If you could create anything at all, how would you make your mark on your town?
This is the question asked by Wigan-based artist, Jess Rotherham, who is calling for her whole community to explore their artistic flair as part of a new visual project.
Jess, 25, is one of eight artists-in-residence as part of Wigan Council’s Imago programme and is leading on the project ‘Ideas for a town’, which encourages the local community to take ownership of the places that they live through art.
Members of the public can sculpt, draw or write about their ideas before handing them into their local library or taking a photograph and uploading to the project blog. All submissions will then be included in Jess’ open exhibition from 10th March in Wigan Library.
Speaking about the project, Jess said: “I am really keen to work with people across Wigan Borough and with people who don’t necessarily engage with art on a daily basis.
“The sky is the limit! A lot of people have great ideas for public artworks and places and this project is all about creating a platform for those people to express themselves. Ideas don’t have to make sense and they don’t have to be realistic – I just want to give everybody the opportunity to be an artist. I’m excited for what will be an eclectic exhibition that has been contributed to by the whole community regardless of age, gender or background.”
Sculpture packs can be picked up from the Grand Arcade or Wigan Library’s mezzanine, which have all the materials needed including a backdrop, clay and figurines.
There have been more than 60 submissions so far with ideas such as a tower of pies, a brick maze and even a spaceship.
Donna Hall, chief executive at Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead member for arts and culture said: “The Imago Artist in Residence programme is a fantastic opportunity giving talented people a platform to engage with our communities, highlighting the fun and creativity that comes with arts and culture.
“Our artists-in-residence are very committed to working with local people and we’re very excited to watch their projects develop. We encourage residents to find out more as each artist has a completely different approach to their work.”
Jess also has a studio at The Old Courts, Wigan, where she explores ongoing ideas that can last a lifetime such as her ambitious ‘5416 Mammal Hearts’ project, which focuses on sculpting the heart of every individual mammal in the world.
For those who would like to work with Jess directly on their submission, there will be a free drop-in workshop on Monday 19th February suitable for all ages at the Museum of Wigan Life, 11am – 12.30pm.
Alternatively, visit the project blog for more information or to submit your ideas.