Tag Archive | creative workshop

Chester Zoo BumblebeeAbode

CZ-workshop-day

Since September last year, Arbarus and I have been working on a commission for Chester Zoo‘s new Bumblebee Garden to create a home for Bumblebees.  Based around a used garden shed, the structure houses a number of Bumblebee boxes to provide a safe, dry environment for the bees to nest in.

The project kicked off last year on a sunny day in September with a drop-in workshop at the Zoo’s Wildlife Connections Festival.  We worked with Chester Zoo’s visitors creating lots of artwork to decorate the outside of the shed, whilst learning about the best flowers to plant in your garden to attract bumblebees.

Over the winter, Arbarus did lots of research into the right type of home for bumblebees, designed and built the shed and then we worked together to finish it, using all the artwork created at the festival to decorate it.  The shed was installed on a chilly January day, to give it time to bed in and for the brilliant horticulture team to create the shed’s green roof and plant up around it before the queen bumblebees start to emerge.  We aim to return soon to get some pictures of the shed with some green around it, instead of just some January mud!  Fingers crossed that some bumblebees will have moved in too…

STOP PRESS!  Whilst we await with bated breath for good news from Chester Zoo, Arbarus has had success with his own bumblebee boxes.  Two of the homes are now occupied by queen bees and there is a quiet satisfaction in watching them go in and out of their nests…

It’s all about the RSPB this week…

Last weekend we had a lovely arts event at Dove Stone Reservoir, organised in collaboration with the RSPB.  Alongside specially composed music (played by Saddleworth School Brass Band and Greenfield Brass Band), there were lots of things going on, including dance, visual arts, poetry, wildflower planting and leaf printing.

Richard Dawson created some gallery style plinths that showcased artworks responding to the amazing landscape and environment at Dove Stone Reservoir.  These included a piece of gritstone, some water, a section of peat, acorns, a bumble bee and some honey bees.

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He also installed some tree drawing machines, whereby drawings are created by the movement of the tree’s branches in the wind.

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(For more of Richard’s work, have a look here)

Alongside facilitating a drop-in leaf printing workshop, I created some large-scale withy honey bees which were displayed in the wildflower meadow overlooking the reservoir.

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Mosaic Fish for RHS Tatton

The other artwork to be included in New Charter’s RHS show garden will be 45 mosaic fish, all swimming amongst the flowers and plants that represent the sea.  Each double-sided mosaic fish is mounted on a steel rod and they will be displayed individually and in shoals.  The fish were all made by young people from the New Charter Dreamscheme group and they look absolutely fantastic.  Here’s one I made as an example being ‘roadtested’ in my garden.

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And here’s the young people’s fish, grouted and ready to have their steel rod attached.  There’s a big complicated table which lists whose fish is whose – everyone that made a mosaic will get it back once Tatton has finished.

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Waste Creative starts

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.

The Big Green Recycled Queen

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…

Big green recycled queen

 

Johnson Fold Lantern Parade

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.

Lantern Parade and … it’s suddenly become Withy Central

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…