Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bobbins V Gravity - an art installation

I spent yesterday afternoon out in the park again with artist Andrew Martyn Sugars, as he created an amazing installation using string and bobbins.  The bobbins were donated by The North Mill and had been used when the mill was up and running.

This work was a development piece that grew out of a previous installation at The Eco Centre in Wirksworth and drew on Andrews own history of working with laser beams. We had a very soggy day which was thoroughly enjoyable, friends popped in and strangers stopped to chat with their inquisitiveness piqued.

I also took the opportunity to experiment with some of the pieces I've been crocheting to help explore future community yarn bombing projects.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Wild Art Session

I've just got home from possibly my most chilled out arts session ever,  I'll let the photos below do all the explaining.  But if you fancy coming down to the woods in Belper to relax, make stuff and chat, the next sessions are  on Thursday 14th August and Thursday 28th August.  You can email me on to find out more or book a place.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

Yarn Bombing

I've recently been introduced to the idea of yarn bombing and it really appeals to me.

There is something very playful about going out into the local community and covering things in wool.  I had a go at making pompoms last weekend and had forgotten how much fun they are to make, I am now imagining the trees in my high street covered in pompoms and all those ugly fences (you know them, every town has them) beautifully decorated with lace and crochet. There is a space outside my studio that is just crying out to be decorated.  I'm slowly formulating a plan for next years food festival in Belper to decorate some of those little corners that need some love. 

I found the images below on Pinterest and I'm not sure who they are by, I love the stairwell image as filling that space has always appealed to me.  But I am now aspiring to the fence and the tree. I'm currently ignoring the fact that I don't know how to crochet! 

If anyone else fancies joining me, just give me a shout!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Big Lunch Extras at The Eden Project

I've had a whole week to reflect on my experience at the Eden Project's community building programme, The Big Lunch Extra.  I struggled to get an objective point of view at the time, mainly due to a lack of sleep (hot hotel room = 3 nights of insomnia) and a full on day of talks, activities and workshops.  I found spending so much time with other people quite exhausting.  I don't even spend that much time with my own kids and I've grown quite fond of them!

However, one week later and my energy is fully restored, the facebook group has been set up and further plans to meet up have been arranged and I find myself chatting online to other camp attendees, growing some friendships from just a few short conversations and really seeing the benefit of going down to the beautiful environment that is the Eden Project.  I am actually feeling optimistic and confident that my ideas could work and even if they don't, at least I tried.

I've got a couple of ideas I want to develop, and yes, one involves fire after hearing Sue Hill talk, possibly one of the most inspiring talks I've ever been too.  What struck a chord was her saying it's ok to do things small & delicate, that it doesn't need to have fireworks and speeches, you can just do something sensitive too.

I much prefer to work this way and give people the space to take their own interpretation away.  A much more gentle approach.

I took lots of photos over the weekend, spent a time in the toilet photographing the mosaic artwork and the gorgeous plants, but here's one of the banners that's up in the Core.

I intend to keep playing, stay grounded and stay young.  (but I'm still going to use my lovely new old lady shopping trolley)

Friday, 6 June 2014

Community Art

I've had a busy couple of weeks, we started building the mosaic at Belper Goes Green last weekend, I estimated about 200 people have taken part in putting it together and I'm really happy with how it's looking. 

I also had two helpers, Eleanor and Heidi, both from the university of Derby, who volunteered their time to help make the mosaic and chat to participants. There's still a bit more work to do before it can be installed, but its looking great. 

On Friday I ran a drop in workshop for Somercotes library, it was their 25th anniversary and this little treasure trove of tomes held a well being event with hand massages, refreshments and me, making silver anniversary decorations with memories from the past 25 years written on them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, art, books and people chatting about their lives. I spoke to some fascinating people including a lady with a wealth of qualifications including a degree in glass making and a lovely chap who made a fish, simply saying that he used to fish a lot. We also had some emotional moments as another lady remembered her father in law, he had died 25 years ago and she obviously thought a lot of him. 

This is the part of community art I love, it becomes a real privilege to listen to people's life stories and its always fascinates me to hear all their stories. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Forest School Trainee!

I'm really inspired at the moment, I get to be creative and play in the woods. 

My not for profit organisation, Corridor Arts, that I run with artist Andrew Martyn Sugars, successfully applied for funding so I could train as a forest school leader, we want to explore creativity outdoors and the impact it can have on children's development. 

I recently spent a week in a wood just outside Mansfield, where, if I'm honest, I experienced a life changing event. 

It was a gradual process, starting with me feeling nervous about meeting a new group of people and barking on a new path. As the week went on, we made friends, became supportive of each other, chatted, shared stories and even though I hate to use such a cliche, bonded as a group. 

By the end of the week, I was happily closing my eyes and being led around the wood and singing loudly at the trees. 

I did things I never thought I would dare, as I am basically a bit of a wimp... 

But back in my day job on Monday and a trip to Whitepost Farm, I heard myself agreeing to hold a python and a bearded dragon (ok, I was excited about holding a real dragon but rather terrified of the python!). I'm in my 40's (gulp) but if such an experience can have an impact on my slightly cynical grey matter, can you imagine the impression it would have on the developing, fresh and excited brain of a 10 year old?

