Art transforms lives
Last month saw World Community Arts Day being celebrated as you might expect, by professional artists and first time dabblers from around the world. All good stuff and noteworthy in its own right, but the community that came up with the idea in the first place is right here in Scotland. The Craigmillar estate, sitting on the east side of Edinburgh, has seen many ‘regeneration programmes’ come and go but the Craigmillar Festival Society and the transformative power of art to change people lives has been a constant theme throughout.
Andrew Crummy, community artist and designer of The Great Tapestry of Scotland, reflects on his upbringing in Craigmillar.
I was born in Craigmillar and grew up experiencing The Craigmillar Festival Society, as my mother, Helen Crummy, was the organising secretary. In my mid-thirties I began to realise that this childhood experience was influencing my work as a muralist. Namely that often the production of your own creativity is not what is always required and that creating platforms for others to get involved is more important. That Art is often a catalyst in a community or public setting to deal with other issues in a positive manner. I began to realise that Community Arts has a valid role to play and the Craigmillar Festival Society was important because of how it used Art in its broadest sense.
In 1995, my father had recently passed away and to get my mother, Helen Crummy, to think about something else I suggested that she write an article about Communiversity. In her usual positive style she got it published a few months later. attracting interesting from all over the UK. And so was born the Craigmillar Communiversity. Up until her death in 2011, we hosted several conferences, had a major exhibition in Edinburgh City Art Gallery, published several books and CDs, help create a Art workshops in craigmillar (funded through Napier College), help create an award winning short documentary by Plum Films and started World Community Arts Day. It was very much a vehicle for her to express and develop her ideas. Although it has clearly influenced my own art.
Through World Community Arts Day, which we started in 2007, we began to show that many different versions are thriving around the world. Community Arts is very much alive and kicking. In March 2014 a sculpture to Helen Crummy and The Craigmillar Festival Society was unvielled in Craigmillar.