A ‘KINDNESS shop’ is set to open in Stratford’s Bell Court to inspire the community’s creative spirit.
The RSC is working with West Midlands artist Saadia Hipkiss to open a space in the shopping court where people can come together create large, colourful artworks – known as mandalas – which will be displayed in the square’s empty shops.
Sponsored by Bell Court, and supported by a grant from Stratford Town Trust, the ‘Art Warming’ project takes inspiration from ‘The Kindness Rock Project’ where people paint and place colourful rocks about for others to find. Similarly, the RSC will also ask people to share their messages of hope and kindness.
Some of these will be painted onto rocks by Saadia and volunteers, and placed in a ‘kindness garden’ in Bell Court. Other messages will be audio recorded and played in the square as part of a soundscape, Stratford Says Thank You, on Saturday April 24, to celebrate the final day of the project and to coincide with Shakespeare’s Birthday.
The Kindness Shop is expected to open alongside non-essential retail on Monday April 12. Outdoor mandala colouring activities – limited to family units or ‘bubbles’ of no more than two people – will take place between 10am and 3pm throughout the week.
During the shop’s set up in the previous week, the RSC Creative Placemaking team will note down people’s messages of kindness, and offer passers-by rock kits and mandala templates to colour at home and return to the shop.
RSC spokeswoman Ida Ballerini said: “We believe small things make a difference, and creativity and kindness can inspire, help and motivate others as we emerge together from a difficult year. We look forward to reconnecting with the people of Stratford in April as part of this Art Warming project, and I can’t wait to see the colourful mandalas and hear people’s messages of hope. We will use these to decorate Bell Court creating a beacon of better days ahead.”
Town trust spokesman James McHugh said: “Through supporting this project, we hope that we can play a small part in helping the community of Stratford start to reconnect, to reflect on the unprecedented challenges and sadness, but also share their messages of kindness and hope, and to recognise the amazing spirit of togetherness and community spirit that has been evident throughout the town.
“We know that Art Warming will engage residents and families across the town in fun and meaningful activities, and help celebrate everything that makes Stratford-upon-Avon so fantastic – the people.”