Monday, 31 October 2011

My month in Pictures...

October has seen a flood or illustration commissions for me so, for a change from my usual blog I thought I’d share some with you.

At the start of the month I was approached by Rochdale shopping centre to create some crafty creatures to celebrate Bonfire Night.  Here’s a fearful Fawkes and a adorable little lady munching on her toffee apple to wet your appetite before I run the kids activity this weekend.

Mid October saw spiders crawling up and down the woodwork during Touchstones ‘Tree-tastic Family Fun Day’.  Little fingers made scary spiders as we transformed old milk bottle tops into shiny shimmering spiders ready to decorate houses for Halloween.

By the end of October it was back to the drawing board as I completed a commission to celebrate the annual Big Draw for Oldham Art Gallery.  I designed and created an eight meter townscape of Oldham past and present ready for kids to colour and doodle. 

The community’s contributions during October’s closing weekend brought a vibrant flourish to the final days of the month.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New School Year, New stART!

September; the leaves on the trees turn from emerald green to copper coated auburn,  the sun is enveloped in cooler rays , there’s a nip in the air as it sinks from the sky earlier  and earlier.  But it’s not all changing landscapes and bitter winds, don’t nestle down into your duvet quite yet because September also heralds the launch of the new Workshops Programme at Art.Works!

Hot off the success of Summer Term I’m now booked out and geared up to offer an exciting range of art sessions across schools and community centres alike.  The new publicity went down a storm as schools eagerly booked their art fix for the new term ahead.  From felt making in Smallbridge, to silk painting in Middleton, family fun days in Rochdale to creative co-op classes  for school clusters, this promises to be the most action packed term to date!

But do not fear, swallow the panic, you’re not too late!  I am now taking schools bookings for the New Year, and adults won’t miss out either.  January sees the launch of Art.Works very fist Adult Craft sessions.  So grab your diary, dust off those dungarees (or whatever artistic costume takes your fancy), it’s a new term, new stART!

Download Felt Making Leaflet here.

Download Adult Workshop Leaflet here

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Summer Fun Come Rain or Shine

So the school holidays don’t necessarily mean day to day sunshine, indeed in these northern valleys just a glimmer of the sun’s rays causes a flurry of excitement.  But the damp dreary days of a Rochdlian summer couldn’t put a downer on the Art.Works summer if it tried.  And just as well as there was far too much animated play to be had.

From jumping in and out of character to entertain families at Touchstones to painting the people of the borough to celebrate a fest of festivals it’s been an action packed month from start to finish.
To set off the summer I ran art sessions in Rochdale’s Broadfield Park using nature to inspire some amazing artistic displays which we exhibited outside for passersby to enjoy.  Families had great fun as we discovered the magical beasties that inhabit Broadfield Park’s willowy trees and deep dark hedges.  Weaving magnificent materials together with our beautiful branches and wild flowers we created the most enchanting of creatures to ever crawl the planet. 

Throughout the summer I hopped back and forth in time on a time travellers’ yoyo as I took families on a journey into mysterious myths of Ancient Egypt.  From gruesome green gods to fantastical adorned pharaohs families were ready and raring to go, delving into Egypt’s beguiling past.

Jump forward a couple of hundred years and  I invited the families of Rochdale to hop on board the Touchstones Express and chug along train tracks back in time to the Victorian era.  We fantasised about riding donkeys along beaches, we booed and hissed at the Punch and Judy Show and we dipped our toes into the fresh waters of that well known holiday hotspot Hollingworth Lake.   Come again?  Why, the Victorian bank holiday Mecca of Hollingworth Lake of course!  Back in the day it was a hive of activity, the leisure line bringing visitors in their hundreds to soak up the atmosphere of Littleborough’s well loved lake.  And all this without leaving the comfort of an education studio...

And back to the present day Hollingworth Lake played hosted to yet another Art.Works activity on a rare sunny Sunday.  Rolling back my sleeves and squeezing my sponge I painted more tigers, lions and spider men this side of the Hollywood skyline, helping raise funds for Friends of Littleborough Station (FOLS).  Children were transformed from little angels to menacing monsters as their faces were painted and their new persona unleashed, with a little helping hand from yours truly.  Luckily those who missed their chance I ran several sessions for different organisations across the borough throughout the summer, so, if you did happen to see a tiger prowling down the high street there’s a good chance I’d seen him too!

So who needs the sun to shine when there’s so much colour and animation in an Art.Works summer of fun.  If we’d had the heat too this blog would be so sunny, you’d have to read it wearing your shades!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Out Of The Classroom And Into The County!

Just before the summer term drew to a close and classrooms up and down the country spilled out into the summer I took my characters out of the museum to into the community.  From Liverpool to Bolton, Middleton to Milnrow I had every area covered in my mission to mesmerise the people of Lancashire.
Year six pupils from schools across Liverpool took part in the fast paced performance ‘Oh What a Lovely War’.  They were evacuated, boarded a train, entered the dank and dingy atmosphere of the Anderson shelter, and even joined the home front, all without leaving the room.  

