Talking Takes Off Bench Project

Dreaming of life after the pandemic

We have a fantastic new project underway which is bringing together local schools and nurseries, professional artists, the Talking Takes Off team, Early Years Alliance, Flying Start and Luton 2040.

Artists have been recruited to work with children from five Luton nursery and primary schools to think about ‘the places they would like to visit, and things they would like to do when the pandemic is over’. Five professional illustrators will then transform the children’s ideas and drawings into high quality designs to be painted on five star-shaped benches. These benches will be installed in five recreation locations in June: Wardown Park arboretum, Stockwood Park, Runley Road Recreation Park, Manor Road Recreation Park and Icknield Recreation Park.

The aim of this project is to promote communication and language through the creative arts which will also have a lasting feature for our wider community. The children’s contributions will take pride of place on the benches which will further inspire communication in all its forms when they are used by children and adults in the parks. This project will shine a light on the voices of our children in Luton, who are also our citizens of the future. 

Funded by the Department for Education Early Outcomes fund, the five artists selected from a competitive pool of national applicants, Tom Guilmard, Roo, Alex Edwards Agg, Jenny Cox and Luton’s own Lauren Connolly, have already started interacting with children from River Bank Primary School, Fun to Learn Nursery and pre-school, Chapel Street Nursery School, Park Town Pre-school and Icknield Primary School, encouraging them to play, dream and get excited about sharing their ideas and drawings with each other. Luton’s own Aaron Spendelow of children’s arts organisation A Children’s Story is leading the workshops and said: ‘I am honoured to be the Creative Facilitator for this exciting project which will encourage and enable early years children to use their imagination skills to create stories. In working in collaborating with Flying Start, Luton 2040, five incredible artists and a selection of local early years children, I believe some incredible bold and bright creations will appear on star benches across the town very soon’. 

We look forward to seeing these fabulous creations in Luton parks early June. Look out for more photos and communications on social media over the coming weeks!

Cllr Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for education said: “Due to the current COVID-19 crisis many creative children’s engagement projects, ideas and investments have slowed down or stopped.

“We believe this is an opportunity to engage deeply with children in an innovative and engaging way and deliver colourful and uplifting pieces of street furniture that will brighten our lives as we return to socialising outdoors over the summer.

“It is such a great idea to have professional illustrators transform the ideas and drawings of children. When the participating children and their families see their drawings immortalised on these fun park benches they will feel a real sense of pride and feel a real connection to the places in which they live, learn and play. I cannot wait to see the final result.”https://m.luton.gov.uk/Page/Show/news/Pages/Children-dream-of-life-after-the-pandemic.aspx

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