Project Tahi was the first of three core workshops Home Ground ran in 2022: two for wahine in the community and one based out of Arohata prison.
The project was delivered online over eight weeks from May to July. Due to Covid-19, Project Tahi was the first Home Ground project to be held fully online, with participants, artists and Home Ground crew holding online video check-ins, and sharing their artworks with each other in an online Google Classroom.
Highlights of the project included using the new Home Ground Workbook for the first time, a scent workshop run by artist Nathan Taare, a dance and movement collaboration with Java Dance Theatre, and roaming workshops around Wellington creative venues.
These roaming workshops included a book launch from Anahera Gildea, visits to Te Papa and Toi Pōneke Arts Centre, and a Matariki reflection day at the Wellington Botanic Gardens Matariki exhibition.
We were also able to launch our new community handbook. The Home Ground Community Handbook: From Our Table to Yours, is a resource made collaboratively with women in the justice system, for women in the justice system. It is full of advice, information and resilience tools for women on community sentences.
While trialling the online classroom during Project Toru 2021, Home Ground noted the need for online participants to create a space solely dedicated to creative practice. An art sanctuary away from distractions at home, such as kids, partners and puppies. The Home Ground Workbook was born from this need.
Project Tahi 2022 was the first opportunity to use the newly minted Home Ground Workbook. The workbook features the shared mahi of Home Ground artists, printed through a collaboration with 5ever.
The workbook has different wellbeing tools, art prompts, and beautiful inspiring images. It also has blank pages for unprompted art and was found to be a huge asset. All of the wāhine who participated in the project were independently inspired in their own time to use the workbook. One participant noted, after having a tough day, creating art in the workbook helped.
“Monday night was struggling, locked myself away to get back. Went to painting and it helped me A LOT”
The flexible nature of an online project was a huge benefit when two team members became ill with covid. Participants were also able to make appointments, care for whānau who were ill and hapū, and manage the rest of their lives while still checking in and sharing their art for feedback in the online classroom when they could. Feedback was often – unprompted – in the form of poetry!
Participants who missed a day could also catch up with the content in the online classroom, often finding inspiration from the art of others. Having an online platform that participants could flexibly engage with has been a huge asset to Home Ground.
“Although it was different from being in a room together being on line served a great purpose for me to be in my space”
At the end of Project Tahi, participants expressed a desire for ongoing online engagement. This has not been possible on previous, in-person projects. But in response to that feedback, Home Ground has launched a weekly online engagement initiative called Ahi Kā (the “home fire”).
Graduates of Home Ground projects are now able to regularly and sustainably check in with Home Ground in-between projects and stay connected through our online classroom.
Project Tahi was a true testament to the adaptability and resilience of Home Ground’s delivery. It was our first fully online project, our first project marked by covid challenges to staffing, and the first time we used the Home Ground Workbook.
Project Tahi was also striking in the quantity and quality of art produced, the creative resilience and confidence shown by crew and participants alike, and the strong positive feedback collected.