The Pupils adored meeting Margret the land girl, but when Mrs Dylan introduced them to local sheep farmer Mr Hingginsbottom, an evacuee host they were less than impressed.  Who wouldn’t want to spend sleepless nights slept on a hay stack at the back of a barn?  Kids, these days, they’ve got it made!  I took on each character making the pupils laugh, jump, cower and ‘pay attention’ in fine 1940s manner, even if all the characters looked peculiarly similar...

Back on the road again, another costume change and another character as I entertained Year Ten pupils taking part in a Further Education residential at Bolton University.  Elegantly dressed and simply eloquently spoken I played the part of Head of Music, wife to the murdered Head teacher at Hassalholf High School.  Cryptically guiding pupils (many a melodramatic hand to forehead and bemoaned sigh) through clues and information I helped them weave their fragments of knowledge together and find the dastardly culprit.  Lots of dramatic outburst, hot gossip and scandalous accusations rebounded through the day, proving just the right amount of entertainment to engage tired teenagers at the end of their four days away.

But it wasn’t just children and young people who took part in the dramatic events of June and July.  One blistering hot Sunday in early July, I polished my boots; I picked up my cane and scowled a sour glower as I went in search of communities to take part in the infamous ‘Miss Grim Victorian Schoolroom Experience’.
Running the session as part of a day of acting and celebration to mark Middleton’s New Heritage Trail  over 80 adults and children in total entered Middleton’s Old Grammar School.  Immediately they were escorted back in time as I ‘taught’ them the rules and practice of a Victorian classroom.  Even the Mayor was quaking in his boots as his idle chatter was met by an instantly silencing stare from Miss Grim.

Apprehension mounted as more ‘inadequate pupils’ failed to meet the  high standards of the classroom, the finger stocks and close proximity of the cane soon put heed to nervous laughter.  But, I’m told fun was to be had by all, and once the real ‘Miss Grim’ (or a far sunnier Cat) emerged at the end of the session the relief was palpable in the room!

So, Art.Works doesn’t just deal with pictures and painting (which I’ve also been doing with schools this term), and the characters may not just be kept closeted away in the classroom.  Be warned readers, next time you attend a heritage open day, the dunce hat might just be one you!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Stories behind the School’s Silks

So does art really offer a therapeutic release? If you came to Brownhill Learning Community last week you may have thought so.

Brownhill is a small specialist school, based across three sites in Rochdale. It works with pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties. According to the school’s mission statement Brownhill:

‘Tolerates a wide variety of behaviours (but does not accept them as inevitable and unchangeable)’

And yes, there may have been secure fencing, there may have been aggressive outburst from beyond the art room walls, some disgruntled looks as the lads entered the room. But once inside pupils participated and produced some amazing silk painting.

Last month pupils across each learning site explored themes of UNICEF’s ‘Rights and Responsibilities’, and they animatedly illustrated the conventions. From
dripping clean water taps to secure and safe housing, the charter was brought to life through their considered depictions. I had the daunting task of sieving through the images, selecting pictures to draw onto six delicate silks.

And last week we brought the simple silks to life, they simply bound with colour and texture! Each fragment of the silken canvas’ painted with such care and consideration it makes Michael Angelo look like a cow boy decorator!

So don’t just mar each ‘bad lad’ you see hanging round the street corner with the same brush, he might just be a dedicated artist committed to creating some sensational silks...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

An Easter Egg-travaganza in the Park

Easter activities sprang into action on Tuesday when Littleborough Library
played host to an egg-citing afternoon of craft, play and explore.

The kids where queuing around the door as the sun enticed people to Hare Hill
Park. Families and friends were ready and rearing to go, taking part in the
Great Easter Egg Treasure Trail, weaving around the gardens, into daffodils and
through the tulips.

Carefully crafted Easter bonnets where displayed with pride. The judge looked
on with nervous apprehension, as the bonnets became even more elaborate as
the afternoon progressed, the thought of so many expectant eyes desperate to
be crowned best bonnet loomed ever closer...

Children and adults alike delighted in crafting a beautiful Easter bunny or chick
pen topper with Art.Works, fashioning fabulous designs ready to add a little
sparkle to their writing tasks back home. From polka-dotted chickens to patch
work bunnies, the library became littered with more paper pets than there are
lambs in the Littleborough landscape!

The enjoyable afternoon was rounded off as I was given the tricky task to
judge the Easter bonnet competition. As the crafters waited patiently I tip-toed
around the hats noting delicately weaved ribbons, fluffy chicks springing out
of eggs and even a fancy fence following the brow of the bonnet. Competition
was though; the children crossed their fingers while the judge looked for the
nearest emergency exit! Never before have I felt the eyes of of so much nervous
anticipation waiting beyond the windows of the judging room.

