The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is inviting local people to reconnect with one another via its Art Warming project which is inspired by themes of kindness and creativity.

Working with West Midlands mixed media artist Saadia Hipkiss, the company will create the Kindness Shop in an open air space in Bell Court in the centre of Stratford. Here, people will be able to safely partake in free arts-based activities - including the creation of large, colourful mandalas (large circular artworks featuring geometric patterns) which will then be displayed in Bell Court’s currently empty shops. 

Taking inspiration from the well-established and successful The Kindness Rock Project, the RSC will also ask people to share their messages of hope and kindness. Some of these will be painted on to rocks by Saadia and local volunteers and placed in a Stratford kindness garden in Bell Court. Other messages will be audio recorded and played in Bell Court as part of a soundscape, Stratford Says Thank You on Saturday 24 April to celebrate the final day of the Art Warming project and to coincide with Shakespeare’s Birthday.

On Saturday 3 and 10 April, between 10am and 3pm, the RSC Creative Placemaking team will set up the shop in preparation for the activities later that month. They will also be safely noting down people’s messages of kindness, and giving interested passers-by rock kits and mandala templates to colour at home and return to the shop. 

The Kindness Shop is expected to open alongside non-essential retail on Monday 12 April. Safely managed outdoor mandala colouring activities (limited to family units or ‘bubbles’ of no more than two people) will take place between 10am and 3pm from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 April and again on Saturday 24 April in Bell Court. 

Ida Ballerini, Creative Placemaking and Public Programmes Officer at the RSC, said: “We believe small things make a difference, and creativity and kindness can inspire, help and motivate others as we emerge together from a difficult year.  We look forward to reconnecting with the people of Stratford in April as part of this Art Warming project, and I can’t wait to see the colourful mandalas and hear people’s messages of hope.  We will use these to decorate Bell Court creating a beacon of better days ahead.”