Interview with Linzi, pompom maker extraordinaire over at The Pompomporium

I am loving the trend for Maximalist Interiors and fashion – it’s always been my personality and vibe. I like clashy, bright, bold and creatively chaotic. It makes me feel like me, in the sense of self expression, it satisfies my need for sensory stimulation and gives me a good old shot of dopamine. I purchased a neon pom pom star a good few years ago, originally for Christmas, but I’ve had it hanging up now everyday since then and it just is one of my favourite singles in the whole world. I bliddy love a pompom.

I tried to make one at The Crafthood’s social, a few years back and let me tell you, it is hard than it looks but is also an addictive craft. My pompom got an A for effort, but a D for neatness. But at least it made myself and everyone laugh at the workshop and Sebastian (my cat) gained a new cat toy he loved (for a short period – fickle gent!).

My love of colour, maximalist vibes and pompoms led me to find The Pompomporium on Instagram – anyone who is as in love with pompoms as I will already know Linzi and her gorgeous business, but for those who don’t – she’s a pompom maker extraordinaire!

Image of a Pompom bouquet made by The Pompomporium

Linzi is smashing it out of the park growing a creative business that works for her and her family; I wanted to celebrate and showcase that. Building a business and being self-employed, has the benefit of being built around the individual, set your own boundaries, your own work pattern, your own working style, which can enable a creative thrive, flourish and simply exist.

I had the pleasure of meeting her at Make & Mend Festival 2021 and I thought I’d follow up with a little Culture Vulture interview, to satisfy and shout about my pompom love and so you can all get to know Linzi a little better.

So first Culture Vulture interview of 2022…. Over to you Linzi!

Image of colourful Pom pom earrings made by The Pompomporium.

First up, who are you?

Hiya! I’m Linzi, I’m 32, have two kiddos and run my business from my home in NE England.

Lush, so what’s your business?

It’s called The Pompomporium (which just gets more fun to say after a couple of drinks) and I make bright, bold homewares and jewellery, almost always involving pom poms.

Image of Linzi – The Pompomporium.

How did it all start?

I think I’ve always classed myself as a crafty person, but I didn’t become a maker until after I was medically retired back in Spring 2018. Prior to that I was a secondary school English teacher, and whether it was lesson plans, wall displays or cunning schemes to make the kids actually care about what some dead white guys had to say – I was definitely creative! I loved my job, it was definitely a vocation, and to lose it overnight could have broken me. I knew I needed something new to keep me busy, but that would fit in around my variable health needs and left me energy for being a parent.

Image of colourful Pom pom stuffed into a letter R made by The Pompomporium.

And the big question….why pompoms?

That’s where pom poms came into it. I had made my first ever wreath a few years before 2018; a Wonder Woman themed wall hanging for my daughter’s fourth birthday. Poms are this excellent juxtaposition of being really mindful in the making but full of excitement and joy once they’re made; I love that. I know they’re a bit silly, but honestly the world is dead hard sometimes and I think we all deserve something silly!

Image of colourful Pom pom in letter T shape made by The Pompomporium.

I made an infamous pompom that is now my cat’s favourite little toy – it was not neat AT ALL like yours, how do you get yours so beautifully and juicily round?

I have two top tips for pom pom making so grab your pens!

Firstly, wrap tight. I use DK acrylic yarns (my favourite are Paintbox and Stylecraft) and know that your pom maker can take plenty of wrapping. The tighter you wrap, the denser your pom pom will be.

Secondly, you need decent scissors. An embroidery pair is always a great shout but if you’re making to sell, I’d also recommend a pair of fiskars. These fluffy little spheres take more trimming than you would think; it will save your hands if you have sharp tools.

Image of Pom pom bouquet being made by The Pompomporium.

How long do your pompoms take to make?

This is tough to answer because a teeny one that I’ll use in jewellery might only take ten minutes, but a very large, patterned pom – such as leopard print or floral – takes much more time, closer to 45 minutes.

Image of colourful Pom pom flower earrings made by The Pompomporium.

I’m a huge fan of your homewares – especially your wreaths – I like quirky, colourful, patterned and bold pieces around me. Do you plan those types of pieces?

Thank you so much! I do plan, I make terrible sketches that rarely see the light of day but they help me keep my messy ADHD brain in check. I’m a big fan of maximalism and more is more, I definitely think that comes across in my work, and I get lots of inspiration from things I love and the things my kids love! The rainbow wreath, for example, was first made for my bright loving son.

Image of colourful Pom pom wreath made by The Pompomporium – next to a fox stuffed animal.

Maximalism all the way! Can you share three other makers or creative Instagrammers that inspire you?

I love @imakestagram, @shittycraftclub & @fatpompoms ✨

So, what products do you sell and where can people purchase?

I will put a pom pom on just about anything to be honest. I make wreaths, banners, bouquets, fairy lights, garlands, hair clips, headbands, earrings, necklaces… I’m certainly missing things out! I sell via Etsy, And So To Shop, Not on the High Street and my own website – www.thepompomporium.com

Image of a bouquet of pompoms made by The Pompomporium.

I know 2021 was a challenge for most creatives, but do you have a highlight that you’d like to share?

People have really responded to the things I make and that feels like proper magic. My Christmas collection in particular was so well received; I love that I get to be part of a family’s traditions in some small way.

Image of colourful Pom pom flower earrings made by The Pompomporium.

And for realness, a low point?

My low points are almost always health related. I really love this little business I’ve created and I hate to feel like I’m letting someone down because I’m having a flare up or a hospital stay. I do genuinely have the most understanding and kind customers though; I very rarely have anyone upset because of it.

Image of Linzi working in her creative space.

You’re a disabled maker – Can you tell us a bit about that?

I’m just going to preface this by saying the disabled community is a beautiful thing. You’ll find many, many chronically ill and disabled makers in small biz land because we don’t fit into a mainstream working environment, in the same way that queer creators, parents working around their kids, Black and brown makers who aren’t appreciated in their fields and many other marginalised groups find a home amongst other creatives. So, yes, it can be tough to work from bed with tremors in my hands and having to stop for a nap after every couple of poms, but it’s very worth it for the myriad of ways I’ve been able to learn from those people.

Image of colourful Pom pom hairclips made by The Pompomporium.

If there was one thing, that if you could, you’d change in the creative sector immediately to make it more accessible and inclusive, what would it be?

No more craft fairs in inaccessible buildings please.

Where the magic happens…..Image of Linzi’s making space & office.

Any advice to share with aspiring disabled makers and artists?

You don’t have to hustle constantly, resting is productive, lean on your people and always write down your suppliers.

Image of colourful Spring wreath made by The Pompomporium.

Do you have an upcoming project or collection that you can tell me about?

I have many a plan for this year! I’m mid-design on some pom pommed bunny ears for Easter. I also have a small homeware collection, including cushions with pom pom corners and tassel mirrors, coming later this year.

Image of colourful Pom pom headband made by The Pompomporium.

Do you have a creative or business aspiration for 2022?

Does survival count? Honestly though, this pandemic has been brutal on all of us, and it’s made me realise that my business needs to make me happy – I’ll be making and designing things that I genuinely love and if they sell then that’s excellent, too.

Image of “you are my sunshine” wreath made by The Pompomporium.

Thank you Linzi!

