Jodie Gibson

Jodie Gibson - SpareParts

Jodie is Artistic Director for SpareParts and the Creative Producer for Legends, Lights and Lullabies.

Legends, Lights & Lullabies

Collaborative approaches to culture and place-making; a road-map back to event delivery in Sandbach.
By Jodie Gibson

Finding creative solutions to the situations we find ourselves in, is something everyone is having to do at the moment.

Usually, SpareParts work in association with Sandbach Transport Festival each spring, to bring live performance and community participation programmes to their transport and heritage festival.

With large-scale public events not able to take place when their festival would traditionally happen, the voluntary festival committee who organise Sandbach Transport Festival decided to postpone their event until 2022.

My challenge was to artistically imagine a way of marking the usual transport festival held in April, whilst offering something for the communities of Sandbach that would have a wow-factor, create a positive talking point in the town, elevate spirits and allow for lots of different levels of participation (live and digital). And be as safe as possible, of course.

Luke Jerram’s piece Lullaby, was an ideal starting point; a magical bike parade and audio artwork that passes by people’s homes at dusk. The twinkling lights, coupled with a musical score by musician Andy Taylor, passes by the windows and doorsteps of local residents, via 30 local cyclists who power the performance. It would offer a playful, surprising alternative at children’s bedtime; yet something enchanting for all ages.

By programming Lullaby, it gave me the opportunity to consider how else we could develop the idea creatively for Sandbach’s context. How does the event speak to the particular places and personalities of Sandbach? How else could we expand on the bedtime parade and lullaby that would pass-by people’s homes?

The idea of creating a new bedtime story for Sandbach emerged. A story that could be delivered to residents in the days leading up to the parade. Something that could set the scene for the bike-parade that would follow. Something that grounds Lullaby, that has featured internationally, firmly in its locale in Sandbach. Through creating a printed story that could be delivered to residents, we would also include the many people who have not been able to connect to cultural opportunities and events online during the pandemic. We are going to bring the story and the spectacle, to the people.

One of the strong features of our work is collaboration. A key partner in Sandbach, is Minerva Arts who head-up our participation programme. This year their lead practitioner, Emily Edwards, recruited a team of Young Producers from Sandbach to work with me on all aspects of delivery; from contributing creative ideas, to marketing/promotion and event planning.

When we did a call-out for North West Writers to work with us on a commissioned story for Sandbach, the Young Producers were involved in the selection and interview processes. With their input, we selected Manchester-based writer, Matthew Smith, for his proposal called Chuck the Trucker. It is an inter-generational story about how a despondent retired truck driver, Chuck, gains a verve for life when his young neighbour, Jade the Unafraid, teaches him how to ride a bike in order that he can continue having adventures in his retirement.

As part of their participation programme, Minerva Arts also commissioned an artist from Sandbach, Carl Waine, to illustrate the story. To further the co-creation work that Minerva Arts advocates, Carl led an online weekend intensive with the Young Producers to generate ideas from which he will create the illustrations that will accompany the book.

Additionally, Minerva Arts have commissioned Musician, Leo Mercer to create a digital arts project to accompany our work in Sandbach. Leo will be writing a new song, based on the story of Chuck the Trucker, with an original score. People from the area will then be able to record themselves signing the song and Leo will curate the contributions into a digital, collaborated artwork. With groups of people still unable to meet physically, this is a way of involving more numbers of people through online participation.

We look forward to sharing our newly commissioned song and illustrated story, along with Lullaby, Luke Jerram’s enchanting bike parade, people-powered by the residents of Sandbach.

Legends, Lights & Lullabies is a collaborative project, co-created by a host of Artists and Creatives, that I am thrilled to be producing for Sandbach.