For the last three months, I’ve been working with community groups in Ashton-under-Lyne on a project based around illegal money lending. Aimed at educating and raising awareness about the dangers of loan sharks community groups created lots of textile patchwork art that I am in the process of upholstering onto a two-seather sofa.
Whilst similar in style to the Bentley Library Chair, this sofa features more drawing, writing and printmaking than the other one which had a lot more sewing, applique and other needlecrafts on – maybe due to demographics of the groups and also timescale of the project.
Funded by the national Illegal Money Lending Team, the sofa will be used around Tameside as an educational and promotional tool before going to it’s permanent home at Cashbox Credit Union in Ashton.
A bit of a departure this week from the usual visual and public arts stuff I do – I’ve ventured on stage! Don’t worry I wasn’t actually allowed to act, sing or dance (though I did pull a muscle trying to hula hoop on the first day…).
The project, based in Tameside, was to create a theatre piece based on The National Theatre’s production of War Horse. Working with young people from St. John’s Primary School in Dukinfield and West Hill Comprehensive School in Stalybridge, we put on a production at the beautiful Stalybridge Civic Hall on Saturday night called ‘Over the Wall’.
In the lead up to an intense week of workshops at the Civic Hall, StoneSoup and Arbarus worked with some of the students from St. John’s Primary School exploring themes, building prototype puppets and helping to prep the script. Then we arrived in Stalybridge on Monday morning with lots of ideas, lots of equipment and materials, seven artists of various descriptions, a fabulous empty space and 75ish young people.
By the time Saturday night’s 45 minute show in front of 250 people had finished (standing room only), everyone in the group had been involved in most parts of putting on the production including – the music, the acting, the set design and build, creating props, creating (and puppeteering) dog and bird puppets, making costumes, and lots of other stuff I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
The boys from West Hill School in particular were absolutely fantastic and really came into their own on the ‘art department’ side of things, essentially leading on a lot of the design, set-making and puppets with a massive amount of effort put in to get everything completed for the Saturday night deadline.
A special mention to the teachers and TA’s from both schools who got completely stuck in and were brilliant!
I was too busy to take any of the pictures myself, so another special mention to the young people of West Hill who took all of these photographs (apart from during the production – thanks to Richard Dawson of Arbarus).
Following six months of consultations, workshops, meetings, fabrication and lots of sanding, the Hyde Indoor Market artwork was unveiled on Saturday 6th April. As I’ve mentioned previously, the artwork consists of 3D letters which spell out the words ‘Hyde Indoor Market’, with each letter representing something different sold within the market.
In terms of fabrication the letters presented a variety of challenges as they all required different processes to complete them – these included mosaics, mould-making and casting, decoupage, illustration, knitting and painting to name but a few. Detailed images of each letter can be seen here on the Woodend Artists flickr page but I’ve included a select few below.
Last year, myself and fellow artist Richard Dawson were commissioned by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC) to create some artwork for Hyde Indoor Market. The aim of the commission was to increase knowledge and awareness of the market – we worked with the market tenants to come up with a design and concept and worked with local community groups to produce some of the artwork.
The final design is a sign that says ‘Hyde Indoor Market’, with each individual 3D letter depicting something sold within the market. The letters are a mixture of box frames containing various items, are clad in objects or have graphics applied to their surface.
This is the letter N, which depicts the ladies wear, menswear, footwear and jewellery stalls with an illustration of a wardrobe and the items contained within. The images show the first pencil drawing of the wardrobe and the inked-in versions and then the final one, which was scanned in, cleaned up in Photoshop and then colour rendered in Illustrator. The final letter has a wood effect finish on the sides, with a printed vinyl applied to the front with the illustration on.
Myself and Richard Dawson worked with local kids to make this amazing sculpture to celebrate the Jubilee in Hyde Park, Manchester. We made it in one day and everything is made from recycled materials (except for cable ties, brown tape and plastic tags).
The milk cartons mostly came from The Flying Teapot Cafe at Woodend Mill and the bottles from New Charter Housing Association. A few of the group worked all day on the sculpture with others dropping in and out throughout the day.
Here’s the finished Queen after we had a mini-coronation…