You’re such a gem and readers, please check out The Pompomporium via: www.thepompomporium.com // @thepompomporium – you won’t regret it – perfect accessories, gifts and homey loveliness. I am now thoroughly convinced that I need a full-blown pompom coat – sounds like an essential item for this gal! Or a shift dress? OR BOTH! I want to be adorned in these furry little colourful beauties!

Until next time, Culture Vultures!

Stuart Langley; an artist lighting up the world one installation at time…

So I’ve had a full weekend of Culture Vulturing – I’ve been all over the place to galleries previews, to live painting, to workshops, to Christmas markets, to the theatre, to Lumiere Durham and I can tell you, that it has given me a total Monday spring in my step.

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Giant Slinky – End Over End at Lumiere Durham

It has filled my soul with such lushness and all feels great in the world of the Culture Vulture, today on this glorious Monday. Lumiere Durham was of course, a total highlight…. I mean…. WOW! I LOVE Durham at the best of times, but with light installations, sculpture and projections around every corner, I fell in love with it more. So after Lumiere Durham, catching up with Stellar Projects ahead of Nightfall AND hitting up Light Up North’s residency launch at The Biscuit Factory on Friday eve – my world is presently #lit with my love for light installations so it just feels like the perfect time to share this interview with one of my hands down fave light artists, Stuart Langley.

Stuart Langley is one of many artists creating a BRAND new light installation art work for Nightfall 2019 (last few tickets still available for this lush outdoor event in Teesside) and he is someone I’ve fangirled from a far for ages. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of championing his work, programming his work, I’ve even got slightly drunk at a Curious Arts auction and purchased his work and across 2019, I’ve worked with him multiple times. It’s funny in the freelance world – folks like Stuart, whilst I’ve only met a couple of times in *real* life, due to ongoing projects, I speak to him more currently than some of my mates.

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Stuart Langley

Stuart is a graphic designer, maker, installation creator and neon rule breaker…. His light installation pieces are just amazing. I knew from the moment, he created a toilet with a neon rainbow coming out of it, that he’d cemented his place on my top fave artist list. AND he’s a local lad from Hartlepool, big up the North creating work on a National (and International) field.

I’m BEYOND excited to see his new piece at Nightfall – I’ve seen the mock up drawing of and I know where it is going to go – it’s epic, it’s brilliant, it’s colourful, it’s ambitious….it’s VERY Stuart Langley.

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So without further ado…. Let’s hear from Stuart!

Hi Stuart, we’ve had this interview on the cards for ages…. So let’s get down to it for my readers; who are you and what’s your practice?

I’m Stuart Langley and I design, create and imagine things with lights and that.

Standard Culture Vulture question…… tell us about your journey into the creative arts?

I’ve always created – from making model rollercoasters and stop motion animation as a kid to being able to create big installations nowadays. I didn’t do a degree in the arts (I ended up doing Japanese and French), not even a GCSE, because I was always told being creative could only ever translate into a hobby. I ended up doing a foundation degree in graphic design and worked (and still do) as a graphic designer which gave me the confidence to imagine on a big scale.

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Amusements – Stuart Langley

It’s so bizarre that folks don’t believe that there is a career possible in the creative industries and that message is still being communicated….Your pieces are really interesting, some have a ‘Langley flare’ and others are completely different in style…. Where do you get the inspiration from for your pieces?

Anywhere and everywhere but anything that holds my interest for longer than a day or so is always worth developing.

Tell me about your involvement with Nightfall 2019?

For Nightfall, the plan is to create a piece that is going to reanimate the iconic aviary space which is very exciting but kinda intimidating as it’s a space I’ve wanted to do something in for ages. I’m just one of a number of commissioned artists that are going to be turning Preston Park into a magical moon themed escape for two nights in December.

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Hartlepool Art Gallery – Stuart Langley Solo Exhibition

Tell us a little more about your piece? What was the inspiration?

So the iconic Aviary is going to be filled with about 3,000 floating iridescent butterflies that should look a little like magic. The work is inspired by a moment: at the end of July this year I looked out of the window and saw hundreds of butterflies everywhere – I was having a shit day and it made me smile.

Apparently, painted lady butterflies make an annual 7,500 mile trip from Africa to the Arctic Circle every year and 2019 just so happened to feature a major pit stop on the Teesside coastline. So, thinking about extraordinary journeys in the sense of 2019 being the anniversary of the first moon landing, the aim is to create a piece which celebrates a magical journey of the natural world.

Why should folks get tickets for Nightfall 2019 and see your piece?

First off, for a one-of-a-kind and memorable trip out on a cold December evening, it’s a bargain. Plus, there is so much going on in the programme, there is bound to be something for everyone to enjoy – not forgetting the appearance of the iconic ‘Museum of the Moon’ by Luke Jerram which is surely reason enough to get tickets.

There feels a real buzz around culture and events in Teesside at the moment – do you feel that too?

Yes – Teesside and its people, have so much resilience, humour and creativity. It’s good to be the underdog and so many organisations (the Auxiliary, Pineapple Black, Platform A, Navigator North, Creative Factory etc etc) are proper flying the flag for creativity in the North East. There’s a ridiculous myth that art happens down South and although there is a higher concentration of cultural activity down there I think Teesside is able to put a completely different spin on things.

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Neon and That – Stuart Langley

I couldn’t agree more and In Teesside you see that real unique partnership work of Indie galleries and orgs working together with the more “traditional sector players”….you don’t often see that. Back to your work, you often create outdoor art pieces that require real technical knowledge to survive the elements – do you enjoy the creative challenge that creates?

To say that I create things is a bit of a fib. I’m fortunate to work with so many other people with so many different skills and knowledge and the success of a piece is always reliant on the quality of the collaboration. It’s essential to collaborate when you’re coming up with ideas for outdoor pieces as there are so many different factors to consider.

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Over – Stuart Langley

Tell us about your involvement with Curious Arts (who will also be popping up at Nightfall!)?

Being a gay lord myself, I think it’s important to support work that champions the outsider and increases visibility of LGBTQ+ comrades. Curious Arts are doing some really ground-breaking work in terms of making the arts part of a wider drive for equality and I’m always happy to play a small part in that.

(The Culture Vulture adds – Following the success of Start’s installation ‘over’, featured as part of Curious Festival 2016, Curious Arts reconnected with him to reimagine the World AIDS Day ribbon. Curious Arts challenged Stuart to create an artwork inspired by the World AIDS Day charity ribbon to reinstate its distinctiveness in ensuring visibility for the 36.7 million people globally who are living with HIV & AIDS.

36point7 saw the creation of 36.7 of Stuart’s neon light box, available for a minimum donation of £360.70 each. Curious Arts’ ambition is that each limited edition piece will be displayed in a visible public area for a minimum of two weeks annually – National HIV testing week and the week of World AIDS Day (1st December). In addition, a large touring piece is in development which will be accompanied by a programme of workshops and talks delivered in partnership with local HIV & AIDS affected communities. I purchased one of the smaller Light boxes for £360.70 to support the project)

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Do you have a fave piece that you’ve created? If I had a gun to your head and you had to pick one?

