The studios windows bringing some Peace, Love and Joy over the Christmas period!
The studios windows bringing some Peace, Love and Joy over the Christmas period!
Exciting times! The Women’s Art Group has started! It was so lovely to welcome local women into the studio for the afternoon to learn some basic printing techniques. Some popped in before the school run, some on their way home from early shifts at work, others after a trip to the Forge. I love that art can bring together women at different stages of life to chat and learn from each other. I can’t wait to see this group grow over the next few weeks!
We continued with our printmaking this week- building on the basics we learnt in week one. I introduced the idea of layering different images and textures and it was inspiring to see what was achievable in such a short time. Joanne used a photocopy of Parkhead Library as her starting point and made a series of vibrant layered monoprints. Margaret started on an ambitious scene of the Barrowlands so it will be exciting to see how that evolves next week!
Michelle made a really impressive collage- an angel- from monoprinted papers layered together with a photocopied image she brought from home. It’s been great to see the women really embrace the class- bringing their own interests and life stories to the table and turning them into something creative.
This week we began to think about moving onto printing on fabric. While some finished their prints from last week others began planning their design for their handmade tote bags. As we don’t have access to screen printing in the studio we had to think of other ways to print. Painting onto a printing plate with fabric ink to monoprint the bags worked well as long as we worked quickly and kept the image simple. We also experimented with cutting stamps and stamping directly onto the bags.
An international vibe at Parkhead Women’s Art Group this week! It was nice to see these designs coming together- many of the bags were designed especially as gifts to send to friend’s abroad or for Mother’s Day.
The group has really caught the printmaking bug so I spoke about ways they could try to carry on printing at home (as today was our last class!) This class has been a great group to work with- Wednesday’s at the studio have felt so full of energy- a true snapshot of Parkhead life. It has been lovely being able to stop to chat to these women when we see each other on the street now. I think these little interactions which go beyond the studio are a simple way to form a sense of community. I know these women will keep on looking out for each other once these classes have ended and some have already made plans to meet up!
“I enjoyed learning new things and hopefully it will inspire me to be more creative at home.”
“I enjoyed sharing the class with other people. I had a nice time. It was relaxing”
Mama Makes are specially designed art workshops for mums and babies hosted by Cafe Stork. The group is made from a combination of pregnant and postnatal mums who meet every Monday afternoon for lunch, informal activities and support. It is a great initiative run by the local NHS team with the hope that mums can begin to build their ‘mum support network’ before their babies are born. We know that making fresh connections and friendships can feel nerve-wracking at the best of times (let alone in those blurry, self conscious days after birth!) so Cafe Stork aims to make it less intimidating by doing the hard bit before newborns arrives.
As the group is made of bumps as well as babies I was careful to think of activities that all the mums could participate in- baby footprints etc- although very cute- need a baby! So I decided to plan a 3 week course of crafts for the ‘nursery’. Starting with book themed bunting, personalised decoupaged letters and ‘Bump/Baby’s First Christmas’ baubles. I also hoped to provide mums on a small budget with some really special things to decorate their home for the new baby. It was so lovely to hear the mums-to-be comment on how nice it was to have some ‘me time’ where they could focus and plan for their new baby (many of them busy working and looking after older siblings). It was also fascinating to watch the amazing multitasking capabilities of mums! Balancing babies on knees, shaking rattles, all the while producing some really lovely crafts that no doubt will be proudly displayed in their homes!
Alongside The Reading Room the everyday goings-ons at the Residency took on a rather literary vibe in celebration of Book Week Scotland. Here is a quick summary of what went on…
Monday 21st November, Mama Makes @ Cafe Stork
My first ever Mama Makes session was at the start of Book Week and in the spirit of everything bookish we made beautiful nursery bunting from old books. Now for all the bibliophiles reading I must reassure you that no books were harmed in the making of this workshop! We had a huge amount of old books donated to the studio for Book Week and you know what kids picture books are like- a lot had pages missing or had seen better days- so this was the perfect way of giving them a new lease of life!
Mums chose a book and then a bunting template that fitted well. Picked their favourite pictures, drew around them with the template, cut out the pieces, used a hole punch and ribbon to string them together! Ta-dah! Easy peasy but beautifully effective! Cafe Stork is open to pregnant mums as well as postnatal mums so it was a lovely activity for them to kick-start their nesting!
