A kaleidoscopic new exhibition of works created entirely by islanders with learning disabilities is challenging perceptions in a bold celebration of creativity and friendship.
Jersey Mencap launched the ‘Taking Part Making Art’ project 12 years ago to give adults more variety and choice in activities.
With six sessions a week, covering textile work, sewing, painting and drawing, the project has helped many islanders get creative in the company of professional artists.
But now, for the first time ever, participants' work is going on display at the Jersey Museum's prestigious Link Gallery.
Alex Wiles, Manager, shared with Express why the project is so special...
We have four professional artists acting as tutors, two of them have been with us for many years, almost since the start actually. They work with the group as well as with the individuals. There is a wide range of abilities in the group, so the tutors work really hard to make sure each person is engaged, gets a reward from their work and tries something new.
We also have support workers and volunteers helping with the sessions. For our clients, like for us through work, it becomes something where they go in, there are people they know, they work together, it’s structured. We have seen some really nice friendships start as well.
The project is very much community-minded, so we’ve done lots of exhibition in the past.
We’ve done installations at music festivals and taken part in local competitions. Some of the work has been at CCA Galleries, at Liberation Station, Beresford Street Kitchen and we’ve also worked with local companies, like the Jersey Financial Services.
It’s a great way to raise awareness of learning disabilities and what people do. It’s something for our clients to be proud of, it’s very important for us.
We were invited by the museum to do an exhibition. They said they had seen some of the artwork and were very impressed. It was a really lovely call to get!
The exhibition is friendship-themed, which has a lot to do with what the art project offers. It’s about being part of something, communication, having fun, making friends, working together as well as your own, stretching your imagination, improving self-esteem and confidence.
The artwork was done by all groups and represents friendship in different ways. It’s vibrant, colourful and showcases what people with learning disabilities can do.
The exhibition is on display until 31 July at the Jersey Museum Link Gallery.
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