Friday, 30 January 2015

Cross Corners Secret Garden

Not only do we have a beautiful place to inspire people to be creative, we also have access to a magical secret garden through the back door of Cross Corners.  Today it was exceptionally magical.  I have been in these gardens many times over the past few years but have never seen it in a blanket of snow.  Believe it or not, all of the following pictures are colour but, somehow, they look black and white, infact, it seemed like a mystical black and white world out there for a while today...
 This is a mulberry tree but not a single fruit in sight today...
 The Cross Corners garden pond was iced over, for a while, today...
 Bridge over the pond...
 Camellias?
 Cross Corners peeking out from amongst the snowy foliage...
This view, just outside the back door of Cross Corners, reminds me of the book 'Tom's Midnight Garden' by Philippa Pearce.  I image that this view is similar to what Tom would have seen when he opened the back door...
If you wander further around these gardens, you will eventually find Belgrave Hall...
It looks good in black and white too...
Lovely isn't it?
Lisa

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last Term in the Studio

Last term seemed to go by in a blink.  There was lots's of wonderful creativity, some with a festive theme.
One of our participants became facilitator and showed us how to fold old, destined for landfill, books into hedgehogs, perfect for holding your letters and cards...
And this led on to book folded christmas trees finished off with tiny pompoms made with forks...
In December we had a visiting artist, Bridget McVey, a talented ceramicist and teacher.  Bridget guided us through the process of working with clay.
Choosing shapes and cutting clay from the block with a cheese wire...

Ornaments and gifts for christmas in the making...
This is bigger than it looks...
Snowflake coasters and ceramic bunting pennants...
Making giant buttons...
We also took part in the Craftist Wellmaking Garden project...
Made christmas tree hangings from recycled textiles...
And crochet bowls from t-shirt fabric that had been chucked out by a local factory...
We like to put cotton into ours...
We made these wreaths from ivy foraged from the beautiful Belgrave Hall gardens.  The head gardener was rather pleased we were helping him to keep the ivy in check...

On the last session of the year, we got on with unfinished projects whilst munching on lovely food we all bought in to share.  We were bathed in beautiful sunrays...

We made lots of beautiful things and, at our Open Studio event, sold some of the items we had made.  It was really great to have the support of our 'Crafting for Health and Wellbeing' participants at the Open Studio who were involved in helping out with setting up, helping with a drop-in workshop and helping out in the gallery space.  Hopefully there will be lots more opportunities for volunteers in 2015. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Preparations for a Celebratory Event

After a busy and sucessful open studio, we are now busily preparing for the celebratory event for the end of our 'Knitting Communities Together' project. This project involved us teaching staff, who support adults with learning disabilities, how to knit, crochet and weave.


These new skills were then used to enhance the workplace environment and to create sensory experiences, including a 10 foot long sensory wall/blanket.


Another part of this project looked at the benefits of interacting with the local community. A number of items such as a bunting and blankets have been made and will be distributed to local community groups.

Our thanks go out to our Knit2gether Birstall/Belgrave group and the Knitting Guerillas of Blighty who helped us make the sensory wall/blanket, Leanne Robinson, Service Development Coordinator, staff and service users who benefited from participation and the Leicester City Council Charnwood Community ward who funded this project.

Photography (c) Jacqui Booth

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Wellmaking Craftivist Garden

We have just taken part in this collaborative project with Community Arts Officer, Jemma Bagley, and Sarah Green aka Super Crochet Girl from Charnwood Arts.  The project has been created by  Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist CollectiveThe #wellMAKING Craftivist Garden project is being run in partnership with Falmouth University, Voluntary Arts and Arts for Health Cornwall & Isles of Scilly supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


The project aims to go beyond seeing craft as a relaxing tool but seeing as a way to also help us connect and challenge and help us grow and flourish in our lives in different ways.  Groups and organisations across the UK have been invited to knit, crochet or hand embroider a flower for the Wellmaking Craftivist Garden whilst, at the same time, reflecting on the importance of wellbeing.



Reflections of the importance of wellbeing are captured in a questionnaire or via the #craftivist app and the results will be presented to the All Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health in January 2015 which will provide evidence of the power that craft has to improve our wellbeing and society as a whole.


Our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing Group participated in this project, last week, creating some really cute flowers for the craftivist garden.  The patterns, provided, were very easy to follow and we had a few people new to crochet, create a flower in no time at all...




Flowers made for this project will go into to display in London and participants will have the opportunity to join in the Garden  Party in January when it is confirmed.

