Richard Dawson of Arbarus and myself have finally got the Bromley Farm cast stone artwork installed! Consisting of three ‘totems’, the artwork was designed by young people from Bromley Farm in Congleton and features their artwork and cast hand shapes. The artwork spells out ‘Bromley Farm Community Centre’, with each letter created by taking a subject or item relevant to the area and incorporating this within it’s design. For example, the ‘B’ features a bear’s paw, which comes from a local story regarding a dancing bear.
The young people came up with the idea and created the original lettering in a series of creative workshops over the summer. Molds were then taken from their artwork to turn it into cast-stone panels to fit within the three pillars.
Following on from last year’s art project in Colshaw, myself and fellow artist Richard Dawson were asked by Cheshire East Council and Lime Art to return to the estate to run another project with the same group. Last year’s project focused on creating artwork for part of a concrete wall on the edge of the park. As the wall is (very) long and fairly unattractive, we decided it would be good to continue with this theme and create more artwork for the same wall.
Despite numerous and repeated predictions that the original artwork would get vandalised, only one part got burnt (a letter ‘S’ that was wrapped in varnished string) which was quite an achievement. As part of the second project, we were also asked to replace this ‘S’.
We worked for several evenings with the group of young people to come up with ideas and concepts for what the artwork could be. Then, during the October half-term we worked for three days to produce the work, which involved creating designs, large-scale drawing, using the fret saw to cut the shapes, sanding, painting and adding final detailing. Each group member produced a large scale ‘character’ that they drew, cut out of plywood and painted. We then took them away to varnish (the horrible, toxic, smelly bit) and brought them back to install on a freezing cold Saturday with the help of Steve from local housing association, Riverside.
As ever it was a pleasure to work with this group of young people from Colshaw. Their energy, enthusiasm and interest in the project made it an incredibly satisfying and rewarding project to work on. Yes, the group require a fair amount of discipline and control and it is hard work but the kids from this estate are some of the best I have ever worked with and I would choose to work with them again in an instant.
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Way back in October, I commented on a project I had recently finished on the Colshaw Farm estate in Wilmslow, Cheshire. More on this now…
The Colshaw Art Project was a pilot 8 week project initiated by Cheshire East Council and Lime, the arts and health organisation based in Manchester. Working with three artists, the young people from the estate would create some kind of public art for a long concrete wall in the park or ‘ramps’ as it’s known locally.
Myself, Kim Wiltshire and Richard Dawson started with a basic idea of creating some kind of lettering, possibly 3D, possibly using recycled materials but with the knowledge that we weren’t allowed to do ‘graffiti’. We ended up working with a group of challenging but enthusiastic young people aging from seven to 16 years, predominantly girls but some older boys too. They needed a lot of encouragement and support, which led to us really having to structure the workshops and think about behaviour management, health and safety and the logistics of working with 12-15 young people in a restricted space.
We started the workshops with a run through of The Rules (which they had written) and included obvious things such as ‘No Shouting’ and less obvious things such as one group member not being allowed to bite people…
Every week we ensured we had a diversionary activity whereby group members could stop what they were doing and move onto a different activity if they felt a bit restless. This was facilitated by students doing a community arts course.
We ended up with a fantastic bit of art that was created by young people from the estate from start to finish. They chose the word ‘Colshaw!’, they designed the letters from the shape to the decoration, they constructed the 3D forms, used drills, painted each letter and helped prepare the wall. They achieved a huge amount and should be proud of the finished artwork.