Quick update

Been crazy hectic over the last 2 weeks. Here is a quick update of what I have been getting up to.

My ongoing family art project in Blackpool- we call it the Sunflower project. I am running a 10 week series of after school sessions in 2 primary schools on a very deprived estate. The idea is that the parents come with the children to do craft activities together. All the activities (based on a sunflower theme) are linked with topics that the kids are covering in school- right across the curriculum. It is a pilot project, but working well. We are enabling the families to be more aware of and involved in their children’s education and are adding masses of colour to the school and the community. Recently we have made bird feeders, planted sunflowers, made clay tiles, made windmills, t shirt painting and are continuing to work on a huge canvas to be permanently displayed in each school.

Wind in the willows project- Commissioned by Blackpool council, I continue to visit Blackpool primary schools, running workshops as a follow on to a theatre performance that they have subsidised to visit the schools.

Chewing gum project at Colne Primet High school – another long term project which I have been working on since before Christmas. As a freelancer for Curious Minds, I am currently working with the DT dept to make gum boards with year 9 kids. Part of a cross curricular project to address the issues surrounding gum in the school. Tomorrow I shall be making chewing gum with the kids. Should be interesting!

Lostock Hall girls art project. A continuing success- this has been ongoing for over a year now. A weekly after school arts session with a group of fantastic teenage girls. We address too many issues to mention as we just natter and chat while we make art. Also in association with the young people’s service for professional advice, resources and information.

Planning for WOW festival in Wigan. New commission which I’m looking forward to. The event organisers have asked me to go in for 2 weeks prior to the festival, to funk up the site. We’re talking loads of colour, carnival features, banners, flags, an enormous community bunting project…should be good!

Bring your Dad to school day- looking forward to this workshop, on Friday, where I will be making rockets and working volcanoes with vinegar and bicarb of soda. Might take along a bottle of coke and some mentos for a laugh!

And then the big one- GLASTONBURY! I have been busy planning and prepping for this year’s madness. We are making a GLASTONTREE in the Kidz field this year, which will grow and become more and more colourful and shiny as the festival progresses. Setting off Friday to the woods to finish prepping then will be on site from Sunday getting everything set up and spending some time chilling in the sun, making pretty things and gearing up for a hell of a lot of fun. Hopefully some fantastics photos to follow soon.

In between all of this, I have also managed to get painting again. It has been far too long. Here is the first of a series of 4 that I have started. Still a work in progress, but am pleased with it so far.

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Shadow Puppetry at Preston Mela Festival

Ok- so the Mela has finally been and gone. 24 hours of workshops with 3 groups of fantastic kids culminating in 3 incredible shadow puppet productions written, created, produced and performed at the festival of Asian culture on Avenham Park last weekend.

Despite major technical problems on the stage, all 3 productions were great and I was very proud of the kids. I was also running shadow puppet workshops in the big tent and co ordinating music, drumming, stilt walking and more. Everything went really well, with loads of positive feedback.

“The shadow puppets were one of my favourite bits of the day- nice one dude!”

“The kids had an amazing time- thankyou.”

“The shows were amazing. I loved it!”

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite. More to come, along with a video of some of the work and an assembly at Whitechapel school to celebrate the kids’ achievements. Watch this space.

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Yes- surprise surprise- I’ve been back in the woods!

I can’t get enough of being outside at the moment. I am finding it very inspiring to leave the modern world behind and just be with nature and create and photograph. There’s a whole load of paintings to be born very soon!

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Back in the woods

Well here I am, back in the woods. Aldrin the buzzard has already stopped by to say hello and this evening a red kite was engaging in a sky battle with a crow.
Inspiration for the day, however, has come from a trip to the Ferrari garage. Nice shapes and sooooo shiny! Sadly they didn’t deem me worthy of a test drive. Maybe because I stank of woodsmoke from last night’s fire!
I now sit by the fire, fairy lights in the trees and contemplate artspace 2010 tomorrow. Not sure what to expect. Saw a sign for it so thought it had better be checked out.

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Living wild in the woods.

Have  been spending a fair bit of time living wild in the woods of late. Have a friend who is lucky enough to own 10 acres of the most beautiful woodland, just across the river from Henley on Thames. It is so inspiring to be there. No running water or modern conveniences, just back to nature and sleeping under the stars! A slower pace of life that has got me thinking about all sorts of new business opportunities. Here are some photos from my last visit. Enjoy. )

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Silhouette and painting workshops with Longshaw Community Junior School, Blackburn

For the last couple of Fridays, I have been working with the delightful year 4 children and staff at Longshaw Community Junior School in Blackburn. We did some sketching in the school garden and then used the shapes that we had drawn to produce some beautiful canvases. Each child produced their own masterpiece, and each of the two classes also produced a bigger canvas to be hung in the school. Here you go kids- as promised, I have uploaded some of your work. Glad you enjoyed it- I know that I did!

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A glimpse into my studio

Have managed to snatch 6 precious hours in my wonderful studio today. I am so so lucky. The sun was shining, Peanut (the dog) was pottering around and the starlings were bickering on the bird table in the garden. My tunes were blaring and I managed to get loads of stuff done. A head full of new ideas and hopefully more studio time in the not too distant future. Watch this space. . . . . .

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