As part of The Vision Project we took time to talk to our wonderful participants. In this series which we have called PEOPLE OF VISION, we explore how they came to join in with The Vision Project and what they have taken away from it.
This time we talk to Ann Fenton, who has taken part in many of the workshops and events and has been kind enough to share her experiences.
People of Vision - Ann Fenton
1. What made you get involved in the Vision Project events and workshops?
Having done so much in the A to Z Creative Challenge in Lockdown, this seemed another way to try new things and continue to support First Dance Studios in the process.
The lockdown in 2021 was hard for many of us and thanks to Emma Brewer who won two awards from Bayfields for her community work putting on the A-Z Challenge, these fun creative projects evolved into an Arts Council England funded piece.
2. What has the singing part been like and what has it meant to you?
Because I sing in Epworth Choir, I was delighted to be able to take part in something new. A little daunting at first being in a smaller group of singers and then finally at the recording having a microphone in front of you was a bit scary. But we knew it would all be mixed and blended to make a good sound. Very proud to actually be on the song that we are now dancing to and it increased my singing confidence too!
Many of our singers had varied singing experience and for most of them recording in a studio was very much out of their comfort zone. However they all worked together thanks to the amazing leadership from Liz Ikamba and we all agree the music is perfection!
3. What has the Clay part been like and what did you learn from it?
I have not touched clay since an evening class at about aged 17/18! It is a lovely feeling to work with clay, I and what I learned was that one should be brave enough to start again if you are not happy with the piece you have been creating! Day two will tell me if I continue with my piece or not!
Clay is a wonderful medium and Jo Alam as the art therapist really got the participants to grips with the earthy realness of clay. One participant said she loved the feel of the clay, something that she hadn't realised she missed since a child.
4. And you also took part in the acrylic workshop - how was that?
A very new area for me and I found it hard to try and interpret the project song (much easier to paint something definite like a pot of lavender!) The acrylic paint was great to work with and when dry you can paint over it which is a bonus! I am looking forward to part two to see what I do with what I have done so far.
The acrylic art painting workshop led by Hannah Bruce a local Woking artist was brilliant. We were inspired by The Vision Project piece and we agree, using music and dance to inspire our own art took some thought as it wasn't immediately obvious. But we had a good go and we can't wait for you all to see the wonderful art we have created together.
5. Part of the Vision project is also the dance - we watched it at the show but now you are taking part in the community dance section that will be filmed. What made you want to get involved and how have you found it?
Well again, the opportunity to be further involved in Vision Project. Lyrical dance is not something I have done much of (mostly tap and jazz and ballet) so wanted to dance to our lovely song but thought that if my body does not look particularly lyrical I can withdraw before being asked to!
Ann has been incredible and we agree, "A Million Nightingales" by composer Jim Pinchen really is a wonderful piece of music to dance to. Very alive, almost folk and tribal at it's heart and very much a favourite piece to dance to.
6. Apart from the creative side of things - what else do you get involved in?
Well I guess gardening and the construction of planters, upcycling things etc is still creative, so the two key things I am involved with are being a volunteer Marshall when I can at the Lakeside vaccination centre and I am chair of a group that has been working since 2015 to try and prevent a housing development of 120 dwellings in local woodland which houses Red Kites and Badgers amongst other flora and fauna. It was turned down at Planning Application stage but allowed at the independent inquiry. We are being a thorn in the side of the council and developers trying to delay and mitigate the development and we are waiting feedback from a planning lawyer to see if we have grounds for a judicial review -which will involve fund raising in the community. Very wearing at times but we cannot give up without a fight!
Sounds like Ann is a busy lady so we very much appreciate the time you spare to join us. Especially as the next part must be taking a lot of time up.
7. And a few little nightingales have told me about you climbing Snowdon - please tell us more?
Ah yes the night time climb of Snowdon! Why? you may well ask! This is in preparation for a bigger event - I am climbing Kilimanjaro starting end of June as a personal challenge and to raise money for Dementia. 7 days trekking and camping ( I have never camped before) going up the mountain gradually. The last climb up starts at midnight to reach summit for dawn! The Snowdon climb is designed to try and replicate that so it was excellent experience. The timing was changed to allow us a rest and breakfast when we got back before having to check out from the hostel at 10 a.m. So the group discussed with the two guides and agreed that the main objective was to experience going up in the dark with head torches and we would see dawn happening on the way down anyway. So after early dinner, a 9 p.m. start agreed and reached the summit at 2 a.m. then got back to the hostel at around 5.45 a.m. in time for a shower, small rest and breakfast before leaving! Approx. round trip of 18 km but felt more as it was up and down a mountain and hard on the muscles!
The climb was very tough for me but an amazing feeling to get to the top ( and back down safely on quite shaky muscles by then!) Our guide had a good strategy to help us when it got steep We did 30 steps then rested, eventually when much steeper we reduced it to 20 steps plus rest then 10. It worked for me that's for sure. Corinne said that it sounded like interval training. We switched our head torches off at one point so we could see all the stars away from the light pollution of the town and the pure silence up there was so lovely. As we neared the end of our decent, the birds started their dawn chorus before the sun gradually rose. Fabulous - but I don't think they were Nightingales!
Ann is super woman - you all read it here first. Amazing Ann - there a new name for such a fantastic participant.
8. Sounds amazing - what will you take away from the Vision Project?
The great opportunities to try new things and learn new skills and this was made more special by doing them with with the camaraderie of dance friends as well as new people. Contributing and feeling part of the Vision Project as a whole is special. I feel I could have a go at the painting on my own now having learnt some techniques and when my legs finally won't dance anymore I will have a new interest to amuse me!
We are so happy to hear that and I know that all those nightingales are happilly tweeting about it all.
9. What would you say to anyone who wants to give the workshops a go?
Just do it! You may be surprised at what you can do with the right guidance and friendly environment.
Ann is right, for many of our participants the skills they are trying are very new to them. The openess of heart and courage has clearly been on display and we very much acknowledge that comfort zones have been stretched. All together we have seen and supported each other as a group and realised that we can and are very much able.
10. And finally - can we buy your lovely watercolour lavender piece of art?
It's so beautiful.
Ha! Ha! there were many lovely ones. Mine will go to the highest bidder!
We are putting in an offer right now! Thank you so much to Ann for being such a wonderful participant and sharing her experiences of The Vision Project. Wonderful.
For further information about The Vision Project please check out our instagram page here.
Emma and The Vision Project Team