Hello from Esther and Willow, our new Learning team

Posted on 24/04/2020

This Spring we welcomed our new Learning team to Towner Eastbourne and are thrilled to have them in post! Esther Collins is our new Head of Learning, working with Willow Mitchell, our Art School Coordinator.

Between them, Esther and Willow have worked on a wide range of projects at MK Gallery, Firstsite, Whitstable Biennale, Cubitt Artists, Turner Contemporary and Bow Arts before joining us. Both are also are practising artists.

We’ll hand over to Esther now, to tell you about what the Learning team have planned for Eastbourne, now and in the future…

Hi, I’m Esther. I’m the new Head of Learning at Towner and I work with Willow, Art School Coordinator. Together we programme projects, workshops and events with artists, families, older people, children, young people and adults.

As we are both new to Towner we have been trying out ways to talk to people in Eastbourne, learn about who lives here and develop ideas about how we might work together. Sadly at the moment none of us can do this face to face, so we are learning how to use social media as our main communication channel. Our first conversations started just three weeks ago.

On our @Hello_Towner Instagram channel, we have begun posting a simple task or challenge each week with the hashtag #MakeShiftStudio. Willow sets the prompt, each designed to be possible with a range of basic household objects and materials – things you might have in the house already, without having to go out to an art shop or search for further than your current setting. So far, we’ve made tents, flags and other creations all inspired by the Towner Collection.

We want to encourage people (and ourselves) to find ways to be resourceful and to re-imagine what is becoming an increasingly familiar domestic setting.

In May, we are planning to launch a series of online artist-led practical making workshops on Facebook and Instagram, which will extend these basic prompts and the possibilities of these everyday materials with specific skills and techniques. We are very interested in sharing and learning from people’s responses, and hopefully some ideas for longer-term projects will emerge that we can all come together and participate in when the gallery opens again.

In the past month we have made a lot of new, friendly contacts through preparing bags of basic art materials, and working with partners – Eastbourne Food Bank, Eastbourne Borough Council, Community Stuff, Eastbourne NetworX, Arts in Mind and the Association of Carers – to distribute. I hope that if you have received one, you enjoy it and it makes life just a little bit better right now.

I can’t wait to be back in the gallery building and open to the public, to meet our communities and have lots of conversations.  Until then, we can still be in touch digitally!

Feel free to reach out to me at Esther.Collins@townereastbourne.org.uk