Building an artistic community: Blooming Brushes

Group photo of participants in Blooming Brushes programme at the exhibition, in a floral frame

Students share their experience of the Blooming Brushes programme, which consisted of five sessions guided by local artists, sharing their technical expertise through demonstrations, workshops, and thought-provoking creative activities.

Bella and Abigail are two international postgraduate students working as Residential Life Assistants in the College and Community Life team. Both feel strongly about the importance of belonging, connection, and creativity in the University. To nurture these qualities in the aftermath of the pandemic, they devised the Blooming Brushes art programme.

Blooming Brushes consisted of five workshops for students which were themed and guided by local artists, sharing their technical expertise through demonstrations, workshops, and thought-provoking creative activities.

The project was funded by Kent County Council’s ‘Covid-19 Local Recovery Fund’, with extra funding from the Student Services department here at the University.

Demand to join the programme was high, and the students selected to take part came from across the University to form an enthusiastic, motivated group.

With each workshop the confidence and skills of those within the programme grew and flourished. The work created across the sessions resulted in an exciting collection, with a range of media, styles, and perspectives.

The final exhibition, in Eliot College Hall, displayed the artistic journey of each student involved and brought together a visual experience showcasing their unique takes on the topic of ‘Community’.

Below are a selection of quotes from participants, and photos from the exhibition:

“Blooming Brushes has really been a calming space for me – I am very grateful to have been a part of it.”

Wide-view photo of art exhibition in a hall with visitors.

“This programme has helped me forge new connections with people I never would have met otherwise.”

Two students arranging their artworks on tables.

“I found community, but I also found another piece of myself. The Blooming Brushes programme has been the best goodbye gift, and an experience I will always cherish.”

Two people standing in a picture frame with flowers.

“While I am painting, I can see myself overcoming the self-doubt and the perfectionism I have in daily life. Joining this programme and learning from the fantastic artists helped me find myself painting in a new way and more freely.”

Written by Fiona Simpson and Joshua Stevens, Student Services, 24.06.22

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