Artist turns neglected building into art
An international artist has transformed a run-down building into a work of art thanks to a community project organised by the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).
Jaakko Mattila travelled from his native Finland to work with young people from the Sandy Hill Detached Youth Project in Farnham during April and May.
The unique assignment was organised by staff at UCA's James Hockey & Foyer Galleries who wanted to create a community project for Jaakko around his major exhibition there last year.
Jaakko, who graduated from BA (Hons) Fine Art at UCA Farnham in 2001, said: "This was a very exciting project for me. Art, like sport, brings people together: it educates them about cultural and social differences, and can enrich peoples' lives. For me, the experience of art - and making it - has been life-changing.
"I have done community art projects in the past that have been very fulfilling and this one was just the same. I hope that the kids got something out of the project and now feel more rooted here."
Jaakko and members of the Youth Project began working on the exterior walls of the hexagonal hut on Sandy Hill on 17 April. They were meant to finish before the end of the month but bad weather got in the way.
Tracy Scares, Lead Youth Worker at Sandy Hill detached Youth Group, said: "We are really pleased with how the building has turned out but, for me, the most important outcome of this project has been the amount of young people getting involved in art who might have never done before.
"We had new kids joining the group because they saw artwork happening down here, which also brought in a new dimension because many of kids have very complex backgrounds and it can be tough for some to learn about tolerance, working together and accepting new people, so this has been great."
Christine Kapteijn, UCA Galleries' Curator & Manager, said: "The James Hockey & Foyer Galleries always strive to include and engage a wide variety of audiences - we want to show that art is not just for certain people.
"Jaakko's work personifies this - his paintings attract seasoned art lovers, novices, children and alike. We believe that our commitment to widening participation through art will help sustain the future of the arts and inspire many people in the community."
Last year, Jaakko became the first graduate of UCA to headline a major solo exhibition at the James Hockey & Foyer Galleries with Lowest Common Denominator, which ran from 7 October to 17 December 2011.
Ahead of that show, he held a series of workshops for pupils from local schools where they got to speak to Jaakko and create their own paintings, using his work as inspiration.
For more information contact:
David Reilly, Press Officer, UCA
T: 01252 892939