For seven weeks, seven freelance artists each suggest seven creative ideas to help you Take Notice.

We’re living through a strange and frightening time. We’re ‘alone, together’ in a lockdown. Committed to social distancing and self-isolation. We’re trying to help our communities, while government policy still leaves individuals behind. We still don’t know what to expect. How long will we be inside?

Why A Week’s Notice?

At Contact we’ve been thinking about how the Five Ways to Wellbeing could help us to look after ourselves right now. With this project, we’re focusing on one of the Five Ways that often gets overlooked: Take Notice. It’s been shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your wellbeing. Although we know that sometimes you need to distract yourself from what’s happening, with this project we’re asking you to spend a little bit of time each day creatively taking notice of what we’re living through, and reflecting on how you are feeling.

JOIN US

For seven weeks, starting on Monday 27 March and ending on Sunday 10 May 2020, seven freelance artists suggested seven creative ideas to help you Take Notice – a different idea every day.

You can keep your responses private, or share them with us at Contact to help create a small archive of these strange times. You can start with Week One, Day One or jump in any time, responding to the prompts that chime with you.

Although we know that sometimes you need to distract yourself from what’s happening, with this project we’re asking you to spend a little bit of time each day creatively taking notice of what we’re living through, and reflecting on how you are feeling. Maybe you would even like to share and complete these prompts remotely with friends and family, especially those who don’t have online access or who might need a boost.  

Share with us @contactmcr across our social media channels, using #TakeNotice and #AWeeksNotice, or send your responses direct to our Health and Science Producer Chloe on chloecourtney@contactmcr.com or on 07585 809230.

Some of the artists have created videos to either explain their prompts or show their own creative responses. We have hosted these videos on either our Instagram or YouTube, or both and added links here. Where a video is on both Instagram and YouTube, we have provided both links.

The Final Prompt – Adam Ali + 64 Million Artists

The seven weeks of A Week’s Notice have finished, so we’ve asked one final artist to set us a prompt (it’s prompt number 50!) in collaboration with 64 Million Artists and their #CreatetoConnect challenge. Here is Adam Ali’s challenge.

“Let’s make time for something we would otherwise take for granted. Our local hidden heroes and their constant acts of kindness. History books might fail to mention their name, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave a legacy. I would like to encourage you to take this opportunity to think about your hidden hero and a way to take notice of their hard work and impact. Once you’ve chosen someone from your community, from your family, or from history, then celebrate them! Tell their story to someone else you know, draw their picture, or share their hidden histories with us. 

Who are the people around you who you think should be more celebrated – for what they are doing now, or have done in the past?”

You can read responses from Adam and others, plus more details on 64 Million Artists here.

Week Seven: Hamdi Hassan

Hamdi Hassan writes and produces music as HMD. Born in Mogadishu, and raised in Manchester by way of Denmark, HMD’s experiences and heritage have shaped his perspective on the world and life in inner-city Moss Side. Hamdi is a Level Up facilitator for Contact, and recently curated immersive exhibition See My Dunya, which focused on the Somali-British experience.

Monday 4 May – Day 1: Yoga

If you can, today’s prompt is to try some very low-key yoga stretches. Try Child’s pose, Cat/Cow and Cobbler pose (research these or watch Hamdi’s video for tips). What’s your favourite yoga pose? It could be real, or a yoga pose you’d make up to suit you.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Tuesday 5 May – Day 2: Rhythm

Take notice of your rhythm with some table top drumming. Take a pencil (or other appropriate drumstick) in one hand and hold a coin in the other. Tap 1-2-3-4 with the pencil. On every 3 tap the coin too. On every 1 slap the table with the heel of the hand that’s holding the coin (the part where the hand meets the wrist) – this acts as your kick drum. Practice this with your favourite songs and see if you can keep the rhythm.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Wednesday 6 May – Day 3: Self-Portrait

Draw a self-portrait of you, as you are today. Watch Hamdi’s video for a GCSE art class-inspired tip.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Thursday 7 May – Day 4: Reading

Set yourself a reading target that feels honestly achievable. 5 minutes every day? A poem a day for 3 days? A chapter today?

