Monday, 26 September 2011

Combating older people’s loneliness and social isolation

In November Owen Hutchings from St Helens Arts Service, Phil and I will be of to London to talk at the Bloom conference: Combating older people’s loneliness and social isolation. November 8, 2011

Loneliness and social isolation are among the greatest sources of misery for older people living in the UK today – one in 10 older people say they suffer from "intense" loneliness and more than half of people over the age of 75 live alone, according to research by Age UK.

This Bloom conference sets out fresh objectives and provides practical guidance and inspiring examples from a range of settings for providers and commissioners of care and support services for older people – to enhance family relationships, encourage love and friendship, and promote community involvement and engagement.
You can find out more and book at place by following

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Yarn bombing

Yarn bombing otherwise called guerrilla knitting or graffiti knitting has hit my local town of New Mills, Derbyshire with a splash of colour and laughter. The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S with Texas knitters trying to find creative ways to use leftover and unfinished knitting projects... 

Many shop windows have been adorned with knitting, with displays of knitted fruit, cakes, bikes and sausages in associated shops.

This wonderful knitted graffiti has been made by the Woolly Wanderers, and is showing between the 10th and the 25th September. You can find out more about them at

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Little Sentence: Platform Gallery, Leicester

The exhibition at the wonderful Platform Gallery, Leicester is up and running and gaining some really positive attention. The exhibition of tattoos on paper: words & art from young offenders, seems to be doing everything we hoped it would- giving a voice to people, challenging pre-conceptions and stimulating conversation.

Really great exhibition - the subject matter of the different artists was thought provoking, sad at times as well as humorous, all looked really stunning in black ink lines. Would really recommend a visit   William Caxton

...I think the pieces will have a positive effect on a wider audience understanding some of the thoughts of the young offenders who created them. Carolyn White looks really professional and the setting is a superb space to show the work. Each piece drew me in and made me think of the 'untold' background story to the words and images created here. Matilda Arnold

To read more comments, and to make some of your own, please visit: To view more photos please visit

The exhibition will run till the 2nd October.

"GROW ROSES or you are wasting time & time is the one thing you never get back." (Participant, HMYOI Glen Parva 2011)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Enabling: Inclusive Arts Practice for Public Health and Well Being

In October I will be running a workshop event at the Conference, Enabling: Inclusive Arts Practice for Public Health and Well Being. 

Enabling: Inclusive Arts Practice for Public Health and Well Being
11th October 2011
Bolton Central Museum

Bolton Council Arts Development Service invite you to an event to promote inclusive arts practice for public health and wellbeing and to inform your future decision-making and development  in this growing area of work.
In the current changing economic climate, with a move to the big society, localism bill, shared services, personalisation and opening up of services for commissioning opportunities, there is a need to equip organisations in the third sector, arts and creative industries with the knowledge needed to ensure they are able to keep up and exploit new opportunities to their fullest.   The day will cover inclusive arts practice, how to be tender ready and win contracts in health and social care and how to navigate the emerging health commissioning process.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

A LITTLE SENTENCE = Tattoos on paper: words & art from young offenders.

On Tuesday, Phil and I went down to Leicester to set up a new exhibition showcasing our recent project with Young Offenders...

An exhibition of tattoos designed by young offenders to explore and explain their lives opens at Pedestrian Gallery in Leicester, UK on 14th September to the 2nd October 2011. Private view Thursday 22nd September 5.30 to 7.30.

In summer 2011, young offenders in HMYOI Glen Parva used the stylings of tattoos to design images and poetic statements. Tattoos contain some of the most powerful statements that people make - layering words, image and identity.

Through a combination of writing and art workshops, participants pinned their feelings down on paper, to be seen and appreciated by the wider community in Leicester. They pay tribute to the people they care about most, describing their dreams and some nightmares too. They are touching, funny, ambiguous and surpisingly vulnerable. 

The project was a partnership between arthur+martha CIC, Rideout and the Education Department of Milton Keynes College.  arthur+martha work with people whose voices might not be heard – homeless people, school pupils in danger of exclusion, older people in healthcare, holocaust survivors and others. Rideout, the commissioners of this project, have facilitated creative work in prisons for over a decade.

A Little Sentence is part of The Truth About, Rideout's programme of work in which professional artists are commissioned to develop new artworks that arise from spending time working with prisoners. The Truth About has been funded with support from the European Union (DG Justice), Simplyhealth, and Arts Council England. Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) is a registered charity that specialises in arts projects in the fields of crime, justice, punishment and the prison estate.

