In 2018 Magic Me and The L & Q Foundation teamed up with George Mitchell Primary School for the Quality Street Project. Our plan was that two years, three generations of residents in Leyton would come together to create new connections through art projects, celebrations and street festivals.
Our first year of activities saw three different groups:
come together in one joyful celebration – Meet the Street – in June 2019. Over 300 participants, fellow pupils, friends, family and neighbours took part in the event which involved processions, percussion, kites, costumes, bunting and the unveiling of a new mural on the wall of the playground.
We, as a school, feel very privileged to have been chosen to be part of this intergenerational project over the next two years. It is so important for our children to value older people in our community and to learn from them but also have a unique opportunity to work closely with them together for a goal they will all be part of and enjoy.
Helen Williams, Senior Deputy Head and Head of Primary at George Mitchell School Primary
Quality Street Year 2
In the second year of the project we started to recruit people who lived in Leyton to be part of the Quality Street steering group. We were keen to get the widest age range of adult participants involved: parents of pupils at George Mitchell Primary School, L&Q residents, older people living in the area, artists and keen volunteers
The steering group continue to meet using Zoom to help deliver the project, now adapted to the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We kicked off year 2 of Quality Street by creating an intergenerational tapestry. The ‘Tapestry Tuesdays’ project was led by artist Kathryn Horak-Hallett with guest artist Polly Beestone, Year 4 pupils from George Mitchell Primary School and residents from Albany Court came together to share their experiences of the local area and explore places which are important to the community. Find out more about it here.
Our Story, Our Street
In March, Quality Street moved into a new phase, adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic and artists Ben Connors and Kathy Horak-Hallet are working on a new project. ‘Our Story, Our Street’ will take place between May and the end of June, with groups from George Mitchell Primary School, Albany Court and Glebelands, extra care schemes. It will ask the question:
If we imagined Quality Street as a real road in Leyton, what would it look like? Who would live there? And how would it reflect all of our wonderful work over the past two years?
Together they will create an imaginary street by sharing their own real life stories and experiences. Using these stories as inspiration, they will imagine places and characters, and make artworks such as drawings, sculptures, poems and collage. Artists Kathy and Ben will then use these artworks to create a short animation film.
We Bloom is part of our Quality Street project. Last summer, at the end of the first year of the Quality Street project the ‘Meet the Street’ festival took over the playground at George Mitchell Primary School and brought together more than 300 local people. In the spring of 2020 the Quality Street steering group were working on a new festival for this July but then the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered their plans and made such a gathering impossible.
Three local artists, Grace White, Jo Scholar and Irene Pulga (who are part of the steering group) have come up with an alternative – We Bloom – as a way for people to be creative together whilst apart. It is designed so that people can share stories, connect with neighbours and celebrate with their community. Invitations have gone out via the school, local care partners and by leaflet drop in Byron Road inviting people to get involved. Those signing up will get a project pack to help them make unique handmade items as a gift to someone else in the community, and artworks that become a unique pop-up community garden at the school.
About our funder and partner for the project – The L&Q Foundation:
The L&Q Foundation develops and funds social interventions that improve people’s chances in life and creates opportunities in our communities. Alongside this they invest in activities that increase opportunity and aspiration for both individuals and the wider communities they create and manage. They continue to work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the best outcome for their residents and the greatest social return on their investment.
Photos in featured image by Samia Meah