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Friday 8 May – Day 5: New Skills

Learn a small (and possibly useless) new skill. Suggestion: fingerslapping. See Hamdi’s instructional video.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Saturday 9 May – Day 6: Breakfast

Cook yourself breakfast. Check out Hamdi’s video for a suggested recipe.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Sunday 10 May – Day 7: Relaxing Improvements

Do one thing today to make the space you’re in more relaxing.

Watch Hamdi’s video here (YouTube)

Week Six: Jake Bowen

Jake Bowen is a stand-up and theatre maker based in Manchester. He’s currently part of Contact’s Future Fires programme and is developing a series of comedy workshops for men who, like him, have lived experience of the justice or care systems.

Monday 27 April – Day 1: Calm to Chaos

Listen to either a piece of calming music or a piece of chaotic music. Use this piece of music as a jumping off point to freewrite for one minute. Write without stopping for just a minute, using the music as a prompt.

Watch Jake’s video here (Instagram)
Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

Tuesday 28 April – Day 2: Kill Your Ego

Choose an iconic photo, image or character and try to recreate it from home. But give it a dishevelled lockdown spin – celebrate your isolation beard, your loungewear or your ‘too many Zoom calls’ wide-eyed stare.

Watch Jake’s video here (Instagram)
Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

Wednesday 29 April – Day 3: Reach out and…?

Think of five artists or entertainers you like. Write each of their names on an individual piece of paper. Put each name into a hat/box/cup/etc and draw them out at random. Try and send each artist a message of support over social media to let them know you think they’re great. If you can’t reach them that way, then enjoy some of their artwork today instead.

Watch Jake’s video here (Instagram)
Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

We know just how important messages of support can be at this time, and we also have a few words today from our Artistic Director Matt Fenton:

“The role of the artist has never been more important, or more vulnerable. We need to support artists to continue exploring how we connect, tell stories and imagine in this new reality, and how we care for ourselves and each other.

More than ever, the young people we work with need us to strive to include everyone, represent all communities and identities, and ensure no voices go unheard.”

Thursday 30 April – Day 4: OoOo, that’s Deep!

This is a wellbeing activity, where you find somewhere quiet, get comfy, cover your eyes and spend a moment recalling your fondest memories out loud. Record this however you want – a video, a voicenote, or in writing afterwards. Share your memories or hold them just for you as a keepsake.

Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)
Watch Jake’s video here (Instagram)

Friday 1 May – Day 5: Jack of all Trades

Spend exactly five minutes researching an artform that is new to you – something you haven’t tried before. Then spend another five minutes making a performance/piece of art using this artform.

Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

Saturday 2 May – Day 6: The Plan always Wins

We sometimes get asked what our ‘Five Year Plans’ are – where do you see yourself in five years? It can be hard to make a Five Year Plan at the best of times, let alone in lockdown. So how about making a Five Minute Plan? Then a Five Hour Plan? Look ahead as far as feels helpful to you – you might get up to five days, five weeks, five months or five years depending on what you find useful.

Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

Sunday 3 May – Day 7: Cue the Intro

You might be watching a lot of TV sitcoms right now. Imagine Friends in lockdown or Community but the college is closed. Today’s prompt is to think of how your character would be introduced if you were in a comedy sketch or sitcom. Would you turn to the audience with a ‘Didn’t see you there!’? Do you have theme music? Are you more Fleabag or more The Office?

Watch Jake’s video here (YouTube)

Week Five: Tammy Reynolds

Artist Tammy Reynolds, wearing red and orange (with pink sunglasses) holds a microphone and a doll

Tammy Reynolds refuses to write in third person. I go on a stage and sing/dance/speak/scream/shout/eat my trauma. I  make money from it. I’m sometimes Midgitte Bardot. I sometimes wear clothes. I’m always disabled. I’m always a dwarf. I sometimes enjoy it.

Monday 20 April – Day 1: Make a shrine

Make a shrine. This could involve candles, incense, flowers, grass, onions, feathers, salt, eggs. Anything. It can be dedicated to a specific object you love or it can just be an array of items arranged in a way, where you place a deeper and wankier meaning. Use it as you wish, try and keep it in tact or add to it over the week.