Contributions from our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing Groups
There is more information on the Craftivist Collective website. If you would like to have a go at making your own flower for the Craftivist Garden, including information on how you can facilitate your own group session go to the Craftitivist Collective website.  All flowers need to be submitted to the collective by mid Dec 2014.

Lisa 



Sunday, 9 November 2014

Poppies for Remembrance

Since the beginning of September, the Crafting for Health and Wellbeing group have been making poppies to raise funds for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.  A fundraising manager, from the Royal British Legion, came to visit us and told us all about how the funds raised would be spent and left us a collection tin.
We made our poppies in three different ways - from newspaper...


 From fabric...


 And a few were knitted and crocheted...


We left our poppies with the staff, who kindly offered to help with our fundraising, at Belgrave Hall, around the corner from our studio, when they were open for the 'Heritage Open weekend'.  We invited visitors to take a poppy in return for a donation to the appeal.  We also left them out in reception at Cross Corners Community Arts Centre where our group is based.  

The poppy making effect rippled out beyond our group with participants and volunteers taking our templates to other groups they support, inspiring more poppy making and fundraising.  The donation tin feels rather heavy.  I estimate that we have, at least, £50, if not more, towards the Poppy Appeal. 

It's really good for the wellbeing of all of us to be creative, connect with others, and give to others, which all contributes to the 'Five Ways to Wellbeing'.  


TO THE MEMORY OF THE FALLEN AND THE FUTURE OF THE LIVING


UPDATE: We raised £81.87 from donations for the poppies we made!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Last term in the studio

The past term has whizzed by and lots of things have been happening in the studio.
We started our new project Knitting Communities Together and it is going really well and reaching our expectations and more.  Also, our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing project has welcomed two visiting artists which have given participants new ideas resulting in some fantastically creative work.

Lindsey Warnes Carroll and myself repeated a session we delivered for Wellbeing Hi-5 exploring poetry and using this as a spark to create wallhangings.  We talked about our memories of holidays and each of us were encouraged to create our own poems based on our holiday memories.  The session was very thought provoking.


Following this session we had a go at some monoprinting in preparation for a visit from artist Jemma Rix.  Monoprinting can be a bit unnerving for some as you have little control over what the end result will look like.  Additionally, being faced with a blank sheet of paper can be daunting at times.  Luckily we have lots of inspiration around us at Cross Corners, a beautiful garden and a book shelf with lots of lovely images to choose from as well as a wealth of textiles, and other bits of treasure, to work with.  The group soon warmed up and lots of great prints were produced.


For the session with Jemma, we had a go at making cyanotypes.  This involves transfering a relief image to a surface prepared with a photo sensitive solution.  We mainly used paper and fabric.
Here you see a fabric piece with an arrangement of acetates with printed images and lace ready for transfer to the UV lamp for developing...


A cyanotype being developed under the lamp.


A cyanotype being fixed in water.


More examples of cyanotypes developed onto paper and other pieces for collage making.


Jemma also demonstrated a form of monoprinting using tissue paper which can be glued and layered over collaged work.  This results in the image becoming transparent...


Here you can see a mixture of painting, monoprints and cyanotypes with a final layer of monoprinted tissue paper which has been glued over the entire collage.  The glue makes it transparent so all the layers can be seen.  The lady who made this piece of work described the process as 'liberating'...


Work in progress.  The studio has been a beautiful creative mess with lots of material gathered from a variety of sources such as tissue paper from shoe boxes and salvaged sweet paper and discarded clippings from the garden.


This lady was only able to use one hand at this session but was still able to make her mark.


Finished collage pieces.


The piece of work, below, was inspired by the poetry session.  The lady who made this told us about her mum who used to tell her that 'if there is and obstacle in your path, there's always a way around'.  She wanted to create something from these words and, over a period of about 3-4 weeks, made this wall hanging from a mixture of textiles and leaves and twigs.  The twigs, towards the bottom of the picture, under the words, are from an oak tree planted by her mum...


I love running these sessions hearing the wonderful remarks that people make about their time in sessions.  I encourage them to write down what they have achieved and how it made them feel and hang them on our 'feedback tree' (see centre of picture below).


Here are some of the comments made last term.


This one is so lovely.  And this is why we do what we do.



This term, in the run up to christmas, we shall be sharing some of our own craft and participating in a project by Falmouth University called The Wellmaking Craftivist Garden.  We'll also be indulging in a spot of pottery with Bridget McVey who will show us how to make christmas tree ornaments.

Lisa