Introducing TOSH Team: Caroline Beale-Johnson

An insight into TOSH and BEAF's shared community projects in Boscombe, from our Projects and Events Coordinator for Community Programmes.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a photographer with many years’ experience in a wide range of photography genres, from commercial interiors and product photography to portraiture. I studied for a degree in commercial photography at Arts University of Bournemouth, where I am now a visiting tutor in photography and media. My personal project work has been exhibited in London and New York and focuses on storytelling through imagery.

In July 2021, I started working as Projects and Events Coordinator at TOSH, a partnership project with BEAF Arts Co, following a 5-year funding award received from the Lottery Community Fund.

What is your role as Projects and Events Coordinator?

As two creative and community focused organisations, BEAF and TOSH connect with many groups and communities, many of whom are based in Boscombe.  Whatever ability or experience, the partnership delivers workshops and events to inspire communities to create, and through this to help build confidence, skills and opportunities. The activities also help to support health and well being, particularly for those who feel isolated and lonely, providing an open and inclusive space where individuals can meet and socialise, At the moment we run 3 main projects, Young At Heart, connecting the elderly Polish community through English language classes, exercise classes, craft workshops and family events; The Outsiders Project, our longest running project, which began by providing weekly creative writing workshops for people in recovery and dealing with many complex health issues.  It now has developed to a much wider programme, including a monthly lock-in where participants meet to read and share their work, performances at the BEAF festival and touring performances to prisons and refuges. We have now added photography workshops to this project, and we hope to continue to expand into more artforms as the project continues to develop. Our third project, and one I have had most involvement in its development is Seeking Refuge.  This started as a photographic project for the BEAF 2021 festival, bringing together photographers with refugees and asylum seekers. The collaborative work produced was exhibited in 2021 and since then, Seeking Refuge has become an ongoing creative project, providing weekly workshops in textiles and photography as well as regular film screenings in BEAF’s cinema lounge in their Boscombe Arts Depot (B.A.D.).

We have just started a new project, developing the community garden and allotment on the land around TOSH and Gladstone Mews, owned by the Trust. We have now appointed the Community Garden Coordinator who will be developing this project with our local residents, the gardening group, local schools and volunteers.

What amazing things have you experienced/learned working on the partnership projects?

Having the opportunity to work with all the community projects that both organisations run has been incredible. Having the chance to provide creative outlets for so many people and witness their confidence and belief in themselves is something I am always in awe of. Each of the projects makes such a difference to all the participants. Recent feedback showed that these projects really bring people together and often relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness. I think TOSH provides such a welcoming, comfortable and safe space for the participants, they all comment on how they feel they belong in this space and enjoy the regular meetups and have really been made to feel at home here.

What do you feel your previous experience as a photographer and teacher has brought to your role?

I am grateful that I get to teach my lifelong passion, photography. As a lecturer and teacher, I recognise and nurture sparks of creativity, and love to ignite imagination, giving the participants the tools they need to communicate through images. The ethos of nurturing and kindness runs through all the projects delivered by BEAF and TOSH and it is so rewarding to see such positive results and to get so many local people involved and coming to our lovely building. Giving people a chance to attend workshops where we can support their creative talent is very enjoyable and the outcomes have always been way beyond my expectations.  I am also very excited to be working on projects which will be part of the BEAF 2023 festival and this is where all the hard work developed during the year will be turned into something amazing for everyone to see.

BEAF festival takes place from 16 - 25 June 2023.  For more information sign up to their newsletter and be the first to hear about events, tickets and how to get involved.

More about BEAF

More about Caroline Beale Johnson