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Tuesday 21 April – Day 2: Make a new tradition

Establish a new normal. Give yourself a new kind of tradition or create a small daily ritual. It could be as simple as looking in the mirror each morning and touching your nose. It could be connected to your shrine if you made one yesterday. Something to just start your day acknowledging yourself in it.

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Wednesday 22 April – Day 3: Name your guilt

Give your guilt a name. Many of us are feeling forced into a corner of productivity and time management. Give a name to that voice in your head who claims you could have done more today, or maybe less. Write the name on a piece of paper. Maybe draw your guilt. Then fold up the paper real small and use it to balance that wobbly piece of furniture.

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Thursday 23 April – Day 4: Dance

Dance. Maybe imagine you’re rubbing it in the face of that bitchy guilt from yesterday. When I say dance, I mean however you move your body, face, hands – anything to music or vibrations Maybe video yourself and play it back (make sure you credit the music so you don’t get in trouble – OR even make your own music if you so wish.)

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Friday 24 April – Day 5: Don’t answer

Someone is likely going to ask you how you are today. Try not answering. It’s hard to say how we are doing, and for me it doesn’t always feel very helpful to share my feelings as much as I am at the moment. Instead, offer an interesting fact or pose a question about how something is made, and find out the answer together.

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Saturday 25 April – Day 6: Do Nothing

 

Sunday 26 April – Day 7: Return to the beginning

Go back to your shrine from Day One – or make a shrine if you haven’t yet.

Watch Tammy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Week Four: Suriya Aisha

Suriya is an artist and community activist. As a disabled person she is the founder of multi artform project #sickbabe which champions the voices of womxn and nb people living with invisible disabilities.

Monday 13 April – Day 1: Horizontal

“As a #sickbabe I spend a lot of time lying down, or what I’ve nicknamed – ‘horizontal’. Though I’ve found this to be a great chance to test out my new skill of see how many things can you do lying down. Have a go today, at trying a few things horizontal”

Watch Suriya’s video and response here (Instagram)

Tuesday 14 April – Day 2: Outfits

“When you’ve been inside for a while donning jogging bottom couture, you might not feel your flyest. Do you have a ball gown in your house? Maybe a fire outfit you were saving for pride or just a day you wanted to show off and out to everyone? Put it on – that’s it. If you want you can flex. If you sit on your bed and eat crisps in it, that’s fine too. It’s good to change up the fabrics on your skin. Turn up for you!

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about ‘reminding themselves they’re real’. Invisibility is something a lot of disabled folks feel, in society, but also often to themselves. So much of our identity is (non-judgementally so ) shaped by how we exist and are seen in the world. Seeing myself in a new way, reminds me there are lots of different realities I can ‘be’ in. Even as someone who is always sick”

Watch Suriya’s video and response here (Instagram)

Wednesday 15 April – Day 3: Food

“First things first, read up on the #spoontheory. Your sick friends will thank you. This will also help you with today’s prompt. When I’m tired TIRED I like making what I call ‘low spoon snacks’ (today – fresh crispy lunchables on a bed of oranges ) often that require minimal effort and stop me from slungry (this is when you sleep so much you forget to eat and you wake up seriously hungry).

What’s your low spoon meal or snack? Stop the slunger! There are lots of things chronically ill and disabled folks can feel ashamed about. Judging ourselves against mainstream expectations of ‘how our day is supposed to look’ can bring an unwanted pressure on days when we barely have enough energy to stand up. For me this can trickle all the way down to what I eat. I love food, but some days it’s just about a childhood snack that brings me joy/whatever I can pop together that will give me some fuel for the next few hours. You might be feeling something similar right now, it’s good to have some go to #lowspoonmeals. This is something that @makedaisychains refers to as #boringselfcare, which has helped me loads over the years, and during this uncertain time might help you too – check out the hashtag.”