Wednesday 23rd November, Women’s Art Group
The Women’s Art Group also started this week and alongside the art activity being taught there was also an ‘Parkhead-colouring’ sheet (as requested by the the community at the Studio Open Day.) Of course, there was only one option for the sheet this week- Parkhead Library!
Thursday 24th November, ROC Cafe
The night of 24th was probably the first really freezing nights of the winter but it didn’t put off a group of hardy Parkhead girls from creating some really fun (slightly anarchic) street-art. All guerrilla warfare depends on a strategy and our guerrilla art night was much the same. We chose 5 sites and 5 reading/book related quotes, paired up the most fitting texts to places and then headed out. In the end we only managed 4 of the quotes as our 5th planned location didn’t have any street-lighting so would have been impossible/eligible (and slightly creepy).
Going to bed that night it was exciting to think of all the people waking up to our artwork- brightening up the morning commute and school run! The quote below was only visible in the daylight- it was such a beautiful morning!- couldn’t resist stopping to watch the reactions of passersby!
Friday 25th November, Messy Art @ Toddlers
I ended the week with a session called ‘Nae words, Nae bother’ at Parkhead Toddlers. Based on the wonderful book Bee and Bird by Craig Frazer- this workshop helps illustrate that literacy should not be a barrier to sharing stories with our children. It takes a lot of confidence to read aloud, and for many parents and grandparents poor literacy can make what should be a relaxing, bonding experience fraught with tension or at worse avoided completely. It’s also an issue for bi-lingual families where local library books are in English but at home there is no one to read them. It can also be frustrating with younger toddlers who want to skip over pages and/or become fixated on one page for a long time- how do we keep the story going when we’ve ran out of words?! The beauty of Frazer’s book is that there are NO WORDS. Just a great series of illustrations depicting the story of Bee and Bird. Are they friends on an adventure? Are they travelers thrown together? Why are they on such an epic journey? NO BOTHER! It’s up to the reader! My son and I came up with out own ideas but in the hands of another family the story changes. It frees up the adult and child to take their own time, not feel they have to keep up with the authors pace or level of language.
To empower the families to use images as the starting ground for storytelling I helped them create their own ‘books’ of images. Everyone got a pack of A4 images to colour, once coloured they were encouraged to lay them out like a storyboard or comic strip. By simply shuffling the images they could twist and transform their story- an activity that keeps on giving.
The Reading Room in celebration of Book Week Scotland was a pop-up library and performance at Parkhead Cross. Open from 3-5pm, members of the public could browse the shelves, chose a book, and be read a story by the visiting actors. Over the course of the week we welcomed 5 actors and over 30 participants from the community.
It was wonderful to see families excited about reading and bundles of books going to new homes.
Here are some photos from the Thursday session with the wonderful Naomi Stirrat reading to some engrossed little (and not so little) listeners!
A special thanks to Fiona Stewart, Joanne Macdonald, Naomi Stirrat, Luke Wilson and Ashleigh Smith.
Also thank you to McVities for providing wonderful book donations and boxes of ’emergency biscuits’- which were devoured by happy listeners.
And to everyone else who donated books to the project- thank you from Parkhead!
29th of October was the official Open Day of the Parkhead Artist-in-Residence project! It was a great day with lots of friends, family and supporters all visiting, eating, drinking and taking part in activities and competitions! We were also privileged to have artist Adrian Wiszniewski officially open the Parkhead Residency- speaking so encouragingly of art in the community and the need to ensure access to the arts is available to all. The day was documented by photographer Ashleigh Smith and I’m so excited to share her photos with you!
The first event at the new Parkhead Art Studio was on the 15th of October on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It is a campaign close to my heart so even though I had just got the keys days before I was determined that this event would christen the Artist-in-Residence programme. It seemed perfect timing that a project (and space) which from its outset aimed to be community focused, culturally aware and inclusive would firstly dedicate time and resources to a section of the community often forgotten- the 1 in 4 pregnancies lost and parents left behind.
