During the winter months of 2019/2020, diverse groups of people in Ballymena town and district worked under the guidance of professional artists to produce a superb bus shelter art trail around the area, and an exhibition of artwork.
The project was a partnership between Ballymena Church Members Forum and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Arts Department.
It was a celebration of our natural world, aiming to highlight environmental concerns and how we can all work together to “Care for Creation.”
The project brought together citizens of all ages, abilities, and faith backgrounds through the practical activities of arts workshops to express their ideas, thoughts, and their faith.
Eight churches in the area agreed to host workshops each during November 2019 through to February 2020, paired with a professional artist and to encourage participation from the wider community.
Host Churches were: All Saints, Ballymena Methodist Church, Craigs Parish Church, High KIrk, Gracehill Moravian Church, St Columba’s, St Patrick’s, West Church. Participating groups: Church organisations and individual members (Craft group, Mother and Toddler, Scouts, Youth club). Community organisations: Hope House, Women’s Aid, Woodvale Adult Learning Centre; Primary schools: Ballykeel, Braidside, Carniny, St Brigid’s, St Colmcille’s.
The professional artists were Paul Bell, Lucy Craig, Tim McCarthy, Ciara O’Malley, Helen Sloan, Andrea Spencer.
One of the images from each host church was chosen to be displayed in selected bus shelters in the Ballymena town and surrounding village areas, forming a unique art trail. This open outdoor exhibition was displayed from mid-March to August 2020.
In September 2020, in a virtual ceremony, Care for Creation was awarded the prestigious Epic Award (Ireland) 2020 by Voluntary Arts (now Creative Lives).
In March 2022 Jennifer McLernon, Chairperson, Ballymena Church Members Forum and St Clair Beatty, Ballymena Church Members Forum, and a leader of one of the participating workshops, travelled to attend a live ceremony in Coventry Cathedral and formally accept the award on behalf of all project participants.
The plan to have all the artwork on display in The Braid Arts Centre in March 2020 had to be postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, in June 2022 Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Arts Department was able to mount a public exhibition of all the work. M&EABC hosted a private preview attended by the Deputy Mayor, Beth Adger, workshop participants, artists and funders on Thursday evening 9 June 2022 followed by five days free admission for the public.
Note: Creative Lives is a registered charity established in 1991, that champions community and volunteer-led creative activity. The current Ireland Director is Damien McGlynn.