I’ve never had a gun to my head, a few other choice implements but never a gun – so that’s quite difficult. I am never happy with the work I put out – it’s a feeling a lot of other creatives have – there’s always something that could have been done differently to improve the end result. But staring down that loaded barrel, there’s a work I keep revisiting called VHS R.I.P. (the fourth incarnation of it was shown at Pineapple Black earlier in the year, the first version was shown as part of Nuit Blanche Brussels way back in 2014) which has a very exciting mix of subject and material: video tape, horror and light. Maybe being obsessed with films like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and The Never Ending Story as a kid has something to do with my love of VHS and wanting to give it a proper send-off/funeral but it’s also nice to think of defunct technologies like absent friends and do right by them through celebration.

LOVE that answer….Tell me about the toilet with the rainbow coming out of it?

I’m a big fan of the work of people like John Waters, David Hoyle and more recently the artist Christeene. They all promote the idea of revealing and celebrating the beauty to be found in the dirt; ultimately highlighting the ridiculousness and hilarity of modern values that try and push us towards glazing over the more unsavoury and carnal aspects of our existence. So, the rainbow in a bog considers a lot of these ideas as well as being a direct response to some of Bobby Benjamin’s work which I thought looked a bit like the insides of a very healthy and active bowel.

rainbow in a bog - image by kev howard

Rainbow in a Bog – Stuart Langley

Tell me about a fellow artist that inspires you currently?

I went to see Christeene perform Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion The Witch and The Cobra at the Barbican recently and loved how feral and honest her performance was. She has so much drive and ambition and never apologises for being so intense and direct – her energy is inspirational and I hope one day I can take my own work to a level where it might have a positive impact on other people’s lives.

Any advice for future creatives?

Just make stuff.

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Two Hearts – Stuart Langley

You don’t really do much social media – which blows my mind – how do you champion yourself and your work?

I came off Facebook in 2013 or summat and have since ditched everything else, most recently turning off Instagram. There was a time when what you experienced and what people told you directly mattered most and whilst there are some really good things about social media I personally think it adds too much noise, distraction and negativity to our lives. Maybe I’ll turn it back on in a year or so when all the commissions dry up from lack of presence on the internet.

Well, if you need a social media “representative” look no further! Do you have a highlight of 2019 so far?

I’m working on two big projects at the moment – the Nightfall installation and something for Ushaw College in Durham so fingers crossed I don’t fuck it up…

What’s next for Stuart in 2020 – anything you can share?

All buns in the oven for now but I would really, really like to make a ghost train before I pass away…

STUART LANGLEY - STAINED GLASS CARS image by michael wood

Cars – Stuart Langley

Can I be one of the first to ride it please? Thanks Stuart, an artist who inspires me and reminds me that my dream of having a house full of neon art work to dance around near, on a Friday night, is more possible than ever before. See, all you folks planning your families and lives and I’m planning when I can afford a Langley commission, with a Light Up North commission and a Dan Cimmerman….

To see Stuart’s new commission at Nightfall 2019, why not nab one of the last few tickets available….. I’m so excited to see it in person! You can’t follow Stuart on social but he does have a website…so you can check him out there!

Megan Randall; Guerilla Clay, #getnorth2018 & making.

I was delighted to recently be invited to do some real time culture vulturing around Ouseburn Open Studios for their spring event. Just trumped by Eurovision, Open Studios is a calendar favourite of mine. I had a wonderful time with my pretend paparazzi for the day, professional photographer and lush megababe Marion Botella, who captured my every move as I visited The Biscuit Factory, 36 Lime Street Studios, Northern Print, Jim Edwards Studios and The Kiln.

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One of my favourite elements of Open Studios is the opportunity to chat to artists and find out more about their process, passion , pieces…..most of the time, the people behind the art are just (if not more) interesting as the art itself. For the Spring Open Studios, the Biscuit Factory did something extra special in celebration of International Women’s Day; they invited the likes (and absolutely megababe favourites) The Crafthood, All Round Creative Junkie, Trendlistr, Megan Randall and others to host pop ups. Championing Northern artists is what I’m all about so that gets me excited, but championing female artists, well that gets me jumping out of bed in the morning!

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Artist Megan Randall

I loved my Spring Open Studios experience and it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with all the pop up artists at The Biscuit Factory especially ceramic artist and maker Megan Randall. I’ve met Megan a few times – she’s been to Culture Vulture events (yay!), works as a freelance participatory artist for the Baltic, hosts amazing pop up sessions at The Thought Foundation in Gateshead, has an interesting practice – all alongside a commission for The Great Exhibition of the North. Her pop up at The Biscuit Factory invited participants to create small, white porcelain flowers which would be used as part of the #getnorth2018 wider project.

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Megan is a fantastically interesting artist and maker – her work and passion is multidimensional; it crosses many different art forms. I really loved Megan’s recent 2016 Guerilla Clay Project; a series of installations, interventions and workshops in Northumberland National Park to engage communities, residents and visitors. The project came from the idea of sharing clay artworks with the world in an anonymous way; making things and putting them in public spaces for strangers to appreciate.  ‘Guerilla’ anything interests me – putting something pop up, unexpected or starkly out of place in a space really interests me.

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I also really like Public Art for the reason of community shared ownership, the ability to view art accessibly without a threshold, stumble across it almost but still able to fully appreciate it. In an open public space – the art belongs to everyone and every individual thinks, feels or connects to it differently.

Megan says this about her work: “In the process of my work I relinquish control, instead of having a predetermined outcome of how the work will be received. I do not mind if the work is stolen, destroyed or rearranged just as long as it is treated with the same passion used to create it.” I find this really interesting – as many artists become so unbelievably attached to their work, almost like a part of them. And even I with my creative projects – I could not disconnect at the point of project implementation and delivery….

I took my Open Studios visit as the perfect opportunity to catch up with Megan and get to know her more….find out about her projects.

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Hiyer Megan, it’s been lovely to chat and catch up – can you tell me how you became involved in this Spring Open Studios?

Rachel Brown, Biscuit Factory Gallery manager, invited me to attend the event; I had discussed with her making some work as part of Great Exhibition of the North and she wanted to link that to open studios for visitors to contribute to the project and see me making.

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Ohhh so this Biscuit Factory commissioned project is for #getnorth2018 – that’s really exciting! So brilliant to see Northern artists benefitting and securing work from what is going to be an ace summer! Tell me more about the project?

I am making a large installation that will be made up of approximately 14000 magnetic Parian flowers. The flowers are made by a combination of mould making and hand building; they range in size from 2cm to 14cm in diameter and each flower will be completely unique.

During Spring Open Studios, I made with visitors several hundred flowers, all of which will form part of the huge installation, almost a wall of texture. Each flower will be individually for sale except a number (including those made at open studios) which will be given away to distribute on street signs and lamp posts through-out the city.

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More Guerilla art, I love it! So where can people see the final piece?

The work will be displayed in the biscuit factory during #getnorth2018.

I love the individualistic nature of each flower and the fact so many Northern folk & Biscuit Factory visitors will have contributed to the end piece. What are you hoping people will think when they view the large piece?

I want people who visit the gallery to be confronted with a wall of texture which is bigger than them and is formed of small delicate components so that it becomes a solid mass of texture. I like the idea of being overwhelmed by something which individually so small.

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I know this is a super hard question to answer but I’m going to ask it anyway! Tell me more and your practice?

My practice is a confusing one; I have two strands. The first is Megan Randall (@meg_makes) which is where I make installations using hundreds, sometimes thousands of components. The second is Cobalt and Lustre (@cobaltandlustre) where I make and sell designed ceramics homewares, jewellery and art.

