Inspirations for Encounter

AegisToday we begin fundraising for an exciting new research and development project Encounter. We have a shared interest, originating in our combined arts and research practices, in exploring transitional spaces for adolescents, particularly for those who are vulnerable or marginalised in their social and school environments. We draw on our combined interests and passions for working with young people to begin this investigation with the working question:

How can we create transitional spaces by using the arts with vulnerable young people?

Our Starting Points

Alex McIntyre’s interest in transitional space is informed by her exploration of sculpture, exhibition curation and participatory arts practice. The production and viewing of sculpture in particular is seen as a process in which the subject is consciously embodied and so routed in present experience. Her current work as a practitioner with Art for Change, a creative learning project in collaboration with Watford Palace Theatre and three schools in Watford, demonstrates engagement with the use of creative processes to enable expression, conversation and transformation. The project uses the arts as a means to de-stigmatise mental health and to provoke discussion amongst young people across the schools. Her observation and reflection on conversations with young people and teachers regarding the challenges of discussing mental health has revealed ways in which the use of the arts might help us understand, re-imagine, and so change, responses to mental illness. Alex’s participatory practice has evolved through previous work producing sculptural installations and exhibitions, which aimed to engage the viewer in moments of interaction and response.   Visitors were invited to construct their journey within an exhibition space by reacting creatively to sculptures and written stimuli.

Martin Heaney is completing a PhD, which explores theatre in relation to ideas of transitional spaces of the male adolescent. He is particularly interested in exploring testing Donald Winnicott’s ideas of transitional space, that the event of inner transition is made possible only in relation to ‘the outside world of people, environments and events’ and exploring the arts in relation to Massumi’s ideas of ‘emergent’ transitional space where identities are played with and rehearsed.

Together, we wish to investigate how we can construct a dynamic transitional space for young people that has, in its construction, multiple dimensions of relational care, art-making, sensory engagement and productivity.

Brent Museum and archives lr2 Our Context

We are responding to the increasing presence of mental health issues for young people in Hertfordshire. One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 nationally have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems[1]. Research data of the Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto 2014-2015 indicates that the overall majority of young people in Hertfordshire may not know how to keep themselves emotionally and mentally well. It also identifies a lack of funding for CAMHS in Hertfordshire, which means that many young people are waiting up to 6 months between an initial meeting and regular professional support.[2]

Our Objective

Through our research, we want to create a model of practice and research findings that we will share with other agencies. Through the exhibition, seminar and conference contributions we have planned, we aim to create a unique resource for Hertfordshire agencies to develop imaginative new pathways for young people to engage with the arts and increase their emotional wellbeing.

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[1] Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012, Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays

[2] Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto.


HertsCreation Autumn Newsletter 2013


It’s been an exciting year so far for HertsCreation! We began life as a Community Interest Company in October 2012 with a busy period of funding applications and meetings across the county with organisations in the voluntary and local government sectors.

Although the funding climate remains challenging, one striking feature across the Herts landscape is the growing number of networks and hubs for arts and cultural activity, including the Hertfordshire Arts Partnership and support of Royal Opera House (ROH) Bridge.  We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of doors that were opened for us by different individuals and groups with a vision for the arts. We are fortunate that these conversations are now helping us build a strong programme of activity this autumn. So what are we up to?

June 20, YCA Launch Event, , Royal Opera House

Our Activities in 2013 Continue reading

Herts YCA Programme – the next chapter

A while ago Martin referred to starting up a community interest company as a little like jumping out of a plane and making the parachute on your way down.  Well – now we have a team of sky divers with us and, like skydiving (I can only imagine here) – it is exhilarating!

Establishing relationships

We met our YCA Lead Teachers again on May 10th at Welwyn Garden City Library.   Emma Betts, Programme Manager ROH Bridge, and our evaluator Hannah Wilcox also joined us.  It was a fruitful morning as everyone arrived excited and raring to get going.  First we explored the YCA role – the tasks that might be undertaken, the skills and qualities needed,  who we might want to recruit to the programme, and how.  Together, we asked  how the YCAs might be supported in their role, where there was space for them to lead and how they might drive the programme – both online and off, in the schools and across the wider communities.

Next we got cracking Continue reading

OUR STORY part 2: Fail Again, Fail Better… Fly

Jumping out of a plane

Starting up a social enterprise is frequently compared to jumping out of a plane and making a parachute on the way down. Six months into the start-up of a Community Interest Company, HertsCreation, it feels appropriate to examine the heady mix of highs and disappointments that has accompanied our six-month existence and draw some lessons from it. We are going into 2013 with an exciting project, a pilot Youth Cultural Ambassador (YCA) Scheme with strong partners: the Royal Opera House Bridge and the Wroxham and Sir John Lawes Teaching Alliances. While we are looking forward to new relationships and revitalising old ones, there has also been learning for us in the experiment of setting up a new venture Continue reading