In December 2020 we successfully applied for a grant from Devon County Council’s Covid-19 rapid response fund to set up a project to keep people connected and support mental health and wellbeing during the third coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier in the year the seed of an idea came up in a meeting, for a project that people could work on at home towards the time when we could be together at the Bridge again. The seed grew into the Rhino Project, a collaborative art project to create a gallery of rhinos, in recognition of our rhino Bridget who has continued to inhabit the Bridge building in our absence.
Bridget originally came to the Bridge when we took part in the Great Big Rhinos Trail organised by Paignton Zoo in 2016. Our rhino was collaboratively decorated and displayed in the city, returning to the Bridge when the event ended. She has become a prominent presence in the Bridge, as well as having come with us to some outside events, and so has seemed to take on a personality of her own and also to represent something about the Bridge.
“Bridget herself is covered in artworks, created by members of the community, expressing a collective strength within individual diversity. She seems to be channelling the wisdom collected over time of those involved in this project and those whose lives have inspired it. Rhinos are both an endangered species and fearful animals when threatened.” Kevin Walker 2018
This extract, from a thesis written by Kevin who taught some W.E.A. psychology courses at the Bridge, encapsulates both something of Bridget’s ‘meaning’ in the Bridge community and a reminder of our interconnectedness with the fragile natural world, fearful when threatened, and endangered: “none of us is safe until we are all safe”.
The Rhino Project was planned as a way of making something for the future, and bringing people together in a shared activity while many of us were separated from friends and family, and from each other as members of the Bridge community.
Those who took part were a wide group of people, including some participating in a Bridge Collective project for the first time, and friends and family members joining in. This sharing with a wider community, and bringing contributions from those who, including some children, do not usually access or visit the Bridge, feels additionally special and valuable.
22 April 2021
Some Rhinos were contributed anonymously, some with names given for the rhinos but not the artists.