On the 5th of May 2021, over four weeks, four Vita Nova participants (Barbie, David, Jamie, Tawa) worked with contemporary British artist Mark David Lloyd producing artwork around the theme of Reawakening. This project was made possible by the Wessex Water Foundation grant. The work produced over the four sessions at Lloyd’s studio in Southbourne was then exhibited in a private view at Vita Nova on the 18th of June, before going public as part of BEAF festival at the end of June.
Vita Nova participants and friends came together the weekend before the private exhibition to create a gallery pop-up space at our headquarters. The exhibition was a great success. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the private view was ticketed via Eventbrite and donation-based. We raised over £70 for Vita Nova from donations for the exhibition private viewing, towards the cost of our display. We received outstanding feedback from attendees, and many expressed how moved they were by the artwork on display. In the lead up to the exhibition, participants Barbie and Jamie had both featured in radio interviews about the project, with Radio Solent, Forest FM, and Hope FM. Developing the exhibition has enabled participants to gain new insights into the world of contemporary art and discover skills they did not know they had.
Speaking about the impact of the project, artist Mark David Lloyd said: ‘It’s an opportunity to see that they can do things that they perhaps didn’t realise that they could. Creativity is a great way to process trauma as art therapy, even though what we’re doing is not art therapy’. The public exhibition connected with others in the recovery community, as well as the public, who can often harbour stigma around addition recovery. The exhibition was a way for participants to heal, share a part of themselves, and break taboos about recovery. Following the exhibition, other members of Vita Nova felt inspired and expressed interest in being involved.
Alongside Reawakening, we had two further pieces exhibiting as part of BEAF. Datta, a digital installation by artist Martin Coyne and Vita Nova downstairs at our studio, and an exhibition of a quilt created in response to lockdown.
‘Fantastic exhibition, very inspired by all the artists. Well done’.
‘From passion so much is possible. From a bomb crater grows a rose’.
‘Art that reached out from the soul. Thank you’.
‘Life affirming. Wonderful’.
Really inspiring installation. I’d love to see more of your projects soon’.
‘Inspirational exhibition. Barbie – you should apply to put your installation into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’.
‘Immersive! Great sound and visuals’. (Datta)
After the success of opening of Fourth Wall, the work produced over the four sessions at Lloyd’s studio in Southbourne was then exhibited in a private view at Vita Nova on the 18th of June,
These private views saw Reawakening, Datta, with a digital installation by artist Martin Coyne and Vita Nova downstairs at our studio, and an exhibition of a quilt created in response to lockdown.
Since the opening of the fourth wall gallery, we have held two more exhibitions:
David G Taylor: Electric Beard Wax Pop Art Exhibition
David has been a member of Vita Nova since 2018. Previously a journalist and fashion graduate, David begun making visual art after leaving treatment with Street Scene in 2018. Over lockdown, he started to develop his practice, and since has been blossoming into an independent freelance artist. Vita Nova first supported David by commissioning a series of post cards from him over lockdown and by enrolling David for the Mark David Lloyd workshops, giving him an opportunity to develop his work with the guidance of a professional artists. David has since developed an exciting portfolio of work, exhibited at several exhibitions in the Southwest, and has been selling his art locally. To celebrate and mark David’s progress, Vita Nova hosted a solo selling exhibition of David’s work. This gave David a final boost of confidence and solidified his progress as an independent working artist, as well as giving him the opportunity to sell his work. David sold almost all work on display. VN has been a major part in helping David kickstart his career as a freelance artist.
“The work in this exhibition was a celebration and promotion of the antidote to division – union. This phenomenon is the touchstone of our whole existence – from the atomic, to the molecular, to the cellular, to the bodily, to the social, to the political, to the cultural – the whole web of life is underpinned by union. It is only through union that life will be maintained and nurtured.
The four artists in this work come from broadly different social and cultural backgrounds but unite creatively in their shared humanity. The work produced investigates and articulates an inner and outer experience from deeply personal perspectives but also from shared experience”.
While in lockdown, Vita Nova produced a short film about addiction recovery in lockdown. The aim was to encourage those in recovery to stay safe and reach out for help whilst in difficult and isolating circumstances due to the pandemic. So far, the film has 330 views on YouTube and is being screened via Zoom in local treatment centres. The film has raised Vita Nova’s profile and helped people in recovery access our services.
‘Seeing the film encouraged me to join the group. Thank you ‘
Watch it here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGNdwF5GwyM
Supported by ASPIRE, Vita Nova has been commissioned for almost 5 months after a successful 6 week run of two classes ‘Make do and Mend’ and ‘Care for Yourself Drama’. These wonderful classes are open to everyone in the community, not just the recovery community.
This has been fantastic for members of the local community that are often isolated and want to meet new people and learn new skills. Together, they have created a beautifully sewn ‘Aspire’ banner, alongside upcycled products such as hand-made bags, learnt to stitch up old clothing and more. The drama group have been working on a short piece that will be performed in Churchill Gardens at a community event in the coming weeks. As the first 6 weeks were so telling of personal and collective development, we were delighted to be able to continue for a further 12 weeks as it has proven to be so helpful for local members of the Boscombe community.
“Really helped my confidence with talking in front of groups of people which I couldn’t do before”
“Helped my confidence, especially with the improvisation because it takes confidence to do.”
“A lovely place to meet new people and rekindle old friendships”.
Our crafts Markets are a new addition to the range of events that we hold at Vita Nova throughout the year in order to connect with and support the local community. Our Craft Markets are small and centred around helping to support local artists and small businesses.
Our table fees are low and budget friendly meaning that we can provide an opportunity for artists and businesses that would otherwise may not be able to exhibit and expose their work. This also means that they are able to connect with other local creators and members of the community, which is an important part of maintaining and growing as a small artist or business.
Our markets focus on sustainable, ethical, handmade creations. We avoid, where possible, the sale of single use plastics and materials that are not biodegradable or sustainable. We are passionate about showing people the importance of shopping small and supporting the creation of unique, eco-friendly goods.
Through these events we have not only been able to support local artists and businesses, but we have also been able to raise money to keep our charity afloat in order to continue with our vital work, helping vulnerable members of the community.
Following the success of our 2021 markets we are optimistic and excited for the year ahead, and the opportunities that we will be able to provide for even more creatives and the local community. We want to be known as a space of inclusivity and opportunity as this is central to our ethos at Vita Nova.
Keep up to date with us on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and right here on our website to see when we will be holding our next market and watch out for our application form for the opportunity to be a part of our craft market community.
We loved joining the Bournemouth pride march in the summer of 2021!