“Listen Chris lad, it’s the only time I’ve felt calm, n’ a bit alright about myself.”

Luke is coming back.

We first met in May 2013. He was 28 and had spent too many unproductive years in prison. Luke constantly generated ideas; verbalised his desires and often his slightly chaotic thought process could lead to some really dumb (I am sure he won’t mind me telling you) decision-making.

Luke's Lump at LandWorks

Luke’s Lump at LandWorks

He was one of the first to graduate. I used to think he frightened people, not through actions but more by looks and first impressions, a thousand different ideas a second can leave one reeling!

A trawler man (I have written about his hose pipe squirting capabilities before), he has been back to sea, but the combination of a recent fishing boat injury, and an illness has knocked him down…

So he is coming back, for a short time, to re-engage with somewhere that means a lot to him.

And he means a lot to me.

Within his whirling world, within the thousand ideas crashing over you, there is always a nugget, a wonderful gem of an idea…

  • Turning old tyres into a grassy dome to house our generator
  • ‘Shit’ garden crossing over reflective water to good garden, a place of hope.
  • Luke’s lump… a massive piece of oak stump, carved and proclaiming that you have arrived at LandWorks

Luke’s lump took about five weeks, a masterpiece for a man who never concentrated for more than a few minutes. So not to feel left out of whatever was going on, we would transport the ‘lump’, on our digger, to wherever the main work was happening that day and then our sculptor Luke would set to work, happy to be in our company.

Suddenly we were all making, creating and taking faltering steps towards being ‘arty’!

Not ‘poncey’, not ‘blowing smoke up yer arse’, not exclusive ‘scum like us can’t have an opinion on art’ (I am quoting!)…but raw, untapped, latent expression started to emerge. It’s great, exciting, inclusive and it’s still happening.

‘Social Art’ is now led by Sarah Hodge (Plymouth Uni Arts graduate). Sarah has been a volunteer for nearly 18 months, encouraging and nurturing people as they find they can create something, solving problems (it seems to me that a lot of art is just this) and leave a meaningful legacy to be proud of.

Working with Sarah, together developing a vision that encourages people to create, is fundamental to our ethos. Sarah is a fantastically motivated, enthused and a very capable woman, which in itself is invaluable. (Don’t know if you’ve noticed but we can be a bit blokey.)

So I can’t yet give you hard evidence that ‘art’ reduces crime but ‘art for everyone’ as part of a combination at LandWorks for Luke is priceless.