Case Study

Supporting Young Minds with Independent Arts


The Isle of Wight National Landscape Partner Independent Arts successfully delivered a public arts project for young people, an extension of an existing programme: Supporting Young Minds.

Funding from the Isle of Wight National Landscape provided an opportunity for young people in urban areas to shape an arts project inspired by the landscape.

A collaborative mural was painted in the Isle of Wight’s county town of Newport allowing young people to showcase their experiences of the thriving and beautiful landscape of Compton Bay. They also created a permanent piece of artwork bringing the landscape into an urban area for a new audience to discover.

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Owned by Independent Arts.

What was done

Arts for wellbeing charity Independent Arts began the project with an inspirational visit to Compton Bay, part of the Isle of Wight Heritage Coast. The group were taken by bus from Newport to Compton Bay, although only 10 miles away some of the young people were unaware this part of the landscape was accessible by public transport.

The group immersed themselves in the diverse landscape of Compton Bay, by making their own pigments, using clay, mud and vegetation which they used for mark making and image creation. The group were asked for words which expressed how they felt whilst creating art in Compton Bay, they said ‘Inspired, Relaxing, Peaceful, Happy, Calm’.

Back at Independent Arts’ Creative Hub the group set to work planning the mural composition and researching the typical marine and wildlife habitat found at Compton Bay.

Monochrome artist Laura Hathaway was selected by the group of young people to deliver the project. From the beginning the group were fully involved in the creative process; from preparing the wall, to planning the composition and finally painting the mural itself.

The young people had complete creative freedom, all with varying styles, skills, and techniques. The uniform look was achieved by using black paint on a white wall and by interspersing their drawings. They also added to each other’s work.

The striking and engaging mural is on permanent display for everyone to enjoy.

Project outcomes

  • Demographic: 50% of the Isle of Wight is a designated AONB. 94% of the population live outside the designation. As so few young people live within the AONB designation, Independent Arts focused on young people living in the surrounding towns.

  • Accessibility and environmental best practice: Public transport used to take participants from the town to Compton Bay.

  • Cohort and sessions: 7 x 5-hour sessions for participants aged 12-19. 10 participants engaged with the project, 8 regular participants.

  • Session design best practice: Focusing on a small group allowed our partner to deliver a focused and meaningful experience. Shaping and building connections to the landscape. The work reached a further audience via the production and sharing of a film documenting the creative process and final mural.
“Interestingly, one of the unexpected outcomes of working on the mural, in what would generally be thought of as the fairly bleak urban landscape of the long stay car park, was that the group became very aware of the richness of nature around the river there. A red admiral butterfly regularly landed on the mural, much time was spent watching ducks, and the group was excited to spot a hummingbird hawkmoth hovering by the buddleia.”

Supporting Young Minds participant.

Key learnings

  • Our partner – Independent Arts - clearly understood how to reach an underserved audience and developed a project that overcame physical and perceived barriers around engagement with the landscape.

  • This project empowered participants by allowing them to choose the artist to lead the project.

  • Public transport was used to highlight the accessibility of the Isle of Wight National Landscape.

  • The group had ownership of the project from the start and were involved in every aspect of the process.