The Filwood Fantastic Mini-Golf Club by Megan Clark-Bagnall Visual Artist // Social Maker

HIYA, 

My name is Meg. I’m a local artist based here in Knowle West. I live and work in my home & art studio both at the top of Novers Hill, and through this project I met a NEW next door neighbour for the first time. A lovely person who I didn’t know before lockdown! I think that’s been the main success of the mini golf project. It’s brought people together who didn’t know one another before the pandemic and strengthened friendships for those unable to logistically connect locally due to the lockdown. 

I describe myself as a Visual Artist & Social Maker because I make projects with strong visual elements and I make things happen socially with other people. Usually my projects start with a bit of crafting and a conversation. This project was no different. 

As we now head quickly towards Christmas and I’m warming my feet on the heater under my desk, the summer seems like a long time ago. But over the summer I became ClubHouse Manager Meg, and I even got a special hat made for the occasion!

2020 has been a tricky year for all! For me, all the art projects “on the cards” for this year rail roaded in early March and I was left pondering what I was going to do….

When the Filwood Fantastic team asked me if I could do some socially distanced “connection” work during Lockdown One with my community, I didn’t need to think too hard before an idea came to mind. I LOVE mini golf. I’m a fan of silly leisure activities. I actually have a sign on my studio wall that says “if it’s not fun, then what’s the point?” to remind myself that FUN is validation enough for doing a project. I think slowly the rest of the world is coming round to understanding the value of play. We’ve a lot to thank lockdown for. 

I digress…. So when Filwood Fantastic asked me to connect my neighbours together I asked if I could theme it around the upcoming Mini Golf Course. I knew the community had asked for funding to be spent on making a mini golf course locally and I thought it could be fun to cheerlead the BIG BUILD. I cheekily asked if my sessions could even feed the design plans for the BIG BUILD and Makala & Charlie agreed it would be a great way for the community to design the course! So it was born… The Filwood Fantastic Mini Golf Club. We had weekly ClubHouse meetings every Thursday at 4pm, including deliveries of mocktails and DIY refreshments. For the first session we all displayed our own ClubHouse signs and logged into zoom for an intro session to meet our neighbours. It was scary for everyone in ZOOM’s early days. But before long we had a regular tribe gathering for the online meet ups. Claudia the Caddie (otherwise known locally as Knowle West Beaches or The Grape-O-Gram) upscaled the deliveries. She turned her bike and trailer into a Golf Cart and delivered craft packs I put together so everyone could start making their own mini golf hole at home inspired by their household’s lockdown hobbies and interests. 

Each week different ClubHouse members took it in turns to showcase and share out their talents. One week, The Daly family hosted the meeting showcasing their Pokemon Mini Golf design to us, teaching us all how to look up our golfers’ names and 6 year old Niamh did an off the cuff anime drawing lesson for us all. She’s a brilliant teacher! Brother Henry, can also draw a great Pikachu picture and input some great designs for a lego inspired DIY golf course during an earlier meeting. At another meeting Suzie Davidon (who is going to be running the actual golf course when complete) gave us a master class in cooking the perfect fried egg. It even included controversial grill action. 

We’re a talented bunch, even if I say so myself. Our values board recognises some of the things we value and showcases the kind of artistes there are within the club… 
 
We value & are artistes of : 
– houseplants
– stone collecting 
– slurping drinks 
– dancing & procrastinating 
– drawing anime
– playing games & tech
– silly doodles
– knitting 
– hosting parties
– playing zelda
– telling stories
– hugs
– swimming 
– gymnastics
– baking 
– creativity 
– making things happen
– Lego 
– painting 
– bending wood
– great hairstyles
– making stuff out of other stuff 
– honesty & positivity
 

We were lucky enough to have some special guests join us… mini golf champions and fabulous couple Mr & Mrs Richard & Emily Gottfried who tuned into our ClubHouse meetings from their home up north. 

To round off the season of online fun, I hosted Meg’s MEGA Mini Golf Challenge. Everyone met online on a sunny Saturday morning to showcase their DIY golf holes for the competition. The winning design was Dan Alford’s Novers (g)Nasher which featured a manual crank turning a crocodiles mouth open and shut before swallowing the golf ball down an elaborate ramp & slide structure in his back garden. It was very Wallace & Gromit style and very worthy of the first prize. 

A few weeks later, I organised a local bakery to deliver cream teas for everyone. We huddled around the screen once more, this time welcoming the re:work team’s newly appointed carpenter Nic Marshall to see a presentation of our mini golf hole designs and in return he shared his technical design ideas for the real golf course. With a little help from mini golf champion Richard Gottfried we truly co-designed the new mini golf course, so in 2021 when it opens, it will tell the story of our local community!!

My hope is that the new golf course will demonstrate a peek into what goes on inside the houses and small communities of Knowle West, and showcase the many varied talents and skillets that lurk here!!

I know Nic Marhsall, Suzie Davidson and their team of volunteers are busy-ing away on construction. If you have any time to spare and would like to pick up some new crafting skills, please do get in touch with susan@reworkltd.org.uk to find out how & when you can help with the BIG BUILD of Knowle West’s first mini golf course. 

EEEEkkkkkk, I for one cannot wait until the (golf) doors are open and we can PLAY!

If you just can’t get enough of the golf, listen to me and Claudia on BBC Sounds here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08ldnn8

Bye for now, 

Meg 🙂