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).
A couple of weeks ago I took a group of Year Seven students from Alder Community High School into Hyde Town Centre to do some urban sketching. We spent the morning wandering around the Civic Square and Clarendon Square Shopping Centre drawing interesting buildings, objects and views. Lots of the group opted to draw the beautiful Hyde Town Hall, with the clock tower being a favourite part of the building.
We also went inside Clarendon Square Shopping Centre (not just to warm up!) and did some quick drawing exercises, doing sketches in 1 minute and 5 minutes to try and loosen up our drawings.
We then returned to the school, had a little lie down to recover from the walk back and went for lunch! In the afternoon, we created imaginary high street scenes on large sheets of cardboard, drawing and then painting them. We didn’t get them finished so some of the group stayed behind for Art Club to do a bit more work on the paintings.
We did however make the local paper (fame at last!). Here’s a link to the Manchester Evening News and here’s a few of the group’s brilliant drawings. Thanks to Alder Community High School – I’m hoping I can return to do some more work there.
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.
Waste Creative, the recycling project run by Woodend Artists and funded by Recycle for Greater Manchester has come to the end of it’s first phase. The project consisted of a series of workshops based around using rubbish creatively and culminated in the production of an information pack and DVD about recycling. The project also included a visit to the Materials Recovery Facility in Manchester, composting workshops and choosing some local recycling champions.
The project was launched at New Charter’s head offices in Ashton-under-Lyne where we had an exhibition of all the artwork created, gave out the completed packs and had a film premiere with the animations the group created. All the groups and their parents were invited to the launch along with the press and the funders.
A week later the project won the ‘Love where you live’ award from national organisation and environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
Below are some images of the artwork created during the project…
Have a look at the animations the kids created here…<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/53216286″>Waste Creative The Movie</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user14369968″>Woodend Artists</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
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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.
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…
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…
I’ve just been to a local youth partnership meeting and it’s caused me to reflect on the benefits of getting involved in your local community – in both a personal and professional capacity. At the meeting this afternoon were: councillors, representatives of the (very active and successful) residents association, housing association regeneration and community staff, youth workers / senior managers and various other bods, including me, an artist.
I’ve found getting involved and being active in your local community is a great opportunity to meet, not only local commissioners of community arts but also to develop stronger links, discover what’s going on in the area and gain advice and insight into projects and upcoming developments. Its also a good way of highlighting your own projects and activity and sourcing help and support for your own work.
On a personal note, I learnt about a gardening group that a friend might be interested in and that the Council are currently doing a consultation on local libraries and they haven’t had much response. So I’m off to the library this afternoon to wave my flag of support (not only is it brilliant for books but it’s a lovely warm place to work in too).
So – Tip of the Day: go to some local meetings. It might take up an afternoon when you could otherwise be earning money but it’s worth it to network and meet the movers and shakers…
Woodend Artists have been successful in gaining funding from Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) to deliver Waste Creative, a project aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about recycling and promoting the value of waste as a resource in our local community. Working with young people and residents from New Charter Housing in Tameside, Woodend Artists will run a programme of creative workshops and art events which will include designing an information pack, making an animated film and creating junk art and sculpture.
Richard Dawson and myself are the lead artists on the project and we were delighted to be successful in gaining funding to run Waste Creative. I think it’s a great way of getting the local community and young people involved in recycling in a way that’s interesting and creative. The project also includes a communal composting scheme and an initiative which will see local residents elected as Recycling Champions.
Waste Creative will culminate in a big launch and art exhibition at New Charter in Ashton-under-Lyne.
In the meantime, here’s some sculpture created from secondhand and waste materials which were produced in workshops run by Richard Dawson. The workshops were part of the GiveGetGo! Volunteering and Wellbeing Campaign I project managed and designed for Manchester City Council last year. I’ll post more on GiveGetGo! as this month a bus stop poster campaign designed by me is about to be run in Manchester city centre.