Growing a Collective kind of Creativity

As with all of Global Generation’s work, the team at Canada Water are on an ongoing learning journey. It's something we don't do on our own; we do it together. Thanks to funding from British Land each Friday over the last five months we have been able to be at the Printworks, making, growing, cooking and eating together. There’s a rhythm and a ritual to it, which has helped bring out common ground between us as a creative team. It has been a supportive environment in which to try new things, and practice the delicate art of setting intentions, laying down ground work, gathering tools and materials and then letting go and seeing what comes. Now we are fully rolling with our community workshop process, we are reaping the benefits of this. 

The Printworks Paper Garden is proving to be a really creative place to be, not just for the GG team but for the children and young people we work with. They and their teachers are learning to jump into the unknown and the results are joyful and explosive. This month we have worked with pupils from Compass and Bacons Secondary Schools, Surrey Docks Farm and St Joseph’s Catholic primary school.  In the space of a few hours, what they have created is way beyond what I could have imagined. Cardboard tables, stools, planters, archways, wild and fantastical cake stands and lamps are now filling what was once the spare parts store for the printing presses. 

I have learnt so much during this amazing experience. There is always a positive atmosphere. I have learnt how to make a stool and learnt a few tips and tricks about gardening, which before coming here I thought was boring but now I fully enjoy it. I have learnt three new words, transpiration, broadcast and germinate which I can apply to my life and one key value resilience, because even when things got hard I didn’t give up – Thank you !!! – Compass School Pupil, year 8 pupil

I have learnt new skills and discovered new talents I didn’t know I had. I enjoyed working with all the students and having the chance to explore outside the classroom. It was like a breath of fresh air - Miss Knight Compass School Teaching Assistant

At first glance, what's happening in the workshops may look quite random. It is, in fact, very carefully thought out. Sitting in the paper yurt, our visitors have helped us tell stories about the local area and about nature. In small and not so small ways the youngsters have recognised that they are all part of a very big, interconnected story that is still in the making. They have taken it seriously when we have said they are an important part of growing that story.  The atmosphere changes when young people close their eyes and imagine; when they share their experience of the forest. 

… The forest is natural, it’s life, it’s calm, it’s creative, it’s peaceful, it’s magical, there’s lots of nothing and nothing is a good thing. The forest makes me feel that everything is my family … the trees, the leaves and all of the creatures – Year 4 St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Pupils.

Often a school visit will begin with a tour of the press halls that churned out nearly two million papers a day. This last week, Tommy the Printworks building manager, had children enthralled with tales of the many films and music videos that are now produced in these huge spaces. Compared to the lure of glamour and celebrity, I wondered how our workshop would go down. I needn’t have worried ... At the end of the tour our young makers knocked on the roller-shutter door of the Paper Garden. Slowly it creaked open, revealing what lay beyond the threshold … there was a gasp of excitement. The children were ready for something new; ready to believe that they too had specialness inside them and that magic just might happen out of the piles of cardboard and paper rolls they saw in front of them. 

I loved that we were trusted, to make whatever we wanted and there was so much stuff to choose from – St Joseph’s School, year 6, pupil.

The Printworks paper garden is a wonderful and creative place to be where, we have been letting our imaginations run free – Bacons College, year 8, pupil.

I have felt the echoes of happiness from way down on the earth and I have seen plants grow and people too, growing together … I am the sun -  Bacons College year 8, pupil.

Many of the students in our school feel disconnected and resentful of the changes in Southwark – Global Generation is giving them the opportunity to take an active role in creating, moulding and taking ownership of their area and potentially their future. Garry Meehan – Teacher Compass School.