the story of his life through the trees and wildflowers found in the places that shaped him. It dawned on me then how much of a difference being outside makes to my own wellbeing, how much I love pointing out different flowers and plants to people, how mindful it is to be fully immersed in nature. And I’m not just talking about expensive tropical retreats or trips to National Trust properties – I mean sitting in Saltwell Park or even just on your front doorstep, listening to birdsong mingling with the 5pm traffic.

My nature writing activity sits in the 10×10 Creative Gateshead booklets alongside other fantastic tutorials for things like origami, zine making, puppetry and lots more. At a time when the days seem to run into one another, sitting down at your kitchen table, either by yourself or with family, and doing something with your hands and a few simple household items is more important than ever. Having said that, I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t been all that creative during lockdown. I’ve kept my head above water, eaten copious amounts of custard creams and tried – often unsuccessfully – to write the occasional poem. But this process is all about being kind to yourself, too.

Looking for some inspiration of your own? Here are some writing prompts exclusively for you lovely NARC. readers:

  • Write the lineup for your ultimate outdoor festival. Decide on your stages, which artists play on which stage, and what else is on offer (Salsa dancing? Hot yoga?…)
  • Write yourself a postcard from your favourite holiday destination. Try to mention one thing you’ve smelt, one thing you’ve tasted, one thing you’ve seen and one thing you’ve heard.
  • Take yourself to South Shields, Tynemouth, Whitley Bay etc. and spend two minutes writing down all the words and phrases you associate with the North East coastline. Don’t censor yourself – just note whatever comes to mind.
  • Write a love letter to something, or someone, you have been missing during lockdown, whether that’s live music, your gran, or a cappuccino at Flat Caps Coffee.

Download the 10×10 Creative Gateshead booklets

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