Today I have my fourth guest post in a series of six by Carolyn Schofield (post #1, post #2, post #3). Carolyn is using her blog posts here to talk about using art therapeutically and about encouraging people of all ages to use arts and crafts to express themselves. Over to you Carolyn…
Joys Green Art Group
When I moved here just over 5 years ago, I soon learned there was an art group meeting in the Community Centre nearby. As it was run by my friend Peggy, I used to hear bits and pieces about what they were doing. When the Community Centre closed, the art group moved to the village hall in a place with the wonderful name of The Pludds. I recently went to visit them to see exactly what goes on there.
The group has been running for around 12 years now, and started when funding was gained to provide creative activities for people in rural villages. An artist-led charity in our region, Artspace Cinderford, sent out one of their tutors to meet community leaders locally to see if there was any interest. She met Peggy, who thought it would be a good way for older or less able people in our area to meet others.
The group functions independently from Artspace. Peggy handles the finances, books the tutors, hires the room, and enjoys taking part herself. Due to funding from local organisations, the classes are free for two terms, with a small fee the other weeks. Artspace helps by publicising the classes, which are open to anyone. They usually attract 8 – 10 people each week.
Over the years the group have tackled a variety of projects, including painting, pottery and spent several years doing some very innovative textile work, using recycled materials. Some of the work is done as a group project, and when the group met in the community centre the hangings they produced decorated the main meeting room there. The culmination of these projects involved producing a thirty foot string of bunting, which is now owned by Artspace.
There is a very friendly atmosphere: it’s clear that it’s a social occasion as much as an art group, but exercising one’s individual creativity is at the heart of what they do. While assessment is kept to a minimum, the tutor, Diana, has to produce lesson plans and there are progress reviews and learning logs to record the students’ progress. Also, at regular intervals the work produced is exhibited at Artspace. When I went to visit the most recent exhibition I was impressed by how beautifully the paintings were mounted and displayed.
I enjoyed seeing the students work on their most recent topic, entitled ‘Through a Window’. I spoke to Sylvia who said (as she wrangled with a complex scene that was not going well) that she thought doing art was good for your patience. I asked her what experience of art she had had in the past; she said she wasn’t taught anything at school, so she felt she had to start from scratch. Recently widowed, she particularly valued the socialising.
Recently some members of the group were thrilled to be contacted by Artspace, asking for their permission to turn some of their art work into cards, including both Peggy and Sylvia, who are very modest about their own ability. It is clear that this initiative has really enabled the participants to connect with their inner creativity in a safe and enjoyable environment, in which they have achieved far more than they would have ever done on their own.
We all have the ability to create wonderful things, if we are given the necessary encouragement and a supportive environment.
Thanks for reading.
Carolyn Schofield has an enduring love of craft activities of all sorts, including art journaling which she discovered this summer. She never quite gives up on any crafts, as her spare room and cupboards – packed with needlecraft and papercraft equipment, and half-finished projects – can testify.
Find Carolyn on Pinterest and Instagram.