Without friends no-one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.
Aristotle

How should we make friends, keep friends, lose them?
What happens to friendships as we get older?
Do boys and girls, men and women see friendship in the same way? What is the true nature of friendship?

 

To explore some of these ideas about friends and friendship, artist Sharon Marsden from verd de gris worked with groups of women and girls from three different community groups in East Salford. The Love Your Friend as You Love Yourself exhibition was a celebration of their work and the range of arts activities that took place over a 12-week period.

As part of the project Sharon encouraged the women and girls to discover different ways of expressing how they feel about their friends and what friendship means to them. To do this she employed lots of different arts activities including:

stencilling, painting, collage, print and felt-making.

Sharon really wanted to get the women and girls to relax and enjoy playing with colour and materials – swatches of blues, reds and yellows, scraps of cloth, bundles of leaves, stream of conscious writing – to see how different shapes, colours and forms can express different moods and feelings associated with friendship.

This kind of approach helped the participants tap into their ‘inner creativity’; it builds confidence and allowed the women and girls the space to celebrate their own designs and creative ideas.

We wanted the exhibition ‘audience’ to be part of the project too – we wanted them to think about their friends and friendship and to ask themselves some of the questions we asked the women and girls.

Firstly, we wanted people to think about what makes a really good friend and how we distinguish between acquaintances, friends and best or close friends. See if you can answer some of the following questions:

  • Who was your first friend and when did you meet?
  • Do you prefer to have a couple of close friends or a big group of friends?
  • Do you have any special friends? Why are they special to you?
  • How often do you see your friends?
  • How do you keep in contact with them?
  • Do you miss them when they are not around?
  • What is the definition of a true friend?

Having friends can also be quite tough at times – sometimes we feel that friends might let us down or we might feel left out and not part of a favoured circle of friends. See if you can answer this next set of questions:

  • How important is it for you to make friends?
  • Is there anyone you feel you can’t be friends with? Why?
  • Do you feel that friends need to come from the same school, faith, community as you?
  • Have you ever had to move and leave behind a really good friend?

What does this tell us about the nature of friendship?

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