The Big Park Project: Playground of the Imagination

Photo credit: Gillian Frampton

Artists Julia McGhee and Ruby Worth are collaborating with Inver Primary School to co-create a project that investigates how we can use movement to learn about ourselves, connect to each other and our wider community. Through games and interaction with props, ways of connecting with one another and elements of the outdoor environment, we will learn how different ways of moving can make us see, feel and imagine.

The project will start during the Summer holidays at the ‘Big Park’ in Inver. Pupils from Inver Primary School told Julia about the existence of The Big Park in 2021 when they took part in The Morrich Project in Summer 2021. They wrote letters about what they think of the village of Inver and their hopes for the future. They described how the park used to have a slide, swings and a zip wire but that it had been dismantled years ago due to falling into disrepair. This is something that has happened to many playgrounds in smaller communities across the Highlands and it has had a huge impact on the way that children and young people meet and interact: primarily reducing their opportunities for outdoor play and socialisation, which are key to mental health and wellbeing.

Our approach will be through working outdoors in the park with colourful props such as large stretchy elastics, rubber discs, coloured parachutes and ribbon sticks. During workshops with the primary school pupils, we will share games and physical interactions with the props which may lead to interactive movement scores and choreography. These sessions will also incorporate yoga poses, relaxation and breathing techniques that can help improve focus and listening, reduce stress and anxiety. Through being creative together, we will learn more about each other, about the importance of being ourselves and just as we are. These are all important parts of building confidence, emotional vocabulary and the capacity to self-calm.

The project will start in the Summer holidays and continue into the new school term in August/September.

Dates for the Big Park Project are:

Wednesday 2nd August – 10.30am-12.00
Thursday 3rd August – 10.30am-12.00

Monday 7th August – 2.00-3.30pm
Thursday 10th August – 2.00-3.30pm

Tuesdays 22nd August – 26th September 1.30pm-3.00pm

The Big Park Project team are:

Julia McGhee is a dance artist based in Inver near Tain, who has 12 years’ experience working with schools and community groups across the Highlands. Her artistic work is strongly linked to place – principally the area close to where she lives – and responds to the landscape, history, environment and people that she sees around her. In collaboration with community dance company, Isabella Dance, she co-created the Symbols Stones and Seaboard Celebration projects with four primary schools in Easter Ross. She has also collaborated with artists Robbie Synge to create Sassegrasse and Two – screendance works involving young people dancing outdoors in Highland locations. And in 2017, she led a collaborative project called Interactive Experiments, working with young people who have learning disabilities through SOAR Youth Projects and St Duthus School in Tain.

Ruby Worth is a creative practitioner based in Findhorn, who works across the forms of dance, movement, theatre, education and therapy. Ruby is also a teacher and a registered dance movement psychotherapist, graduating from Dartington College of Arts and holding an MSc in Dance Movement Psychotherapy with Distinction from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
She has practiced in community/professional arts settings and within the health/social care and education sectors for almost thirty years. Her creative practice invites people of all ages and abilities to discover, recover, adventure with, their innately creative selves, their bodies, imaginations, thoughts, feelings and passions, to listen to what moves and inspires and brings an aliveness and sense of wonder to life.
She has recently been collaborating with primary school pupils in Findhorn on an Embodied Learning project investigating how different ways of moving made them see, feel and imagine the world around them. In 2005, Ruby was commissioned by Imaginate to produce dance show Hoops, hats and acrobats for performance at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Both Julia and Ruby are members of the PVG scheme and hold professional indemnity and public liability insurance.

The Big Park Project is funded by the Highland Cares Fund.