Guest Blog: Connecting people through creative partnerships

Looking ahead to our Health and Heritage conference in March 2017, we asked Liz Ellis, Policy Adviser, Communities and Diversity at Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to share her response to Quay Place, Ipswich.

Here at HLF, we use the evidence of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing framework to promote how taking part in heritage activities builds our positive mental health.

Quay Place enables us to meet together to relax in a lovely place, to take part in new activities, to have fun and to make new connections in our daily lives, sometimes in unexpected ways. As a creative partnership between The Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind, supported with a grant from HLF, Quay Place connects the medieval church of St Mary at-the-Quay with the needs of contemporary Ipswich, creating a new use for the site as a centre for wellbeing.

On my recent visit to this beautiful building, I immediately saw how our overall health as individuals and communities could increase in this modern space which is flexibly designed for a wide range of activities. The centre involves all ages through events such as singing and coaching and includes a welcoming café and inviting rooms which are available for therapy treatments. A great range of people and organisations are already making the most of the space and shaping new connections at Quay Place.

During my visit I was lucky enough to meet one of the people who’ve contributed to making Quay Place such an inviting centre. Tim Germain is a local furniture maker, living half a mile away, he is a member of the Suffolk Craft Society. Tim has used strong, original designs in his hand-made tables which now used in the café and creative spaces at Quay Place.

Image credit: Tim Germain Furniture Designer/Maker

I asked him how he’d arrived at the designs for the elegant tables which are already proving popular. Tim described using digital processes and resin marquetry in his furniture designs, connecting with the history of the site and including 14th century Ipswich church portraits and brass rubbings by local school children. He spoke enthusiastically about working collaboratively to design the furniture:

‘I love people having input into the design: the consultation and involvement at Quay Place has been a brilliant creative process - it’s a listening as well as a design process.’

The East of England is famous for strong, distinctive craft skills, whether it’s the use of knapped flints and local clay in the buildings or the woven willow used in fences across the region. Contemporary makers and creative people are active in leading community events and national festivals, often drawing on local stories for inspiration. Alongside many people involved in Quay Place, Tim and colleagues represent local communities taking the lead in building new connections across Suffolk, drawing on their heritage to create better places to live.

Tickets for the Health and Heritage Conference 2017 are now available online. 


Image Credit: Andy Marshall