Julian is spreading kindness through creativity
Julian Wood, a local teaching assistant, has been interested in art and creativity “for years”.
By Charley Rogers
Around five years ago, Julian was cycling through a park in Easton, and noticed a message on a lamppost. “It just said ‘You look lovely today’, and it struck me how nice it was to read – a nice positive message. So that inspired me to start my own project.”
Julian called the project ‘The Art of Kindness’ and began making small pieces of art, including fabric shapes embroidered with positive messaging, small flags and animal prints that he leaves in public spaces around south Bristol and beyond.
“I attend a Quaker Church,” says Julian, “and one of the ideas I learned there is that everyone is valuable. It’s easy in our society to separate people – some are ‘beautiful’, some are ‘talented’. But that leads us to believe that some people aren’t important. So my message is that simply isn’t true - everyone is important, and everyone is valuable.”
Creativity also plays a big role in the project.
“I don’t have a background in art, but through the process of 12-step recovery, I’ve been exploring my own creativity. Because I believe that everyone is creative in their own way.”
The recent lockdown has brought a new significance to The Art of Kindness, and although it’s been a hard time for everyone, Julian has also seen some upsides. “There seems to be a greater sense of community coming out of the pandemic,” he says. People want to connect, but they’re also realising we need to think of others, help each other. The pandemic has obviously been awful, but it’s also been a boon for kindness.”
When lockdown began in the spring of 2020, Julian expanded his project to send out ‘kindness packages’ to people who were self-isolating, or “just needed a little bit of kindness”.
The packages include various items, such as flags with positive messages on and other art made by Julian, a poem from a local poet, and a Pukka tea bag.
“I have been out of work for a lot of the lockdown,” he explains, “so I’ve had more time to commit to The Art of Kindness. One of the things I wanted to do was reach people who may be feeling isolated or lonely during this time. I have asked the community to nominate people who might be in need of a little kindness, and I send out free kindness packages to them.”
As well as the nominated kindness packages, throughout lockdown Julian has been sending ‘Local Hero’ packs out to people who have been supporting the community through the Covid-19 pandemic. These include health care workers, teachers, and public park staff. “I recently sent out a hero pack to the staff of Victoria Park, who keep the park looking amazing year in, year out. In my eyes they’re heroes.”
Julian is looking for more nominations all the time. “I’ve just received funding to be able to send out 200 kindness packs through the BS3 Community Engagement group,” he says, “which will be great.”
Julian also plans to expand the project even further, by including family activities in the packs, and collating uplifting messages from the local community in a letter. “It’s nice for people to receive uplifting notes from local people,” he says. “It shows that there are others out there thinking of you, and it’s a nice little reminder that we’re all in this together.”
He is also looking for local businesses to collaborate with on the kindness packs. “Whether a business would like to donate something small, like tea bags, or to provide some funding, I’d love to hear from them,” he says.
To nominate someone to receive a kindness pack, or to get in touch about collaboration, call Julian on 07977 263011 or email on email@example.com.
More information on The Art of Kindness is available at www.theartkindness.org.uk and on social media @theartkindness
A free Art of Kindness window display can also be downloaded at bit.ly/bristolrocks.
Photos courtesy of Nicky Takes Photo