As the date drew closer I thought of all the women effected in Parkhead and what opportunities they had available to them to explore this difficult type of loss. The confusion, the disappointment, the anger, the heartbreak, the hopelessness, the failure, the judgement, the loneliness. I wanted to provide a time and space where they could turn to for support, contemplation- where they could let themselves just be- in their identity post-loss. Wave of Light was a place for quiet reflection, the lighting of candles to acknowledge life and loss, sharing experiences in conversation, and providing creative activities to explore the subject of pregnancy loss. Our Parkhead ‘Wave of Light’ joining with others across the globe as candles were lit at 7pm as part of remembrance day.
Wave of Light
As part-remembrance, part-creative collaboration I encouraged women to light a group of candles- one for each of their pregnancies. At the end of the night I asked the women to bring the candles representing their lost pregnancies together to the centre of the room. Illustrating as we gathered in this activity that not only us, but also our babies, were part of a community.
Light in the darkness
Women were encouraged to share a piece of ‘light’ for those struggling in the darkness of grief. A message of support, a piece of advice or an encouragement for the days ahead.
Darkness vs Light
Darkness vs Light could also be called Lies vs Truth, or Curses vs Blessings. Women were asked to write a lie they had believed about themselves or their loss in dark crayon, they were then asked to write a truth they clung to to counteract this lie in white crayon. It was heartbreaking to read the lies the women believed in their darkest hours. However, we next took black ink and blocked out the text. As the ink dried our lies faded away and our truths were revealed, shining out to the room as we pinned them up.
As a small gift to take home from the evening the women were invited to make a tealight holder so they had the opportunity to light another candle once they got home. They were each given a class tealight holder, glass paints and pens, and stickers and encouraged to reflect on the identity of the pregnancy they lost. Many pregnancies end before the baby has a name so a word which described their short life or the effect it had on the mother was often chosen instead of a name.
Colouring and Chat
I would like to thank Ashleigh Smith for her wonderful and sensitive photography on the night and for all the support behind the scenes especially Debs Craig and Shelley Kenny.
Before and after!
First workshop in the new studio and I was so happy it was Parkhead Toddlers as I’ve been running Messy Art sessions for them for about two years so they’re my oldest running group! It was such a pleasure to welcome the families into the studio and see them having so much fun in the studio.
Little hands painting ‘leaves’ on my logo
For my October ROC Cafe sessions- keeping with the aim of it being about fun, mess, and harking back to the early school days of making stuff- I decided papier mache would fit the bill perfectly! There was also had the added attraction that the papier mache, floating, pinata heads would double as party decorations for the studio Open Day later in the month!
Week 1: Papier Mache
Papier mache fun (using son’s leftover first birthday balloons!) with obligatory peeling PVA off our hands like zombies (was nearly Halloween after all!)
Week 2: Painting
The young people created a great variety of ‘portrait pinatas’ from lifelike humans, scary halloween ghouls, cartoon characters and, of course, the cast of the Pixar movie Inside Out. This activity was purely for fun but in hindsight the natural way the kids linked the activity to Inside Out could be the inspiration behind a more focused workshop on emotions- something to keep up my sleeve for next time I’m asked to do a schools workshop.
The first weekend of October saw Starcatchers reaching its 10th Birthday in perfect Starcatchers style in Platform Easterhouse. Starcatchers is a fabulous arts company which merges performance art, live music with the visual arts and early years education into truly magical experiences for pre-school children. Travelling around Scotland (and further afield- they tour globally) they bring truly accessible arts experiences to communities and families which are always worth a visit. As a mum of a music mad toddler who is also a busy bee their projects are perfect often combining music, dance and visuals with plenty for little ones to do. Their ‘Family Day’ at Platform delivered just that. Between perfomances of Starcatchers ‘The Shape of Things’ and Platform’s resident artist Holly Willoughby’s ‘Sink or Swim’ there was live music, art workshops, the Bookbug bus and of course cake. We weren’t able to stay for cake as naptime was calling but we did have a great morning and of course wherever there’s a band, there’s a Davie drummer!
Sitting drumsticks in hand edging as close to the band as possible!
Having a car it was great to just nip home in 10 minutes after a fun creative morning out- it is so vital to have events like this locally in the Eastend of Glasgow. Easterhouse is a bit of a trek to get to on public transport (even if you live relatively locally in places like Tollcross or Baillieston) which is the one downside so a lot of Parkhead families I encouraged to go felt they couldn’t make it. But this just creates a bigger incentive to make the Parkhead Residency as varied and accessible as possible- giving the wider Eastend community the opportunity to see great creative projects like Starcatchers.