The Monthly discusses the Brilliant Resilience Project with Anne McCann

How did you get involved with the Brilliant Resilience Project?

This was something new for me in some ways, because my background is in preschool education and the techniques and theoretical approach that I learned as a teacher, particularly finding ways to allow people to explore what their creative interests are an artist friend of mine, Teresa Kane, thought would be useful in this project.

Where are you based?

I live in Trillick, a small town in Tyrone, and I have worked with groups here and elsewhere over many years. I have promoted learning through the arts all my life.

So the project interested you?

II was quite excited about the project because we were going to be working with people in vulnerable groups regarding Covid, and get them to experience various creative disciplines. I was working through the medium of Crochet.

Each week we would think through our experiences during the Pandemic, we might look at, for example handwashing; what that meant for our lives, how it would change certain aspects of our daily routines, and then once we had examined that idea or theme, we would look at ways of exploring that through crochet. We might look at producing wash cloths or dish cloths or something like that.

What else did you do?

With Crochet everything starts with the chain and in the beginning we were working towards creating words that meant something to the participants. I created a process where I designed a little scroll with a message of affirmation and we put those scrolls inside little crocheted hearts.

One lady came to me the next week and said that she had opened up the heart and the scroll had said, “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see” and she said that she had been caring for her husband for the last 18 months and he was deaf and blind. She was very touched by that message and I think that really said a lot about the project as the woman said she was going to put that message on her wall at home and she was going to work on the word, “kindness”.

Were there other things beyond Crochet that you worked with?

We would look at thinking about masks and how that made changes in our lives. Things like smiling were removed from us, and lines of communication were changing through the wearing of masks.

We repurposed jars for containing things throughout the house and so we were changing the way those objects were used; the objects were being subject to change as were our lives.

Did the participants find the process useful?

Yes absolutely. Now people were coming back into being together after 19 months of Lockdown, and were just starting to take tentative steps to being in a public space again, so there was some hesitation. But we worked through that and I thought people did really great, very creative, work.

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.