Arts & Culture Cowley

Creative project celebrates diversity

By Helena Clennett at

Templars Square Shopping Centre was a riot of colour as it played host to a community project celebrating the diversity and creativity of local people of all ages in the East Oxford area.

“The Positive Painting Project” is the second collaboration between the shopping centre and Ark T, the Oxford based creative educational charity with social change at its heart which will commemorate its 20th anniversary this year. The project, funded by Templars Square, encourages people to focus on the positive things in our world, like kindness, peace, love and respect and express them through their paintings.

Organiser Groovy Su, who is Ark T’s Resident Community Artist said: “At Ark T, we believe that creativity has the power to transform lives and inspire social change. This is a fantastic community project that gives families and friends the opportunity to create together, many of the parents didn’t anticipate joining in with the painting but end up really enjoying it. It will be wonderful when the paintings are put on display in Templar Square. One girl told me this was the biggest painting she had ever done, and the muckiest she had ever been- so job done I’d say!”

Debra Moses-Maraj was at the painting workshop with grandaughter Sapphire, 7, after seeing a poster at her school. “Sapphire is very arty and loves painting and creating with different materials so we wanted to come along today and will probably go to the sessions in the week too” said Debra. “I’ve been having fun using all the different colours” said Sapphire “I’m calling my finished painting ‘Love your World ‘ and I will be happy to see it in Templars Square, and even happier if people like it!”

Yasir and Salma were helping daughter Sarah with her painting after discovering the workshop via social media. “She likes painting so she did all the colours, but I added a verse by the famous Pakistani poet Iqbal, which talks about the importance of poverty and principles and not selling oneself for materialistic gains, because we live in materialistic times.” said Salma.

Adriana Costa Pereira and Mayron Muller were painting with daughter Luiza creating a picture called ‘I love England’ celebrating their love for the UK and their Brazilian homeland. “We have enjoyed it today, it has been positive and beautiful,” said Mayron.

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Ark T’s Cait Sweeney summed up the day saying: “It has been such a successful morning, and it has been a wonderful thing to be able to offer the community. People had been asking what had happened to the paintings that were up before so it will be great to get the work we’ve done today on display for people to enjoy.”

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Further painting sessions will be held at the Art T Centre during half term today, Monday 13 February 1.30pm – 3.30pm, tomorrow, Tuesday 14 February 10am-12noon and 1.30pm-3.30pm, and on Wednesday 15 February 10am-12noon.