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The two practices complement each other; I make the large scale installation pieces because I love playing with spaces, watching people’s interactions with ceramic objects and gifting places with unusual objects. In my own artistic practice I tend to selfishly make for myself, make work which tackles issues which are important to me. This selfish making develops skills, new designs and new ideas which feeds into work made for Cobalt and Lustre; a wonderful platform to talk to people, gauge reactions, and get into the meditative role of making.

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Tell me about your journey into the arts?

I got the clay bug at primary school when I worked with a visiting artist to carve a clay robot which is still attached to the outside of the school. This encounter means that now I love working as an artist facilitator and working with schools, collages, families and community groups. I think that art is getting pushed further out of school timetabling which means there is less time to mess and explore materials, which alienates kids like me who were a bit rubbish at English and maths.

I did an art foundation then came to Sunderland University where I studied glass and ceramics at degree level and then went on to explore ceramics as a PhD student.

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Favourite project of 2017?

My favourite project of 2017 was being commissioned by art mix at the Baltic to make a bed and ceramic quilt where I collected peoples’ hopes and dreams. It was part of an exhibition called ‘What Happens to a Dream Deferred’ and for me was all about making beds and laying in them. I received a huge response and had dreams ranging from, ‘I want a pet dinosaur’ to peoples’ hopes for marriage proposals and regrets of broken relationships. There is something about anonymity that frees up people to say what they really mean. It’s why toilet cubicle graffiti is so interesting!

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Love that you made a project out of beds….One of my favourite venues in Gateshead is the Thought Foundation – what do you do there?

As well as working with the Baltic and National Glass Centre, I also work with Thought Foundation in Birtley. I love the space as a venue as it is so welcoming and inclusive, I sell things in their shop which is beautifully curated and have exhibited in their gallery space. I have also started delivering some workshops from there. And, it also sells an amazing caramel apple cake!

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Tell me about your future projects?

In 2018/19 I made a promise to myself to make an artwork each week, which is going well. I’m currently making 365 clay knots, all based around a love hate relationship with clay with is beautiful and malleable one minute and cracks and breaks the next.

I have been working with lots of school groups and applying for funding to instigate a project with older people based around memories. I will be exhibiting work at the Biscuit Factory and Thought Foundation in June. I have made a new range of jewellery for Cobalt and Lustre and have other projects lined up with local creative companies.

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Well that sounds ace Megan – I’m so excited to see your Guerilla flowers across the city during Great Exhibition of the North and to see your piece at The Biscuit Factory.

Check out Megan’s work Culture Vultures – it’s truly wonderful!

Sculpture Day 2016: Game ON!

It is very nearly Sculpture Day…..it is THIS Sunday, starting at 11am in Saltwell Park, Gateshead.

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So how are going to approach this year’s theme Games? Even if you’ve been before but especially if you haven’t, I want to make sure that you get the most out of the day and build something fantastic!

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I love this year’s theme Games; it is so open to interpretation! But I’m going to give you some ideas to get you started thinking – You could build;

  • Something from the Olympic games
  • A level from a retro game – eg: Sonic.
  • Your favourite Pokemon character.
  • Take an idea from a Computer game; e.g. Mario Cart, Grand Theft Auto or the Simms.
  • Something board game inspired e.g. Monopoly, Scrabble, Connect four, Hungry Hippos, Guess who or a 90s favourite of mine; Dream Phone!
  • App games – Candy Crush, Subway Surfer…
  • Card games – poker inspired or exploding kittens.
  • School games – e.g. something Sports day related, What’s the time Mr Wolf, Red Rover or Tag.
  • A 3D reimagining of your current favourite Virtual Reality game.
  • Fair games – e.g. Hook a Duck.
  • Other games such as bowling, bowls, Pool, Snooker…..

I could go on, the list is simply endless and I can’t wait to see what you guys get building this year!

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I thought I’d ask the experts for a bit of advice that may help you get building….. I spoke to Karen Rann- A Sculpture Day sculptor, Anna Pepperall – Gateshead Public Art Curator, Adam Taylor –Sculpture Day addict and event’s manager and Jen Douglas – Gateshead based artist and sculptor. I gathered their hints, tips and insights to give you a helping hand to get started…..

What are your top tips for Sculpture day 2016?

Adam: Make it a family/group activity, everyone chipping in ideas, agreeing on a plan, choosing wood, and then building.

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Anna: Wear Warm clothes, and thick shoes/boots; bring lots of food, and your own hammers!

Jen: Either ‘ go with the flow’ and wait till you arrive to think about the Sculpture Day theme or, have a think about the theme beforehand, brainstorm ideas that you can bring along to work on with your family or group of friends you come with so you have starting points for what to make.

Right – so we’ve got lots of wood, they’ve got their tools – what is the best way to get started?

Adam: It’s always good to have a good plan, and think about how the various bits of wood are going to be nailed together.

Anna: Talk to Staff on the Info desk, look at a storyboard for inspirational ideas , ask an artist, or join a group already working on something.

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Karen: Think about framework, creating a good ‘bone structure’ it’s fun to save adding all the little details till the end.

Jen: If you get stuck for ideas there are Sculptors on hand to give you inspiration and get you started. Think through which of these ideas will work in 3D using wood and nails…. Some things might work better than others.

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Is it best to plan your sculpture before you start or just “go with the flow”?

Anna:  Either- some people prefer to come with an idea but often it’s good to look around and get inspiration, or from the Artists/Storyboard.

Jen: It’s sometimes useful to think about making the sculpture from the base up – work as a team/family to decided who works on which section of the sculpture so everyone has a job! With lots of different types of wood different lengths/thicknesses etc. might suit different sections to your sculpture so a plan may be useful.

Karen: Depends how you like to work it could be you spot an enticing bit of timber at that gets the imagination going, don’t forget to look at the school’s work for inspiration.

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For the Sculpture Day veterans or newbies out there, who attend year on year what would your advice be on approaching this year’s theme “Games”?

Adam: Plan something original!

Jen:  When you’ve decided what you want to make gather together some pieces of wood and lay them out on the floor so that you can start to ‘map out’ your sculpture and see how each piece might join together to form your 3D masterpiece. You can always tweak and add more pieces of wood to make the work more elaborate.

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It’s as much fun to just tinker away with the wood and create something quite unique and un-related to the theme – that is fine too Sculpture Day is a fantastic experience to have and everyone who comes along has fun!

Karen:  Don’t always go with the first idea, it may be a tricky one to transform into 3d, there’s so many types of games and a little time spent playing with ideas might lead to something really novel and fun to make.

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Well it’s over to you Culture Vultures; I’ll see you in the Grove, in Saltwell Park on Sunday from 11am.

Game on!

Great North Snowdogs…..5 weeks to go!

It’s not long until The Great North Snow Dogs launches across the North East (19th September – so just over a month away!) and lots of Big and Small Snowdogs pop up across the region in cultural venues, landmarks and local hidden gems.

Each Big Snowdog has been design by a professional artist; the North East and of course, Gateshead on the Gateshead Trail are set to come alive with colour from the fantastic designs!

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Last week we caught up with Corinne Lewis-Ward; a brilliant Gateshead based artist and the business brains behind Powder Butterfly.

