in the community
I love creating work for community spaces. Accessible art is so important. Whether it be challenging, celebratory or decorative it can add a new dimension and focus where it is situated.
The Friends of Telford Town Park wanted the old fish shaped planter in the Maxell gardens to be revamped and made into a permanent sculpture. The previous year I had covered it in fabric scales for the Japanese Sakura festival.
We decided to make it a recycling and health project for adults in the community. In the autumn of 2019 I worked with various groups in the community to create thousands of scales. We collected used drinks cans, washed them out and cut the tops and bottoms off. The piece of tin that remained was trimmed to remove sharp edges and cut into scale shapes. People worked on the pieces of tin with embossing tools to create lovely patterns, some added colour using permanent ink pens. Once we had enough scales I created an aluminium frame over the wire basket fish with the help of my dad. This created a skeleton on which to rivet the scales. The scales on the face show the drinks cans labels whilst the rest are the embossed ones.
As we approached winter the fish was covered up until spring 2020 where it was due to be unveiled as part of a spring into the park event. Of course all events were cancelled, although the parks team did uncover him to get some beautiful springtime photographs surrounded by cherry blossom.
Covered again over the summer, finally an opportunity to unveil him was found as part of Telford and Wrekin VJ Remembrance Day. The gardens where beautifully decorated and full of fabulous Japanese performers.
Maxell Gardens Fish
Sutton Hill Community Centre
As part of the Telford at 50 celebrations the guys at Sutton Hill Hub on the Hill community centre obtained a grant to create
a piece of art work for the wall in their main hall. As the first residential development of the new Telford Town it is an important piece of local history. Sutton Hill has a long history of community arts as can be seen on a walk around the centre of the town. Jean Mills and I wanted to help celebrate this history and we worked with members of the community to create the Sutton Hill Oak tree. We wanted to engage as many residents as possible and provide opportunities in a variety of medium. We gathered dozens of old photographs and memories from residents, many who had lived there since Sutton Hill was first developed. We created themes - Sutton Hill pre development, the design of the estate and houses, the first residents and their experiences, community life, community buildings, lost buildings, the church, outdoor spaces and children's services. We created work based on each theme in different mediums including paint, prinmaking, emulsion transfer, recycled plastic, mosaic, clay, collage, comic book art and textiles. People from 3 to 83 got involved and the result is a busy, exciting image that reflects the busy nature of the Hub.
Japanese Carp in Telford Town Park
The Friends of Telford Park held their first Sakura (cherry blossom) festival in April 2018 in the Maxell Cherry Garden. Japan is known around the world for its cherry blossom festivals, they are an important custom and are held all over Japan during the spring. The day included Japanese street food, traditional Japanese music, and drums from the Taiko West Drummers along with Origami demonstrations and silhouette cutting. For the festival the park managers asked if the large metal fish planter in the garden could be given a makeover into a Koinobori - a Japanese carp shaped kite. Traditionally, carp kites are flown from April through early May in honor of a major holiday called Kodomo no Hi or Children's Day, which takes place on May 5. Families fly the kites to symbolize the wish that their children grow into healthy, spirited adults.
The size of the fish is about 2 metres in length and has fins so I decided I could not dress it successfully with one large piece of fabric . Using kite material I decided to create long strings of scales which could be individually tied to the frame of the fish. The head was made with one large piece. The scales were hand painted using waterproof fabric dyes, many were made by the lovely folk who attend the Skills and Enterprise Hub in Horsehay. I stitched all the pieces together and created rivets so that the whole thing could be tied to the metal frame of the fish ( very handy that the fish planter is basically a metal cage)
After the festival the park team decided to keep the decorated fish and liked the idea so much that they are looking into giving the fish a permanent makeover!
let's go quackers
I was delighted to take part in the Let's Go Quackers community arts project in Telford. It was organised as part of the Telford at 50 celebrations and was the brainchild of Julie Ward. It had been her dream for many years to put on an Arts Trail in Telford using giant fibre glass animals - as she had seen in other towns around the country. She acquired 10 giant size ducks,10 designs were chosen from hundreds of entries and then these designs were brought to life by 10 different artists. The giant ducks created an arts trail through Ironbridge Gorge and then in Southwater, Telford. They were then auctioned off for charity (along with baby versions) - altogether they raised a whopping £36,167!
I was chosen to paint one of the ducks. My duck's design was created by Heather McNab and is based on a peacock design created by Maw & Co, Jackfield for the Marriage Pavilion at Mysore Palace in Southern India. He took many weeks to paint and is now residing in somebody's garden by the river in Shrewsbury.
Class 3 Wilfred Owen School Roman Mosaic
I spent 3 days working with the children of Long Mynd Class at Wilfred Owen School in Shrewsbury. They wanted to produce a Roman style mosaic as part of their studies into the Ancient Romans. They had visited Shrewsbury Mosaic and Art Gallery, taken part in workshops and learnt about working as museum curators. They decided that they would like to create a mosaic based on a fragment of mosaic floor that they have at the museum. I produced the design and went into school with the design ready on the board. They worked in a very focused way over the 3 days and created this beautiful 1m square mosaic using unglazed ceramic tiles. I took it back to the studio to grout. The mosaic is on display in the Roman Gallery in the museum.
Whole School Mosaic Project
Clive CofE Primary School
The school decided what they wanted in the mosaic, to reflect their ethos and values. I produced a scale design for the school based on their requirements and ideas. This was then copied on to a full size MDF panel and together with Jean Mills we worked with the children to complete the mosaic. The whole school took part. This was a very small school so everyone from Nursery through to Year 6 had a chance to lay some of the mosaic. I provided the school with extension ideas for the teachers to work on in the classroom. This was part of the school's art week which involved them looking at Spain and the work of Gaudi. I took the mosaic panel back to the studio to finish off and grout, returning to the school to install in their foyer.
Original Design incorporating Clive Church, the school tree, a cross, a dove, the schoo moto and wording
Same design with some alterations requested by the school.
Close up showing mosaic in progress.
The mosaic is half complete.
The mosaic is complete - before grouting.
The mosaic is installed on the wall in the school foyer.
Whole School Mosaic Project
Oxon CofE Primary School
As part of their Arts Week Oxon CE Primary School wanted the children to create a mosaic to stand in the reflective area of the playground. The school came up with the ideas for the design which I transferred to a scaled drawing to lay under the mesh for the mosaic to be stuck on to. 6 children from each class worked on the mosaic over 2 days.
Telford Town Park Community Mosaic
Telford & Wrekin Council commissioned a 22 metre mosaic for a wall in the Town Park. Jean and I worked with various community and school groups on the individual leaves and flowers which groups then assebled onto 1 metre panels. I created the design of leaves being blown around on a breeze to compliment the line of trees that can be seen when facing the wall. The panels had to be designed so that each one flowed into the next. People were encouraged to be as creative and colourful as they wished with their leaf designs, these are held together by the blues of the background.
With help from the team at Telford & Wrekin it was finally installed and unveiled in November 2017.