After spending several weeks in the town, artist Anthony Schrag perceived Mill Hill as “a bit of an island”, both because it is almost surrounded by water (the Canal to the south and River Darwen to the north), but also because it is a place in its own right: almost an independent state within Blackburn. He was based in the Community Centre, finding ways to talk about how Mill Hill relates to the wider world.
One of the ways he was doing this was by inviting community members to help him build a Boat Of Hope with items donated by residents including sails from old bedsheets; oars adapted from an old computer keyboard and a motor made from an old bike, making the boat a metaphor for the community of Mill Hill in general, i.e, it only works if everyone works together.
“I am really excited to get to know the Mill Hillers and work alongside them. My work is always site and context-responsive, so I try to design projects that are relevant and meaningful to the communities I work with. I look forward to exploring all that Mill Hill has to offer and what fun we might be able to have together!” – Anthony
Donna Talbot is Project Officer for Community CVS, and an active member of the Mill Hill community, who contacted Super Slow Way to see if we could help bring an artist to work with the people of the town. Through six months of discussion with Donna and local residents about what a resident artist could bring to the town, we created a brief with the hope of exploring the identity of the town, its past, present and future, and what it means to be a ‘Mill Hiller’.
“Part of Community CVS’s role is to support community centres in Blackburn with Darwen,” said Donna. “I contacted Ruth at Super Slow Way with the idea that an artist may be the catalyst to bringing the community together through a creative process.”
“When we were interviewing all the wonderful artist – Anthony Schrag stood out for me mainly because of how he approaches briefs and his past work was very community focused. Hopefully the project will have the catalytic effect that we hoping for – it would be wonderful to see residents to engage in the arts and realise that we are all creative.”
Anthony described his work as exploring a place and its people which often lead to participatory events, preferring to work with people collaboratively instead of making things to put in galleries.
He spent 60 days in the town, exploring ideas of identity ad playing with the idea of Mill Hill as an island.