Corinne has been a long-time champion of Arts in Gateshead (and of course – Arts regionally, Nationally and Internationally). She has also been selected as an artist as part of The Great North Snow Dogs project working on two Big Snow Dogs.

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We wanted to catch up with her and find out more about her work, her practice and of course, more about Snowdogs!

Hi Corinne, can you tell me a bit about your practice?

Just like many creatives, I work in a variety of ways! I have my own creative practice as an artist but I also have my own design company which is called Powder Butterfly.

With my design company I am interested in representing well-loved landmarks from different locations in the UK. I currently have a Newcastle/Gateshead collection, a York collection and a London collection.

One Snow Dog design was inspired by my Newcastle/Gateshead collection. I have lived in the North east for 18 years and all of the landmarks hold a special place in my heart.

How did you hear about The Great North Snowdogs project?

I heard about The Great North Snowdogs at the North Design Centre in Gateshead. It was a really exciting event where we got to meet people from Wild In Art, St Oswalds and some of the sponsors and other creatives. There was a buzz about The Great North Snowdog project and I could tell that it would be wonderful to play a small part in it.

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Why did you decide/want to get involved?

I wanted to get involved because St Oswalds is an amazing organisation that carries out wonderful work throughout the North East, and being part of the raising money and awareness for their cause and activity was something that I really wanted to be part of.

I also love The Snowman and the Snow Dog animation, I enjoyed watching it with my kids and I could see how much fun this project was going to be with The Snowdog as the sculpture.

This project also took me out of my comfort zone to a certain degree as painting is not something that I do every day. Increasingly I work with digital media, but I was really keen to have the chance to use my art school experience to create something completely unique.

What was the process behind submitting your designs for your Dog and getting the green light?

The process was pretty simple really; I had to come up with a design in a two dimensional format and submit it as part of my application. I knew that I wanted to use the basis of my design from my Newcastle/Gateshead collection so I had a fair idea of how the artwork should look.

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I had to wait a few weeks before finding out if I had been successful. I knew that there would be selection process where sponsors would get to see the designs and then choose their favourite.

How did you feel when you found out, you’d been selected not once, but TWICE!?

I was really thrilled to find out that my Newcastle/Gateshead design had been selected from my original application. When I was working on it I was asked to carry out a VIP Snowdog commission which was amazing. Having two Snow Dogs on the sculpture trail is really wonderful and it is such an honour to be selected to carry out a VIP commission.

What were the inspirations behind your Snowdog designs? (only say as much as you can!)

Newcastle/Gateshead landmarks were the inspiration for my first design. All I can say about the VIP commission is that the design is based upon a well-loved British children’s author and illustrator.

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As you can imagine we all want to keep the sculpture trail a surprise for people so I wouldn’t want to reveal any spoilers.

Can you reveal any secrets regarding your Dogs, locations, names, sponsors?

The name of the Newcastle/Gateshead design is Tyne Tail Jack you can follow him on twitter @TyneTailJack . The lovely Sponsors are called The North Group and they have been operating in the North East for 150 years. The location of the dog will be on the Newcastle side of the Quayside.

As far as my VIP commission is concerned I am not able to reveal much at all about this lovely pup. But as soon as I do I will let you know what I can.

How does it feel as a Gateshead based Artist, to be featured within such a high profile North East campaign?

I am so proud to be part of this project. Although I am originally from London, I have lived in the North East for 18 years and I love it up here.

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I am so passionate about Gateshead and the amazing creative community that we have here. To be part of such a high profile campaign is wonderful and I am really excited to see how the local community and visitors to the region respond to the amazing work that artists from the local area and all over the country have created.

Each dog has its own very unique character and there are so many brilliant designs that have also been created by local schools and community groups as well.

Have you seen any other Snowdogs yet?

Yes I have seen some fabulous Snowdogs. I have been working in the studio in Newcastle that is provided for artists to work on the dogs and I am so excited that I have been lucky enough to meet some amazingly talented artists in the process.

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The studio is also the place where all completed dogs come to before the sculpture trail. So all of the school and community art dogs and the sculpture trail dogs end up there, so I am looking forward to seeing many more over the coming weeks.

Why are projects like this so important to the North East cultural agenda?

Events like this raise awareness of what is going on up here creatively and raise awareness of the great work St Oswalds does for people in the region.

It will also bring people from outside of the region to the area which will help introduce new audiences to the North East and help stimulate the local economy. With my design I have tried to help foster links between industry, the corporate world and the arts. I think the project model that Wild In Art have created really demonstrates how seemingly disparate bodies can work together to achieve great things creatively.

Do you intend to complete the wider Great North Snowdogs Public Art Trail and (of course!) the Gateshead Trail?

I can’t wait to attend the sculpture trail with my friends and family. It is going to be amazing to see how many pictures of the Snowdogs we can collect before they go to auction at the end of the year. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to document the event and see how many we can take pictures of. I am also excited to see where they all end up being located.

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After Gateshead Sculpture 30 Festival, Playground at Baltic and now Snowdogs, there seems to have been a bit of a shift towards more accessible, interactive sculpture and outdoor Art! We really love this as it gets people outdoors, exploring alongside engaging with Art and Sculpture! What do you think about this?

Any kind of project or campaign that makes art more accessible to a wider audience is something that I love to be part of. With my creative practice as an artist, I attempt to bring art and science together which could be seen as two entirely unrelated subjects. But I have found that audiences are really interested and engaged in this sort of work especially if you make the work engaging and accessible.

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The Great North Snow Dogs project is one of those special events that will get people exploring, engaging and sharing their experience through social media. I think I have also heard rumours of an app being created for the event so I am keen to see what that will be like. It’s going to be a wonderful and exciting event and I am so thrilled to be a small part of it.

How brilliant and thank you Corinne! So Culture Vultures – as of the 19th September, you have ten weeks, so find, discover and snap a selfie (or a snowfie, as we are calling them) with the Snowdogs across the region and of course Gateshead.

In the meantime; Tweet a “hello” to Corinne’s Snowdog @TyneTailJack, visit Snowdogs webpage to keep yourself up to date on all things Snowdog related including any app information. You can also catch them on @GreatNorthSnowdogs on Facebook and @great_snowdogs on Twitter.

We can’t waitttttt for Snowdogs!

Gilbert Ward July Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month.

Another Month over and another Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month; for July we have been lucky enough to have Gilbert Ward as our artist in residence in Saltwell Park!

Gilbert in action

Gilbert is a local favourite sculptor with strong ties to Gateshead Riverside, Cheeseburn, Northumberland and he has recently completed a residency in Alnwick Gardens. Those of you, who keenly attend Anna Pepperall’s Public Art Walks may have even met Gilbert during an interpreted Riverside Walk, as he talked through his inspirations and practice when creating Foliate Forms’.

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Foliate Forms’ by Gilbert Ward (2010), Gateshead Riverside Park

Every Tuesday in July, 10am-3pm Gilbert pitched up next to the Rose Garden, in Saltwell Park and offered passers by the opportunity to see and experience Sculpture in Action. As it is in the midst of the Summer holidays, Gilbert was not in shortage of people in the Park eager and curious, to find out what he was doing!

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Through-out his time in Saltwell Park, Gilbert was working on a new piece called “The Kiss” made out of Doddington Stone; the piece really blossomed and developed across the month with many Park goers returning to see how the work was progressing.

