The Bentley Library Chair has finally been unveiled at Bentley Library in Doncaster. A busy afternoon launch saw over 70 people attend to check out their textile artwork that had been lovingly and carefully (trust me!) upholstered onto a Parker Knoll Wingback Sofa.
This project has been one of my all-time favourites since I’ve been a freelancer – lovely people that I’ve become friends with, a meaningful process and a successful outcome. I think one of the reasons it was so successful was that I spent a lot of time getting to know the groups I was working with, doing research, working out what they wanted to do and also learning from them. If I’d had my way, we would be looking at images of a mosaic chair right now but the groups were very definite in their wish to create something textile-based – so we went with a patchwork sofa that eventually was made up of over 100 people’s artwork.
The artwork includes fabric painting, block printing, applique, knitting, crochet, patchwork, quilting, embroidery, woodwork, photography, digital printing, encaustic art, free-motion embroidery and machine embroidery – there’s probably more…
Everything was then sewn together and I upholstered the finished work onto the sofa, having stripped it first – I had to remove over 1500 staples to get back to the wooden frame! Now finished, it is going to live at Bentley Library as a story chair – though I secretly want it in my living room. Bentley Library – you know where to look if it ever goes missing!
The project was part of the Right Up Our Street research programme in Doncaster, which has just received another three years funding – well done everyone!
Woodend Artists have started the Waste Creative project with a series of workshops making animal sculptures from recyclable materials. Working with three different groups of young people from the New Charter estates in Mossley, artist Richard Dawson and myself, Jacqui Symons used milk bottles, plastic pop bottles and cardboard to create group sculptures of a wolf, a giraffe and an elephant and smaller individual sculptures.
The next part of the project is a visit to the Recycling Centre in Sharston, Manchester and then we’ll start to create an information booklet that will be for New Charter residents and will include information about recycling and what can and can’t be recycled.
Three weeks of frantic lantern making ended on Friday with a brilliant lantern parade on the Johnson Fold estate in Bolton. During the three weeks leading up to the event I worked with holiday clubs, Johnson Fold Primary School, a mums and tots group and the Youthopia Youth Club to create a multitude of lanterns. Most groups made the traditional pyramid lantern – we had almost 80 of these at the final count!
Youthopia also created some large-scale lanterns – the only rule was that they must be small enough to get out the front door of the youth club! Everyone really got into it and worked really hard to make some amazing shapes and characters out of withies – we had a fish, a shark, a dress, some headphones and an ice-cream amongst others.
I had to have a few late nights in the workshop (music as loud as you like once your neighbours have gone home – yippee!) tweaking, securing fastenings and adding LED tealights to get them all ready for the big day. I then had a tense couple of hours on Friday bringing the lanterms down on our (outdoor) hoist whilst the wind and rain raged but finally got them successfully delivered to Bolton At Home’s newly finished UCAN centre on the estate. Here’s some photos of the parade and the lanterns with the children and young people who made them.
For the next couple of weeks I’m working with lots of groups in Johnson’s Fold, Bolton to create withy lanterns for their lantern parade, organised and funded by Bolton at Home. Here’s one I made as an example…
I’m also about to start making some withy / willow sculptures with a New Charter group in Mossley, Tameside for the RHS Tatton show garden. One of them is going to be an enormous snowman, which feels entirely appropriate after the snow we had last week! I’ll be using brown willow for this so I’m currently soaking the withies in my lovely new ‘water trough’ – a perfect shape and size for the job. I’ll post a picture when I remember to take one…
Block printing and paper mosaics on the menu today…
We had a school gardening group in the morning and trainees from the Park Cafe in the afternoon. The Cafe provided us with a lovely buffet and afternoon tea and cakes!
Beautiful sunshine for our second day of creative sessions for the Hyde Park Community Orchard artwork. First, a game of Fruit Salad outside with a massive parachute, then inside for workshops with two consecutive groups of 30 children from Flowery Field Primary School. The groups created lots of mosaics – made from fruit (and veg) and also paper.
This year I’m working with New Charter on their show garden entry for the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park. New Charter works with residents and young people from their ‘Dream Scheme’ groups to create a garden for the Flower Show – two years ago their entry won a bronze medal so the pressure is on!
I’m working with young people to create different pieces of exterior artwork for the garden including mosaics, withy sculptures and painted pebbles. For the past three weeks I have been working with a group to create bug mosaics to make paving slabs.
We started off doing some designs and drawings of bugs and insects and also practicing how to make mosaics. We’re using the double indirect method, so the group are sticking their designs onto brown paper ready for transfer. I have found this is by far the best method to use when working with young people as it removes the need to use potentially hazardous grout and cement adhesive. Have a look at the work in progress…
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.