Watch Suriya’s video and response here (Instagram)

Thursday 16 April – Day 4: Milestones

“Lots of us will be celebrating milestones differently during #lockdown, which isn’t unusual for disabled and sick folks in their everyday life. However! You can decide what a ‘milestone’ is, maybe it’s the day you committed to pushing through an episode of something you initially found boring? Finishing that chapter you wanted to get through? If you’d like to, share your lockdown milestones with us and even throw a mini party/celebration for yourself today with whatever you have in your house.”

Friday 17 April – Day 5: Make Some Noise

“Let out the sad energy with some noise! Your body can hold frustrations even If you don’t know it. The positive thing about being inside alone or with a few trusted people is you can make any random noise you like based on how you feel, and it will release some tension. Scream if you need to. Squeak in the shower, let it out!”

Watch Suriya’s video and response here (Instagram)

Saturday 18 April – Day Six: Appearances

“#sickbabes who live with invisible disabilities can be met with a lot of disbelief based on how they look and present. What assumptions have been made about you based on how you look? Reflect, share, don’t share, and think about how we can all be more curious about each other over jumping to conclusions.”

Sunday 19 April – Day Seven: Childhood

“So my final prompt is about – bringing your childhood self alive! Being inside for a while can make you feel vulnerable in ways you didn’t expect. Today’s prompt is about leaning into that vulnerability and tapping into a childhood hobby. Mine’s lego and crash bandicoot! What’s yours?”

A photo of Miray Sidhom, wearing a black beret with braided hair and a beige coat, against a green leafy backgroundWeek Three: Miray Sidhom

Miray is an emerging artist based in Manchester. She combines movement, poetry and audio/visual content to create thought-provoking experimental theatre. She is currently working on a show titled BREAD, exploring the staple food as a footprint of humanity, and tracing its history from her Egyptian ancestors to the present day.

 

Monday 6 April – Day 1: Bread Is…

Everyday objects become more interesting the more you think about them. Take a loaf of bread for instance. At first glance, it’s simple, dull, dry but full of potential. It’s an invention, a mixture of flour and water. It’s a craft, a science and the best thing since…itself?

Now that Miray has got you thinking about bread, today’s prompt is to write a short poem beginning with the words ‘Bread is…’ Is bread a scarcity for you right now? Have you turned to baking as a form of self-care? Is your freezer full of bread? Give us all the loafy details!

Tuesday 7 April – Day 2: The Daily Scale

Although days in lockdown can start to feel the same, each one is filled with moments and emotions that make it distinct. These range from the unfortunate (spilling your tea, stubbing your toe), to the frightening (the feeling of impending doom), to the delightful (the sun on your face, a first sip of wine after a monotonous day).

For today’s prompt, Miray wants you to think of the best thing and the worst thing that happened that day, as markers for your own Daily Scale.

Wednesday 8 April – Day 3: Forgotten Corners

Even in a space you occupy every day, there is always an area of it you see less of. Where is the forgotten corner in your home? A space you don’t see much? Describe it from memory as well as you can, then enter it and describe what you see.

Watch Miray’s video and response here (Instagram)

Thursday 9 April – Day 4: Planet Window

The window is like the second TV you sometimes forget you had. What’s going on outside your window? Describe it in the style of Sir David Attenborough. Miray realises this is a mammoth task…but why not, eh?

Watch Miray’s video and response here. (Instagram)

Friday 10 April – Day 5: Pandemic Playlists

There are few situations that aren’t enhanced by music. Create your own pandemic playlist to share with someone you love.

Saturday 11 April – Day 6: Time Capsules

It feels like our lives right now will one day be a history project for Year 8s. Today’s prompt is to write a letter about life in lockdown to be kept as a tiny time capsule for future generations (feel free to tea-stain them for a nice antiquey finish).

Sunday 12 April Day – 7: A Tale of Two Objects

Every object can be beginning of a new story. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss ‘It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become’

What’s your favourite thing in the room? What’s your least favourite thing in the room? Today’s prompt is to create a story about the relationship between these two things.

Amy Vreeke: student survival tipsWeek Two: Amy Vreeke

Amy Vreeke is a comedian and theatre maker based in Manchester. She’s just finished touring my solo show ‘The Year My Vagina Tried to Kill me’ and she is intrigued to see how this current situation changes the work she and we make.