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Some Park goers simply relaxed and took in his practice interested in the process, the form and the image but many, including myself, wanted to get more hands on and actually have a bit of a go whilst visiting the Park, a place many visitors describe as “the lungs of Gateshead”.

Speaking about sculpture Gilbert commented “I am a sculptor and a sculptor’s work is his statement. Sculpture cannot lie; it is an idea, material, form and structure, brought together in an object, which occupies a particular space with its presence.”

Gilbert was born proudly in 1935, in Yorkshire and like any typical Yorkshire man; he’s a big fan of his Yorkshire brew! He lives, works and of course sculpts in amongst the beautiful landscape of Northumberland.

Gilbert Ward has been commissioned to develop many sculptures across the North East of England. Gilberts work in stone and wood stems from a fascination with formal geometry and structures found within nature. Often carving on site or with communities Gilbert works to develop a sculptural response to a landscape.

One such piece is positioned in Saltwell Park – Foliate Carving. It’s a beautiful peace and there is something about it, something natural and connected the growing wonderland around it that feels so right and as if it truly belongs.

Foliate Carving – Gilbert Ward (2006)

“When I am working for a fixed site, I try to make the piece (usually in stone) fit the place, and fitting into its landscape. One hopes that those who pause upon finding the sculpture will come to an understanding of its meaning, and of it becoming a living part of their landscape.”

Gilbert has many more pieces across the North East and viewing them is a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and exploring this Summer. Another beautiful piece is situated up at Bowes and Tanfield Railway Paths……

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Standing Stone by Gilbert Ward.

Gilbert also has installed 2 collections of small sculptural works at Cheeseburn which he has been developing over the last 10 years: ‘Bakers Dozen’ (hornbeam) and ‘The Fall’ (ash).

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Cheeseburn – Gilbert Ward

Sited in the old potting shed at Cheeseburn these works explore the potential of natural forms for growth and evolution.

“I live in the hope that others will get the same amount of pleasure seeing the work, as I did in preparing and making it.”

Well with another month over in our Sculpture 30 celebrations, that means two things…… 1. We are nearing closer to the end of the year-long festival! Boo! But 2. We’re one month closer to the next Gateshead Family Sculpture Day, which this year is on 25th September, as always in Saltwell Park, in the Grove. We can’t wait!

Yeyyyy…….with less than two months to go, Gateshead’s 31st Sculpture day count down is officially on!

Cultural kid’s activities in Central Gateshead this Summer

The summer holidays are nearly here…..and I know what you’re thinking if you’re a parent!? What am I going to do with my mini mes over the Summer Holiday period……

Well there is LOTS going on in Central Gateshead, a real diverse mix of activities both indoors and outside for a range of ages. We want to keep your kids entertained, discovering new things and having lots of fun. That is what the English Summertime should all be about…..

Summer holiday activities kick off with a bang with a Theatre Set Design Workshop with Tanya Axford

Wailes Room, Gateshead Central Library – Saturday 16 July, 10am – 12.30pm

Work with visual artist Tanya Axford, who masterminded the set for ‘In A NutShell’ to create your very own imaginative theatrical world and become a part of it! This is a unique experience for theatre loving creatives to work with a professional!

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In A NutShell set – Tanya Axford

For ages 7+ (all children must be accompanied by an adult).

£ 3 per child

Click to book

We then move onto the launch of Summer Holiday Culture Camp

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Have you got a budding artist at home who wants some inspiration in the summer holidays? Culture Camp gives young people aged 8-14 an opportunity to work with a different professional artist each day to try lots of interesting arts activities and materials.

Monday 25 JulyKate Eccles will help you to create your own unique hoodies and bags using recycled fabrics.

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Bring along something you don’t mind cutting up and transforming by adding horns, flowers, skulls or animals.

£20

Click to book

Tuesday 26 July – Artist Paul Merrick will have you mastering your drawing and painting skills using lots of different materials.

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Move from 2d to 3d over the day and turn some of your ideas into your own sculptural mobile to take home for your bedroom.

£20

Click to book

Wednesday 27 July – Try your hand at printmaking with experts from Northern Print Studio, with monoprinting in the morning and using letterpress in the afternoon to make cards, posters or bunting for your bedroom.

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£20

Click to book

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Minecraft Special is a free drop in session…

Gateshead Central Library – Wednesday 3 August, 11am

As part of the Summer Reading Challenge; bring books to life in Minecraft. Help us recreate a Minecraft Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory.

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Free, just drop in!

More info

Welcome to the Circus: Workshop for all the family

Ever fancied learning some circus tricks to show off to your friends…..well we’ve got a corker of a session for you….

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St Mary’s Heritage Centre – Friday 5 August, 1pm-3pm

Become a trainee circus performer for the afternoon and try out some of the skills it takes to join the circus, including Plate spinning, Poi, Gymnastic Ribbon, Juggling, Hula Hoop, Tight Rope Walking and Beginners Stilts in this action packed session. Both children and adults will equally enjoy showing off their favourite skills at the graduation to the Big Top showcase where everyone will receive a certificate welcoming them to the circus.

This exciting and energetic workshop is suitable for anyone over 7 years, all equipment will be available.

£10 per participant

Click to book

Over The Moon Glass Workshop

Wailes Room, Gateshead Central Library – Saturday 6 August, 10am-12.30pm

Join glass artist Effie Burns to make ‘space’ inspired glass pieces that are out of this world, in this family friendly workshop.

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This workshop is perfect for parent and child to work together on a lovely glass project…..

Suitable for ages 7+

£10 – Please book places for both children and adults taking part.

Click to book

Mad About Monkeys

Have you got a cheeky monkey at home? Well this free workshop is perfect just for them….

Gateshead Central Library – Thursday 11 August, 2pm

A monkey sculpture craft afternoon for all the family.

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Free, reserve your place!

To reserve a place click

Whimsical Windchimes

Have you checked out the community garden at Gateshead Central Library; it’s always a hive of activity…..

Gateshead Central Library – Saturday 13 August, 10.30am

Join us to make your very own windchimes to hang in the garden this summer. Test them out first in our community garden!

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£2/£3 per child

Click to book

Creatures Up Close @ Central

Oooooh back by popular demand our beasties, creepy crawlies and unusual small animals…..book quick as this always sells out!

Gateshead Central Library – Monday 15 August, 2pm and 2.45pm

Your chance to get hands on and up close with some very unusual insects, reptiles and amphibians.

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£2/£3 per child

Click to book

I Dreamed A Jar

Have you seen the BFG? What would you put in your Dream Jar…… let’s find out!

Gateshead Central Library, Monday 22 August, 2pm

Staff at Central will be making their own Dream Jars so why not help them out or make one of your very own!

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Free

To reserve a place

Family Nature Doodling Workshop

The English summertime should be about getting outside and exploring…..

Meet at Thornley Woodlands Centre, off the A694 – Wednesday 24 August, 1pm – 4pm

Discover new ways of exploring our natural landscape through making temporary land art.

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Treehug – Jane Gower

Join Artist Jane Gower for a leisurely walk and explore the process of making – find beautiful objects in nature; seek out enchanting spaces; collect colours; and create sculptures and 3-D collages. They may only last a day, but you can capture your art piece in a photograph before it disappears.

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Ladders – Jane Gower

Please wear suitable clothing and shoes for the weather and bring a camera or phone to take photos of what you make.

