Art, community and creativity are all thriving in Blackpool currently but somehow, little by little, drifting away from society and education in the UK. If we were to dig deep to discover what makes us as human beings become more fulfilled and complete, we could look to Roko Belic’s Academy Award nominated documentary, Happy, which discusses four elements that potentially hold the key to that illusive happiness. Two important elements discussed are connecting with close and supportive friends and family and community, the second being compassion and service to others.

Caught up in the rat race we all begin to think that more stuff and materialism is ultimately going to fulfil us and somehow to make us better people. Popular media is constantly forcing us to imagine how life could be so much more brilliant with a new car, a better pair of shoes, a hot body, a fabulous house and job. Choose Life as they say in Trainspotting!

Brainwashed into our own selfish wants and needs we have turned our back on family, community and perhaps those things that would create a more enriching sense of self rather then that new flat screen TV.

I caught up Boz Phillips who is working on a Blackpool based arts project alongside her partner, graffiti artist Mr Dee. They are working on shaping the community, potentially helping to create a little pot of happiness and helping to inspire individuals through compassion and service.

Tell me about who you are and what you do? 

I am a self-employed fine artist and arts health professional specialising in community engagement.  I work with self-employed graffiti artist Mr Dee who has 30 years’ experience of graffiti art. Together we are Last Legs, a community arts organisation. We work in partnership with organisations and community groups to provide creative projects that promote and encourage well-being and health. Together we create art works with the community and inspire people to participate in the arts.

What has been your motivation and/or inspiration? 

My job; working with the community. I find people interesting and inspiring. My art is inspired by birds. I made a number of films and art works around birds and flight. I have also been researching turn of the century ‘performers in plumage’ for around ten years. With the research I aim to create a book.

What do you think art and creativity can bring to the community? 

Health, friendship, creative thinking, social inclusion, work, love for life, appreciation of the world around us.

Tell me about your break through moment? 

Receiving a first for my Fine Art degree and realising that I did have artistic talent and intelligence. I was a bit of a school dropout and was told that I would ‘never be an artist’. It made me want to inspire others to get involved with the arts and to believe in themselves. Also, when I received my M.A. in Arts and Health with distinction. As part of my research I worked on a fantastic intergenerational arts project which culminated in the publishing of a book about the experiences of people living with mental health issues.

What would you change or add to for Blackpool’s creative scene? 

For people to value the arts as being part of everyday life, health and culture.  I want people to value the arts in everyday life. Creativity created human culture. Blackpool needs be engaged with creative solutions to support employment opportunities, health and community pride.

What can we expect from Last Legs in the immediate future?  

More community engagement and grassroots art projects. Check our blog regularly for updates on our work: http://lastlegsart.com

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