Container Projects: A Space With Heart

By May Cornet:

Container Projects is a new artist-led community project space in the heart of Woodbridge.

Alice-Andrea Ewing, Emily Richardson and I initially developed Container Projects as a creative response to the pandemic. The project grew out of friendship, experience as artists and mothers and a desire to develop a space that would be a creative resource for our community and a place to develop social networks for those experiencing social isolation.

At Container Projects we believe that creativity is not only about making art but is a response to life that supports people to develop their own voice, skills in problem-solving, experimenting and discovery. Lockdown ignited in us the need to reach out to the community through creativity to develop a cultural space for the making, viewing and promotion of culture.

On the face of it, Woodbridge and the surrounding area appears to be a town of affluence, yet there is still a lot of unseen and unmet need. As artists we draw strength on our creative skills in being able to see things from different perspectives; we see our role as about helping build bridges and social networks within our community.

Part of the vision of Container Projects is to be part of a change, to create a cutting-edge space that supports conversations around difference and diversity through creativity, to give voices to real lived experience.

When we put our ears to the ground for our socially distanced ‘Meet the Team’ drop-in on May 3, we were overwhelmed with the level of support. Speaking to fellow artists, musicians, dancers, theatre-makers, dancers and well-being practitioners, there is clearly incredible energy amongst our community for sharing this vision for the need to create visibility for cultural difference. What we’re hearing is a need for real-life experiences to be heard and Container Projects sees itself as part of a new platform for supporting this change.

Our first program, Me Time, is about supporting new parents who have had children during the pandemic or who have children under four, a project supported by East Suffolk council. These are free sessions designed to support the well-being of the parent looking at areas such as self-care. As the paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winncott said, ‘There is no such thing as a baby, there is the baby and someone’. In the past, resources for new parents have been limited to focusing on the baby.

As parents ourselves, Emily and I remembered our own parenting journeys, leaving the city to live the dream and have children in the country only to find ourselves isolated and bereft of cultural experience and community. During our river walks, we reflected on how it might be for new parents during the pandemic who haven’t been able to access mother and baby groups and meet other people going through similar experiences.

In our own experience, whilst we enjoyed going to mother and baby singing groups, there seemed to be no safe forum for a discussion of what it’s really like being a parent. Motherhood is so idealised, it’s more than likely that we end up feeling like we fall short of doing a good job and it can be easy to get into negative thought patterns.

The purpose of the Me Time sessions will be for new parents to meet each other and share experiences in a relaxed informal environment. There will be no pressure on participants to say anything or to do any of the activities, showing up is enough! Sessions will run until June 21. These are drop-in sessions so it’s possible to sign up at any time.

We very much want to work with our community. If you’d like to meet more people and have an idea that Container Projects may be able to develop, we’d love to hear from you.

Groups we plan to develop programs with are over-sixties, children and young people aged 14-plus and new parents.

If you are part of a group or organisation in East Suffolk that you feel is unrepresented, please contact us, we would be interested to hear from you.

For more information visit: www.containerprojects.org

Instagram: @containerprojectswoodbridge

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