£3/£5 – suitable for families

Click to book

Mrs Twit’s Trick Menu

Another Summer reading challenge activity……

Gateshead Central Library – Thursday 25 August, 2pm

Mrs Twit invites you to come along and sample her special menu. Do you fancy tomato-blood soup, octopus eyeballs or spider lollipops?

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Test your tastebuds and see which is the most delicious and make your own revolting recipe!

£1 per child

To reserve a place

Manga Workshop with Paul Belcher

Back by popular demand after last summer’s session…..

St Mary’s Heritage Centre – Thursday 25 August, 1pm-3pm

Local Community Artist Paul Belcher is returning to St Mary’s for his popular manga art session.

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It’s a great opportunity to learn some manga art techniques in this workshop suitable for children and adults. With Paul’s guidance you will create manga style portraits on A4 canvas using acrylics.

£5 per participant

Click to book

Summer Holiday Culture Camp – Make a Play in a Day

Do you have the next aspiring Jennifer Lawrence or Leo Dicaprio in your family?

Gateshead Central Library – Thursday 1 September, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Drama Teacher, David Raynor will help you create a play in a day; you get to experiment with a variety of acting and movement techniques, script writing and set design!

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£20

Click to book

Sculpture Making Workshop with Neil Canavan

Join Sculpture 30’s September artist of the month to get creating and making….

The Gallery, Gateshead Central Library – Saturday 3 September, 10am-12.30pm

Create mini sculptures that will help artist Neil Canavan create a largescale sculpture called ‘Juggernaut’ inspired by the large mobile structures that were pulled along by devotees in Hindu religious processions.

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Ship of Fools – Neil Canavan

The finished sculpture will feature at the 31st Gateshead Family Sculpture Day in Saltwell Park on 25 September!

Suitable for all ages and all materials provided.

Free, just drop in.

Click for more info

So get booking and reserving your places quick! This is just a flavour of Central Gateshead activities….there are more activities listed at www.gateshead.gov.uk/whatson at other branch library locations across Gateshead that you may want to check out!

 

 

 

 

 

May Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month….avid tea drinker, sculptor and artist Russ Coleman

Another month has passed and another Sculpture 30 artist……… through-out May we celebrated and got to know Russ Coleman as our May Sculpture 30 artist of the Month.

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Russ is one of those artists that can see creativity in everything and works across a wide range of mediums; from concrete to stone, from illigraphy to abstract drawing, from performance to sculpture. He’s a true maker and creator (and avid tea drinker!).

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The Late Shows 2016

“I make things for my own amusement and curiosity; my mum said I used to make a mess and my wife says that I still do.” – Russ Coleman

During the course of May, Russ led a workshop providing the very unique opportunity to carve letters into stone, within Gateshead’s historical St Mary’s Heritage Centre taking inspiration from the variety of surrounding stone work and lettering.

Russ Coleman Stone Letter Carving May 2016

Russ also was a hugely popular feature of our Late Shows offering this year at St Mary’s Heritage Centre. The culture crawl weekend across NewcastleGateshead is on to its 10th birthday, this year and we knew we wanted to do something unique and a bit different; hence asking Russ to lead on a drop in session.

Over 80 people on the evening had a go using a variety of instruments making their own marks on to stone.

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The Late Shows 2016

I caught up with Russ just after the Late Show’s weekend as I wanted to find out more about his work and practice…..

Would you be able to tell me a little bit about yourself and your practice?

I wish that I could say that I make wondrous and diverse artworks for complicated and clever reasons. But in truth I am just trying to make sense of my life and experiences.

At heart I am still the 8 year old boy wanting to show you what he has discovered outside in the yard.

What got you into working with concrete and stone carving?

The 8 year old boy grew up and left school. In 1980, I signed up for a city and guilds course in bricklaying and construction at the local technical collage as well as starting an apprenticeship with my father as a monumental mason. I was also heavily into drama performing with the local youth theatre.

I learnt over the next 9 years how to build a house, how to carve letters in stone and how to create a theatrical experience.

I take all these skills forward into the work I make. I see no hierarchy of materials; it’s all star dust having gone through different processes. I do like hard stones for the fact that they may hold a form for centuries more than most materials. I like concrete for its property of being temporarily a powder, then a liquid and then a solid.

Your experience being involved in St Mary’s Late Shows?

I enjoyed both the Late Shows drop in sessions and the letter carving sessions. It is good to demonstrate a skill and the reasons behind certain moves or processes. It concentrates the mind and helps me focus on things that I take for granted, such as being able to hold a hammer and chisel without skinning my knuckles all the time (although this still happens regularly). People were genuinely keen to learn and a few were surprisingly adept.

Have you got a favourite project so far? I can see you’ve done such a diverse range of stuff, even part of a mini golf range (love mini golf!)

It was a full Nine hole course called Ocean Drive and had a rock pool underwater theme sited on the sea front at Filey. It was fun to make but I should have taken part payment as a percentage of takings as it was very popular and paid for itself within one season.

I have no particular favourites as I like different works for different reasons.

I like the bronze plaques on the Stone Jetty in Morecambe. They really stretched my ability, a lot of fine carving in plaster that needed to be fairly exact. There is a surprising difference between a Plaice a Dab and a Flounder and I couldn’t use colour to differentiate them so it was all in the form and the surface detail.

The New Hartley memorial path was a great project because of the subject and the depth of feeling that all the people involved in the project showed in its creation.

I always get enthusiastic about the next project; it’s always a discovery and a journey into the unknown.

Tell me a little bit about Cop Crag composition?

This was one of several pieces that I carved for the Stone Academy based at the Bowes museum in 2013 Cop Crag is the name of the quarry where the stone comes from it is just north of Hexham. It has an unusual colour for a sandstone you rarely get a brown almost honey colour stone mixed with red and orange tones, they’re nearly always one or the other.

The Composition element grew out of the use of several pieces of stone at the same time. I started carving about 6 pieces using the various different makings or shapes of the sawn offcuts as starting points. I would place one on top of the other and follow lines through both pieces or carry forms over two items. It became a rhythmic dialogue between the stone and my eyes and hands. I settled on a final composition towards the end of the 3 day session.

Cop Crag Composition by Russ Coleman

Cop Crag Composition – Russ Coleman

Because it was carved at speed without paying too much attention to what it actually was, I realised in retrospect that it contains all the movements, gestures shapes and forms that are thrown up by letter cutting and construction.

What’s the future hold?

I have been working on some new pieces that bring all the elements of my interests together. They spring from that sense of wonder I mentioned earlier and the intent is to present the things I enjoy, they are a kind of heavy duty nature table made by a 52 year old boy

Favourite piece of Gateshead Sculpture?

Windy Nook. It holds fond memories for me and was made by an old tutor of mine. I like the fact that it has become part of the landscape and is thought of as being there for a lot longer that it has been.

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The New Hartley Memorial Pathway – Russ Coleman

So another month and another Sculpture 30 artist….however, our engagement with Russ Coleman is not quite finished yet. He is facilitating two interconnected fantastic ‘Abstract Expressionism Drawing Workshops’ on Wednesday 10th August and Wednesday 14th September, 6pm- 8pm.

If like me, you love drawing, but not traditionally good at it, this is YOUR opportunity to get creative with Russ; learn and experiment with a variety of mark making and drawing techniques. He will guide you and give you new ways to approach drawing with different medias to construct your abstract masterpiece.

