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Doncaster Speaks

Doncaster Talks - The Treasury of Local Wisdom

‘The Treasury of Local Wisdom’ was an idea developed between Doncaster Council’s Performance & Strategy Unit and Doncaster Creates. Leading with the DC theme of “people led regeneration through great art” the project posed the question

‘What happens if we put Doncaster artists at the centre of finding out what the town’s residents think about and want for the borough as a whole and their immediate community?’

To respond to this question 6 of Doncaster’s best artists worked at the heart of this year’s ‘Doncaster Talks’ consultation.

Doncaster Talks is the method by which Doncaster Council and its partners in Team Doncaster (representatives from the community, voluntary, public and private sectors),  speak to people about the issues that matter to them now and in helping shape the town’s future - what is going to be most important?

Through an open, competitive selection process with an independent committee in July 2019, artists Anton Hecht, Craig Hoyle (Five Five Design), Raj Madaan (Madaan Media), Angela Robson, Chinwe Russell, and Wayne Sables were chosen to realise the idea.

Accompanied by Doncaster Talks surveyors, this diverse group of artists, using digital media, AV, photography, origami, written prose and paint  visited wide ranging locations - from parks and play areas to shopping centres, schools, festivals and green spaces.

The artists listened intently to residents’ feedback on what they liked about Doncaster, what needs to be improved and their hopes for the future. Their insights and interpretations offered a different way of absorbing what had been said as well as a collection of unique art works  - ‘The Treasury of Local Wisdom’.

The feedback from the survey was presented and debated as part of the culminating action planning by Team Doncaster members and leaders at the culminating Doncaster Talks Summit on 8th November 2019. A major part of the summit was ‘The Treasury of Local Wisdom’ exhibition which enabled delegates to meet and discuss with the artists their findings, offering new ways of looking at challenging issues and critical aspects of issues that had not emerged through survey questions.

Artist Sarah Smizz played a significant part in shaping The Treasury of Local Wisdom and wowed delegates by documenting large parts of Summit workshops through her live drawing skills. Artist Kate Sully also joined the ‘Treasury’ artists for the day, all of whom were involved in capturing different aspects of the Summit’s debates. 

Doncaster Youth Jazz Association provided great music ambience, boosting the positive vibes for discussion and signposting beginnings and ends of sessions.

Artist Chinwe Russell, who’d conducted some of her consultation by leaving large blank boards and pens in Doncaster Markets for people to freely write and draw their thoughts, stated that “The Treasury of Local Wisdom has made me work in a new way - normally I find inspiration from inside myself, with this project i’m deeply engaging with what other people are saying - getting involved in it and following where the images that result lead me. This has helped develop an alternative practice for me…”

Film Maker Raj Madaan commented that “the opportunity to come together and experience this with other local artists has been special - there’s an appetite between us to develop further work in collaboration…..”