I felt braver, I felt I could do anything and face any fears. After all, just two days earlier I had sung and danced in a wood with my new forest family. I have a deep sense of contentment. 

Now then, where's my knife, I have a spoon finish carving! 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Creativity & Transition Belper

I was sat on my sofa, reading the transition network website guidelines for the stages of transition and involving families, when I realised the most obvious thing I hadn't done... Tell people about my growing involvement with the transition network. (Duh!)

For the last few months I've been working on a project for Transition Belper and what started out as a fun project that I could use my artistic skills with local children is turning out to be a bit of a life changer. I've always tried (and regularly failed) to live ethically and environmentally friendly so joining in with the transition network is an obvious step. 

Transition movements look at ways to address the two subjects of climate change and peak oil and how we can continue to live with a dwindling resource and how we contribute to climate change. 

The project is to create artwork for the railings at the Belper Train Station and to create a mosaic that will be built at Belper Goes Green Festival. I'm still hoping we have the funds for the mosaic and we are winging it a bit, but I still have a belief that it will happen. 

This has had an effect on my lifestyle recently as I've given up my car (my biggest oil user as I rarely do things like fly) and an awakening to using local and alternative sources. I'm currently enjoying the bus ride to my part time job which means I get to walk through my local park most days, whether I'll still like it in winter remains to be seen! 

I also recently agreed/volunteered to be the Creativity & Wellbing coordinator and our first meeting is on the 3rd May. My aspirations for this group are that we ultimately make artwork that reflect the issues around transition, have some skill sharing sessions and hopefully some up skilling. I know that I would love to learn how to crochet, something very simple but is a total mystery to me! 

As well as this I also start training as a forest school leader in May which I'm really excited about. Outdoors, kids, playing & learning, creating, mud. What's not to love! 

One of the drawings from Herbert Strutt Primary School for Transition Belper. 

Outdoor Easter Crafts hanging in the living willow dome. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Mango Cards, Trees and Wild Garlic.

I've recently embraced a new experience that was forced on me. 

I'm from a background belief that a sign of success is having a decent car. It indicates to the rest of society that you have achieved enough earnings in life that you can afford to run a highly expensive object. 

A recent mot failure and consequential visit to the car dustbin left me with two options, rush out and buy another rusty money pit or embrace the challenge of no car. 

Needless to say, my kids are horrified by this prospect. 

I'm a few weeks into this experiment and I'm currently enjoying it. I get to walk across my look nature reserve most days, taking photos of interesting shadows, shapes and sights.  Some days I listen to my headphones, other days I listen to the birds. Last week, I picked wild garlic that we ate for tea. 

I've had no shortage of lifts from friends and colleagues, either because they have spotted me walking to the bus station or because I've asked for a lift to a specific event. I've been awed by people's kindness at times. 

It feels a more sociable experience than getting in my car, locking the doors and driving myself alone to my destination. 

It's made me think about my own carbon footprint and what I am doing that impacts on the earth. 

It's given me the space to consider where I fit in society and how I often feel isolated and remote because my viewpoint is different from those around me. 

I have discovered I want to live a lifestyle that is alternative, where I don't feel obliged to buy into the capitalist system which makes me unhappy. 

I want to stay awake and smell the wild garlic. 

Sod it, I want to smell it, eat it whole and let it grow another million years so my descendants can do the same!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

You Know You Are a Real Artist...

When you start getting con men emailing you and as I've received mine today, I am officially a real artist. 

It's like getting that telegram from the queen on your 100th birthday, or your driving license at 17, giving you the freedom you spent the last few years angsting over.  An iconic landmark! 

Here's my lovely email from Mike Conley with his impeccable English. 

Hello and good day
       please i saved the details of the link to where i saw your woks online but i have lost it,so please i would so much appreciate it if you could assist me and also please i would like to know if i could make a direct purchase of your works from you,if so thanks so much for taking time to read my email and i patiently await your response.

It's a proud moment and I'd like to thank my family and friends for their support over the years leading to my success. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Years Revolution

Like most people, I've set some New Years resolutions, goals, intentions, aims... Call them what you like but they are there to help us improve out life. 

I've tried to make mine specific and achievable. No 'get fit and loose weight', but getting fit includes running a half marathon, loosing weight includes going to slimming world and I have an aim in mind. These are my more boring ones, but they're mine so I will do my best to stick with them. 

The ones that I'm more likely to let slide are the creative challenges because these are the ones that really ask me to push myself. To do one collage a week so that I have 52 pieces for an exhibition, these will reflect my year and what is happening for me emotionally and physically. I also need to find an exhibition space. 

I think I may need support with these, so here's my idea. To meet up with friends and take the baby steps needed to fulfil all my life goals and dreams for the coming year. I don't want to be sitting here next year with a feeling of regret because I let the dreams go. 

I've also picked a word for 2014 to stick by and that is to be Authentic. 

I'll be putting the idea of a meet up to talk about reaching for our aspirations out on social media, if you fancy joining me, let me know.