"GROW ROSES or you are wasting time & time you never get back." (Participant, HMYOI Glen Parva 2011)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

pic'n'mix part 2

good old FW always been here 2/6
picknmix rummage
elastic for yr knickers 1/-

On Saturday pic'n'mix went truly interactive: we invited shoppers, staff on their breaks, children and their grandmas to add to the icing poem, celebrating memories of Woolworths, at St Helens.

if you didn’t have any money 3/6
you could spend hours in
/- Woolies = where I first tasted
a quarter of allsorts a quarter of buttered brazils £sd

Five large glass doors were covered in coloured iced drawings and writing, featuring sweeties, buttons and bows, records, Ladybird clothing, cutlery, pots and pans and 'much, much more'.

quarter toffee treacle
thought I’d die happy
licqorice stringing ~
MUST GO Woolies goin cheap sweets in cellophane 6d
lollies in cardboard 3d
aniseed balls last forever =

The artwork attracted a constant flow of people, wanting to join in and share stories. Woolies is a communal memory of more than a shop: the danger of steeling sweeties from the pic 'n' mix, or a meeting place for a first date, or where 'my mummy worked', or the counter where you got your first school uniform, or where you went because you couldn't afford anything better.

walk around town with our eyes open
[we think but]
look up see the beauty see 2/6
hooks + eyes press-studs + rings

As the day went on the windows filled, I was kept busy getting extra stocks of icing, while musical floats went by as part of the Street Festival celebration.

Ella singing =
“Diamond bracelets Woolies doesn’t sell BABY”
stood outside /- it was raining
2oz sparkly bling

While Phil and I led the icing crowd, volunteers from the Four Acre group looked after a large stall showing the embroidery, ceramics and other artwork they'd helped to create; they invited the general public to create their own poetic doilies and decorated biscuits. Over the two days the team of volunteers helped 100s of people create their own artworks to take away. Thank you so much Marion and George, Brenda, Marion, Norma, Eddy and Joan.

More photos from the day can be found at
To read about the rest of the project at Four Acre, please look at our other blogs...

FINAL lost in the age of retail parks OFFER
in Ladybird clothes in white kneesocks
stood in Woolies doorway.

(Group poem
Chester Lane Library
1st Sept 2011)

Monday, 12 September 2011


On the 2nd of September as part of our project in Four Acre, Phil and I took to the streets, to make an installation on the windows and doors of the disused Woolworth Store right in the heart of the shopping area on Church Square, St Helens.

pic’n’mix transformed for a couple of days the sadly neglected face of Woolies into a joyful, witty, poignant work of self-expression, straight from the community which this store once served. The poem lasted as long as the rain held of, and sticky fingers resisted.

This piece was jointly composed by the Chester Lane Library art/reminiscence group in commemoration of Woolworths. This poem was one of the outputs of community art/poetry workshops commissioned by St Helens Council and delivered by arthur+martha in 2011.

pic’n’mix was written in icing sugar, in reference to Woolies sweet counter and had a hugely welcoming and enthusiastic response from the public. Some comments from passers-by were incorporated into the piece.

The poem is one single line that stretches along the bottom of the entire shop front, so that the reader has a sense of walking through the piece, into an earlier era that exists now only in memory. It is a work of collective reminiscence, verbatim from the Chester Lane group – it is literally the voice of the community, celebrating their past and also subtly reflecting on the transience of all things.
The work layers together the everyday poetry of conversation and the act of memory: childhood nostalgia, oral history, humour, anger, celebration, commemoration. A coming together of many individuals. The poem marks a shared past, not only of people in St Helens, but of working people across a whole century in all their tragedies and triumphs.

if you didn’t have any money 3/6
you could spend hours in
/- Woolies = where I first tasted
a quarter of allsorts a quarter of buttered brazils £sd

Friday, 9 September 2011

Four Acre Tea Party

I've just loaded onto our portfolio site taken last week at the sunny Four Acre Tea Party event. Here are some examples...

Joan and Phil

Mayor Tom Hargreaves signing embroidered tablecloth

embroidered napkin

teacup and saucer with reminiscence and tablecloth 

embroidered bunting

library group at the tea party

some of the 'working worms'

 Kathy Johnson, Head of Libraries in St Helens said of the project " is a wonderful project, you have really tapped into something special. Well done to you!

embroidered tablecloth (detail) 

for more images please go to:

Thanks must go to Owen Hutchings, Jill Lynes of Re-New, All the members of 'The Up Plonky Activities Group', the Working Worms, Pat and Les Andrew and Mayor Tom Hargreaves.