For both sessions it is £15 and you can book your place now!

See you soon fellow Culture Vultures…..

 

Ed Carter – Sculpture 30 March Artist of the Month

Sculpture 30 is sure flying over fast – we’ve had an absolute blast so far and we are certainly ramping it up over the Summer.

Our March Sculpture 30 artist of the month has been Ed Carter;  Ed is a real creative, he’s an artist, a maker, a sculpture, an inventor, a musician, a DJ and an innovative visual artist.

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We were lucky enough to host a one off exclusive exhibition, right here in Gateshead in our Gallery space at Gateshead Central Library. The exhibition was called “Scale” and ran for just over a week from 17th March.

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Ed presented a new sculpture and sound installation inspired by the architectural approaches to scale, reflecting and exploring the gender imbalance seen within the industry and raised imperative questions about the potential consequences for the built environment.

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The visual piece and the accompanying sounds created a real sensory feast for visitors. Our such visitor Mark, voiced his experience of the exhibition;

“Relaxing, transfixing, mesmerising – this installation is sound-art at its most fascinating and mood-shapingly satisfying! Ed’s study and use of sine-waves and the extended, but stylised human form, at once induces emotional response; you can’t fail to be moved by this superbly minimalist installation! I will visiting every day for my tranquillity fix!”

Ed also visited our Gallery space on the 19th March, to meet and greet exhibition visitors providing an informal commentary on his work, the exhibition and practice. I can assure you, as a culture vulture, taking in an exhibition is one thing, but having the actual artist there with you to talk through their inspiration takes exhibition viewing to a new level.

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So for those of you, who didn’t meet Ed, who is he I hear you ask? Well….

Ed Carter devises and creates interdisciplinary projects that are context-specific, with a focus on sound, collaboration, process and technology. He takes patterns, associations, rhythms and chronology, and uses these to form the structures of new site-specific projects.

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And if you’re from the North East, you will certainly know a recent project of his; Flow.

Flash back to 2012 and you may remember on the Newcastle Quays, there was Flow, a tide-mill – a floating building on the River Tyne generating its own power using a tidal water wheel. The building housed electro acoustic musical machinery and instruments responding to the constantly changing environment of the river, generating sound and data. It was a little haven of magical calm!

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The project was a collaboration between Ed, Owl Project and other collaborators and spanned art-forms, blending contemporary and traditional methods, combining sculpture, cutting edge technology, hand crafted wooden instruments, architecture, precision engineering and electronic music to create an astonishing audio-visual public artwork.

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Over 40,000 people visited the free-to-board artwork, which was moored on the Newcastle quayside from March-September 2012, created as part of Artists taking the lead, one of twelve large-scale public art commissions funded by the UK Arts Council celebrating the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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I used to visit Flow all the time, as part of my ritual long summer walks along the Quayside in 2012 and it was an absolutely magical piece of interactive Art. Everyone’s experience of ~Flow was unique, as the instruments responded directly to the ever-changing state of the river.

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Fast forward to 2016, Ed worked on a project for BAFTA – 195 Piccadilly

Working as music composer and producer alongside creative visual studio NOVAK, ‘195 Piccadilly’ was a large scale projection onto the BAFTA building, commissioned as part of the inaugural Lumiere London festival. Lumiere London was attended by in excess of 1,000,000 people over the course of its 4 days.

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Exploring the different genres of cinema and television using images from BAFTA’s archive, the overall aesthetic refers to the origins of 195 Piccadilly as the home of the Royal Institute for Painters in Watercolour.

If you’d like to find out more….BAFTA did a short podcast about it:

A current project of Ed’s is his exhibition at the Lowry; Barographic is a site-specific composition project, creating graphic scores from atmospheric pressure data, and using the architectural form of the venue as an animated, 3D sequencer.

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The process reflects on different approaches to interpreting the built environment (and the manner in which architects invoke a sense of rhythm and flow through their designs), and captures something that represents our perception of ‘atmosphere’ – something less tangible, but central to our experience of public spaces.

If you’d like to find out more about this current work, Ed did a brilliant interview about it for 6 Music, so have a listen! Or even better, Culture Vultures, if you have the opportunity, why not go visit it!

I’m sure Ed has other fantastic projects lined up, but one to note is he is a speaker for The Manchester TED Conference! How exciting – I’m a big fan of TED.

Over and out Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month; Ed Carter. It’s been a pleasure!

Sculpture 30 artist of the month February: Tanya Axford.

Sculpture 30 artist of the month for February has been the brilliant Tanya Axford.

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Tanya Axford

I first met Tanya back in November when we hosted Shipley Lates with the Shipley Art Gallery which was a great way for people to engage with artists and have a go at a variety of arts activities whilst enjoying a glass of wine (or two) with friends! If you didn’t manage to catch that one, I highly suggest you make sure you get a ticket for the next one!

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Tanya ran a workshop creating sculptural necklaces that transform ordinary materials, to create geometric origami forms and combine them with cable ties, to produce beautiful wearable sculptural forms.

Tanya is a practising visual artist in the North East and has been for over 10 years. She is another resident artist at Workplace Gallery Gateshead too! See, I told you in my last post how much of a gem Workplace is, you HAVE to visit it.

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Babels Folly (2001) – Tanya Axford

Tanya creates sculptural installations, performances and video work, that focus particularly on the development of performative sculptures and drawings. She often uses multiples of everyday items, her works are often site-specific, making installations and interventions for both the gallery space and the landscape. Using mass-produced and familiar materials she manipulates, challenges and transforms them into temporary works, systematically fulfilling their latent potential with unique and playful results. She describes her work as ‘concerned with the creation of opulent, striking and immersive environments, firmly grounded in reality’.

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Sod’s Lawn (2001) – Tanya Axford

I caught up with Tanya a week ago and I asked her what her inspiration to keep creating is?

My inspiration often comes from the qualities and characteristics of materials, and moments of change where one thing transforms into another. I love the creative and unexpected use of materials in objects and artworks, and the possibilities created by combinations of materials and technology.”

This February saw Gateshead Culture Team work with Tanya twice; firstly for a performance piece of storytelling for children aged 3-6years old about an acorns adventure. Our Caedmon Hall, at Gateshead Central Library, was transformed into a magical world in which immersive sold out performances could take place.

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In A NutShell set 2016

Tanya worked with Alison McGowan and Elena Miller of Puppetship to bring In a Nutshell to life and to design and make the set. It was fantastically quirky, simple materials were used and transformed into a set that was quite dramatic and our audience of captivated little ones loved it and told me on leaving how “magical” it had been.

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In a NutShell performance 2016

Our second, working with Tanya was for a Set Design workshop in which participants could learn how to create their own imaginative, theatrical world. This workshop was a unique experience for young people in Gateshead, to experience theatre through a different perspective; a sculptural and visual arts perspective.

Participants worked with Tanya how to work with different materials and the layering effect to build a multidimensional shell. The young people attending loved the experience and we are hoping to run another workshop like it in the future; as it was a huge success.

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Set Design Workshop 2016 (participant’s work)

What a busy February for Tanya and us – 2016 is shaping up to be a hive of activity! So as we say goodbye to February, we say farewell to our February Sculpture 30 artist of the month! I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next….

Coming next Sculpture 30 artist of the Month March: Ed Carter……