As a follow-up to our last theme for discussion, Small Joys, local visual artist, Su Vosper, came along to share her skills and inspiration with the group. You can listen to the audio of that previous meeting, shown in two parts below.

Su and I brought along a selection of materials for the group to experiment with as we explored how to express what brings us happiness, contentment and gratitude.

It was very exciting to have all the things to be used laid out as the participants arrived. Funnily enough, stationary and art materials, as well as organisation, happen to be a few of my sources of joy! Below you can see Georgia kindly helping set up.

As people arrived, there was a friendly atmosphere peppered with curiosity and enthusiasm as well as some nerves. Not everyone in the group felt comfortable with creating their own pieces, including me! (I might like the pretty effect of colourful paints and pens laid out neatly, yet have seldom allowed myself to use them since my school days!)

However, with Su’s gentle encouragement and the clear message that we were here to play, experiment and have fun, NOT create a perfect final piece we would be “marked” on, we soon got stuck in. Before long, beautiful thoughts emerged in ideas and stories and then images. A range of materials and methods such as clay, paint, animation and collage were put to use and the room was filled with that low buzz of concentration that feels wonderful to be part of. We were like a hive of creativity bees working alongside each other. Below you can see some of our work emerging.

Susan Ash wrote about her experience and sent in a photograph of her watercolour painting after the session.

“For most of my adult life I have had the fixed view that I was hopeless at anything creative that directly involved using my hands – drawing, painting, model making, and even handwriting!  Although computer technology eventually gave me an outlet for creativity.  So I attended the workshop to challenge, and maybe surprise myself.  

My small joys come from nature, starting with wide open landscapes and at first I tried drawing from a photograph in small squares set up for a storyboard.  I found this quite constrictive and decided to change to a larger sheet of paper and water colours paints.  Because we had limited time I didn’t get too far with this, but found my mind racing ahead to think about ‘if I had a bigger brush’ and what I would add next if we had more time, and came home believing that with practice I could actually paint a picture.” 

A sketch of mountains with flowers in the foreground.

During the Christmas and New Year holiday period, Jean Byrne carried on working on the collage she started in the workshop. She explained:

“This collage “A year with Hazel” is about all the places and activities I did with my dear friend Hazel who died of blood cancer during the pandemic. She died on 13th October 2020 which was also her 78th birthday. This was only one day after going into hospital and receiving a diagnosis. She hadn’t even seen her GP about the problem as she was so busy being a carer for her husband. We had been friends for over 30 years.

Shortly before she died,  the BBC had featured the poem A Portable Paradise on its website to celebrate National Poetry Day. I forwarded the poem to Hazel to cheer her up. She was shielding as her husband was due to have a major operation. Hazel forwarded the poem to her daughter Susan. Susan then recited it at Hazel’s brief half hour funeral service.”

The poem weaves its way round pasted on photographs and cuttings from magazines.  They include gardens, cafes exhibitions, craft shows and paintings.

Conclusion

The workshop was a wonderful success. We drew in several new people, inspired each other with our creativity and joyful stories and and gave a new experience to more familiar participants, that they might not otherwise have tried. Tony Golding, our regular contributor summarised it well below:

“I thought it was great. It was good to try something a little different, if a little out of my comfort zone. I thought the session went really well; you and Susanna provided a wealth of art materials and the vast space available in our new venue was ideal for this activity. “

Thanks Tony! Thank you also to the whole group for being so enthusiastic, Maine Road FC for accommodating our slightly longer session as well as a big thanks to Su of course for inspiring and guiding us all so well. Follow the blog for more news on our future experiments and experiences. And remember to get in touch if you think you would like to join us for any of them!

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