But as the winners were announced and the bonnets applauded all had to agree
each and every hat was a fantastic piece of inspiration. And, what with the
treasure trail, the creative craft, the face painting, the quizzes, the prices, the
teas, the coffees, the orange squash everybody trailed out of Hare Hill Park
simply brimming with the joys of spring. What a simply cracking afternoon!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Six Splendid Silks

Splendid! Surely it’s the only way to describe such a sensation week at Holy Trinity Primary School in Littleborough. Nowhere else would you see such super children, such dedicated designers, such enthusiastic artists, such a happy facilitator.

As the sky finally allowed the sun to break through, and bright daffodils crept through thawing ground, I walked to work with a spring in my step, creating six splendid silks with the eager pupils. Having drawn up their designs over half term I enjoyed working with children across the school to create silks which shine brightly with creative care and attention.

Before half term pupils of Holy Trinity designed the beautiful silk banners to illustrate each season of the church’s calendar. From Advent to the Epiphany, Lent to Easter each season was brought to life through the pupils’ animated designs.

Over three days the pupils selected gracious shades to sweep across the silk learning how to blend, mix and merge inks across the delicate silks. Only such avid care and attention could result in such truly inspiring banners which illustrate the liturgical calendar.

Kean to enhance the intricate banners I then enjoyed sewing the silks onto backing material ready to hang in time for the next church celebration, Lent.

And the only downside of the project? Handing back the beautiful banners to the school! Thanks to all the gifted children who took part, their church service will shine all year round.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Have a Hammer over Half Term

So, half term, a time for sitting back, reflecting, watching the rain drum against the window pane?  Excuse me!  I don’t think so, and nor do the participants in Art.Works half term fun packed arts sessions either I’ll have you know!

I’m pleased to announce last Monday saw the members of St Andrew’s Parish, Dearnly brave the weather and come crashing into the church corridors, quite literally!  Over 30 members took part in a mass mosaic making workshop.  While some may think the church is a place for quiet contemplation and solitude the parishioners made the walls reverberate with their laughter, their industrious tile cutting and constant tea and coffee supplying.  Where else could you find a sixty year old grandmother brandishing a hammer (and safety spectacles I might add) on one side of the room, and a teenage Grandchild dutifully brewing up on the other?

We had an amazing amount of fun, as young guided the old and old chastised the older in a bid to create one cracking mosaic.  We may not have finished the board quite yet, but I for one am looking forward to another session, safe in the knowledge that I’ll receive a delicious slice of homemade cake to keep the energetic activity, and enjoyable chitter chatter,  flowing.
And that’s not all!  Thursday saw the creation of over 25 hand printed bags and T shirts as Art.Works delivered a printing workshop for Woodland’s Primary Half term activity programme.  It didn’t take long for the inventive youngsters to scribble down their ideas to create some sensation prints.

From t shirts splashed with puppy dog paws to bags which flaunted oceanic scenes in the sea, children created a great diversity of designs that would make even the buyers of Topshop squirm with envy! 

So, all this, and drawing up the designs for six lectern silk paintings recently commission for Art.Works, half term may not be a holiday, but for Art.Works it’s always brimming with fun!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Starting the Year with a Bang!

And a crash, and a whollop! Yes, all those who are keen followers of the blog will know I’m talking about mosaic making, full steam ahead!

It’s been over a year in the planning, but thanks to the dogged determination of Friends of Littleborough station’s (FOLS) Stuart Carmichael, the biggest mosaic to date is making all the right  noises along the Calder Line.

Back in 2009 FOLS approached Art.Works to make a mosaic, brightening up the platform for Littleborough’s train travellers.  Together we approached various funding bodies, and thanks to Stuart’s persuasive persistence funding came through thanks to the Yorkshire bank, STEAM and the Pennines Township.  Then the fun could really begin.

During the Autumn term local schools and community groups scribbled down their Milltown memories, all hoping to be included in the mosaic’s final design.  From canal barges chugging along the Rochdale canal to Sladen mill, one of the final factories of LIttleborough.  From quaking ducks to the village’s viaduct arches, the budding artist were keen no local landmarks would be left on the slag heap.  And the result?  It’s chugging along nicely thank you very much.

During January pupils from Alice Ingham, Holy Trinity and St Andrew’s Primary Schools have crashed and smashed tiles, they’ve meticulously fitted them together again to create a beautiful platform picture.  Their carefully produced masterpiece is guaranteed to  cheer any  bleary eyed Monday morning commuters.
But it’s not over yet!  

Art.Works is pleased to be running the final mosaic making session over half term with people just like you!  Art.Works and FOLS want locals to come together and make their mark.  

We will be running a community mosaic making session on Monday 21st February from 10am at St Andrew’s Church Hall,. Arm Road, Dearnley OL15 8NJ.  So why not come along to set your tile, make sure that next time the train’s delayed you’ll be proudly standing on the platform admiring your perfect picture.

For more information about the mosaic making session on Monday  21st February contact Cat Jessop:
Mobile: 07816168981