A NEW display of drawings, photos and poetry is on display in Southend High Street, designed by more than 100 residents.

The Focal Point Gallery worked on the display with residents during 2020 on the theme of ‘Imagining a New Future’.

The project has been given £163,096 in support from the England European Regional Development Fund.

Residents were invited to tell their story of activities or new experiences during the first lockdown, and to submit ideas for imagining a new positive future for Southend.

The artworks are outside in the open air in Focal Point Gallery’s (FPG) Window Gallery at The Forum and on the Big Screen Southend until May 2.

In July last year, the gallery commissioned three artists, Josephine Melville, Scotty Brave and Laurence Harding, to make an activity pack that inspired and encouraged people of the town to try out new creative skills, inform about their experiences during lockdown and to submit ideas for imagining a new positive future for Southend. 

Katharine Stout, director for Focal Point Gallery, said: “We received over 100 drawings, photos, written text and video, submitted by individuals, family groups and schools.

"The theme was interpreted with ideas about the environment, health, wealth and structural inequalities. Many were inspired by the peaceful protest of Black Lives Matter in Southend and to the growing awareness of the Climate Emergency.

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“Students in formal and informal educational settings, including those undertaking their Arts Award at FPG, were able to use the packs as a focus for their projects and to build confidence in resuming their artistic pathways after the first long break.

"We worked with council colleagues in Children’s Care to send out to young people across Southend, and with the help of South Essex Homes to distribute the packs to self-isolating residents.

"On returning in September last year, schools, including Chase High and Cedar Hall Special School, took up the opportunity to re-engage with their creativity, show their talent and voice concerns."

Scott Dolling, director for culture and tourism for Southend Council, said: “Focal Point Gallery have been instrumental in providing innovative and creative sessions and projects to keep residents, families and children occupied during what has been an incredibly challenging time for us all.

“The latest exhibition will provide an insight into what our residents imagine to be a new, positive future for Southend. Anyone visiting the town centre should take some time to view the various pieces dotted across the High Street.”