 

Monday 30 March – Day 1: Your Worst Idea

What’s the worst idea you’ve had to fill your time while in lockdown? Can you take that worst idea and make it into the best by rethinking way to do it, or how it could be added to?

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Tuesday 31 March – Day 2: Your Worst Movie

Think about the worst apocalypse film you’ve ever seen. Can you write a review of it?

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Wednesday 1 April – Day 3: A Useless Object

What’s the most useless appliance or thing in your house? Something you haven’t used for ages. Find a use for it.

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Thursday 2 April – Day 4: Good Things

Pick a room in your house. Write down three good things that have happened in that room, or that are in that room. Then think of three more things you’d like to have happen/have in that room.

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Friday 3 April – Day 5: Keep Laughing

What have you been doing to keep yourself laughing during isolation? We all love a meme, but is there anything you’ve been doing outside of screentime? Jokes with with your housemates? Could you share these with someone new today to make them laugh?

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Saturday 4 April – Day 6: Creative Spelling

What is the word that you can never seem to spell right? That name you can never remember? Find it, learn it, commit it to memory – then use it in a very short story.

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Sunday 5 April – Day 7: I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

What is something that you do in your own home that you think you deserve more credit for – from others, from yourself or from the world? Imagine you’ve been given an award for that thing, and write your acceptance speech.

Watch Amy’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Amy’s video and response here (Instagram)

Week One: Ali Wilson

Ali is a theatre maker, dramaturg and arts producer based in Manchester. She creates mainly devised work. She is currently developing OVER MY DEAD BODY, a show made with her Mum which was due to be performed at Royal Exchange on Saturday 4 April but has had to be postponed.

Monday 23 March – Day 1: Dress How You Feel

How are you feeling today? Joyful? Tired? Quiet? Confused? Relaxed? Put together an outfit from your wardrobe that displays how you feel and go about your day in your new get-up. Use bed sheets or other household items if they suit your feelings.

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)

Tuesday 23 March – Day 2: Rewrite a Song

Change the words of a well-known song to reflect your experience of lockdown, social distancing or isolation. Share the reworked lyrics or even record yourself performing your version.

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Ali’s video and response here (Instagram)

Wednesday 24 March – Day 3: Love your Stuff

Make a list of the objects you love in your home. Tell them you love them, if you like. Share a list of the objects you love, or tell us about your favourite.

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)

Thursday 26 March – Day 4: Draw the good times

Find a photo you love in your home or on a phone/laptop/device. Have a go at redrawing the photo on a piece of paper or recreating it in your own way. Share your drawing (include the original photo if you would like).

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Ali’s video and response here (Instagram)

Friday 27 March – Day 5: DANCE O’CLOCK!

Set a number of alarms on your phone, for example 12pm/2.30pm/5pm/7.30pm. When each of these alarms goes off, stop what you’re doing and dance, move or sing along to a song that suits your mood at that time. Share a song choice with us. (@contactmcr on every social platform)

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)
Watch Ali’s video and response here (Instagram)

Saturday 28 March – Day 6: Isolation Inspiration

Take notice of 10 tiny things that happen inside or outside your home. For example: the black cat licks its paws, Mum yawns, the door slams. Build a script or short story around these 10 tiny things. Share the text, or record your text’s first performance.

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)

Sunday 29 March – Day 7: Thank yourself

It’s the end of the week. Thank yourself every time you make yourself something to eat or drink. Pouring a glass of water counts!! Tell us how many times you thanked yourself today.

Watch Ali’s video and response here (YouTube)

The Illustration

The illustration for A Week’s Notice is by our Leadership Projects Co-ordinator Rose Sergent. Rose also runs Drawn Poorly, which provides arts opportunities focused on chronic illness, disability and mental health conditions. You can join the Drawn Poorly social group on Facebook here

With A Week’s Notice we’re also hoping to learn lessons about different ways to connect with artists and audiences who are regularly isolated at home, and who may not be able to access our live events and participation programmes at Contact.

If you enjoy this project and would like more creative prompts to do at home, follow @TheHorsfall @funpalaces and @64M_artists today.

A Week's Notice. The words are surrounded by illustrations of books and other household objects