In the Moment ‘on the Lake’

In the Moment summer projects get better and better! This year, an August day out on Windermere, inspired by the lovely old boat ‘Branksome’ being restored ahead of the new Windermere Jetty opening in 2017.

‘In the Moment’ is part of Lakeland Arts’ Enriched by Moments programme of creative activity for people living with dementia and their carers. The group meets weekly in Kendal, drawing inspiration from Lakeland Arts sites, collections, exhibitions and displays, as well as local festivals and events. The sessions are a joyful blend of art and poetry, and have been described as ‘respite without separation’ – pleasurable and stimulating for everyone involved, and proven to support people to live well with dementia. Somehow, the process of immersion in experiences, the flow that happens during creative engagement has a transformative and beneficial effect that seems to extend beyond the sessions, for everyone involved.

In the lead up to the summer project, costumes from the Handling Collection and a photograph of Edna Haworth who lived at Langdale Chase and commissioned the building of ‘Branksome’ in 1896 were our starting points. Together, they provided ideas for us to create a really special day out and bring ‘Branksome’ to life in a completely new way. We shaped the day to include a visit to the Jetty conservation shed, experience an hour on the lake, disembark at Langdale Chase where we would see the boathouse built specially for ‘Branksome’ and then have afternoon tea close to the terrace overlooking the lake where Edna is standing for her photograph.

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It has been wonderful subject matter to be immersed in, enabling a relaxed and playful connection with the late Victorian era. The group created their own accessories, including appliqued capes, cuffs, choker necklaces, boater hats and false moustaches!

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Everyone enjoyed role playing their way into their costumes!

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The group also spent time thinking about the boat, making drawings and maps and two members of the group partipated in stitching the outline of Branksome onto white fabric.

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The visit to look at Branksome being restored was illuminating. Stephen, the Senior Boat Conservator, explained the process of finding just the right shaped piece of oak, known as grown crook of oak, to replace the original stem. This way of growing oak gives the wood the curvature in the grain which will follow the line of the stem. A brand new figurehead, inspired by some of the intricate carvings at Langdale Chase, illustrated how the boat is being restored to its former glory. Stephen also told us that an oak tree felled to make room for the development of the new museum is being used to create the steam bent timbers lining the interior of the boat.

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We left the Jetty Conservation Shed, amazed by the craftmanship and care that the conservation team are employing, and made our way to Waterhead for our picnic as we waited for our boat to arrive. We made a happy gathering, wearing our hats which were very welcome in the bright sunshine.

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We boarded The Princess of the Lake, our very own wooden launch for an hour! It was glorious to be on the lake, everyone so thrilled, the beautiful weather, landscape, sense of friendship and shared experience.

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As the boat pulled into the Langdale Chase jetty, we got our first view of the boathouse which was the original home of ‘Branksome’ and Bernice and John waiting to welcome us.

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Safely off the boat, we unfolded the stitched drawing of the boat and floated it into the water by the boathouse – a symbolic returning of ‘Branksome’ to it’s original home.


Up on Edna’s terrace at what is now the Langdale Chase Hotel, we held up ‘Branksome’ to dry, creating another connection between the boat, the lake, its original owner and original home.


The afternoon ended with afternoon tea and poetry readings. We’ve had two more ‘In the Moments’ since our wonderful day out and each time we’ve projected images of the day directly onto the studio wall which has had the effect of bringing that moment on the lake directly into the room again. Members of the group have created personal dioramas that create a visual sense of their moments on the lake, as well as prints and a large inked landscape of the lake.

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Get involved: our next big project with ‘In the Moment’ is the Creative Age Challenge in late October during the weekend of the Kendal Wool Gathering when knitters and crafters are Yarn Bombing the museum. We are working in schools and with community groups in Kendal to create a Hand Made Herd – a flock of small scale sheep that will fill the oval in the front of Abbot Hall Art Gallery. During the weekend of the gathering, sheep will be on display and then auctioned at 3pm on Sunday 30 October to raise funds to support the Enriched by Moments programme. Invite us to run a sheep making workshop in your workplace, school, community centre. Come to MOLLI’s Woolly Workshops during half term. Volunteer!

For more information about the Enriched by Moments programme check out the website at







New Expressions: Kendal Skies

We’ve had a bonus week of sky exploring, making cloudy labels, finding accidental clouds and drawing golden eagles in flight. Geoff drew his eagle in great confidence with oil pastel and then layered it over his painted cliffside. Kenneth used chalk pastels to create an atmposheric sky.


During preparations for the workshop, a little bunch of pristine white labels had been dropped into a tray of ink! A happy accident! This was the inspiration for utilisng the paper that we had used to protect the floor from paint when we were painting the parasol. This was covered in drips and puddles of lovely paint and created a feeling of clouds! And so the group cut out ‘accidental’ clouds, printed weather inspired words on inky labels and continued to use paint to capture the swirling feeling of cloudy skies.


Pat created the word ‘smog’ remembering her early life in London and Joyce selected areas of dripped paint to create an accidental cloud. Annette scumbled and blended sky and cloud with paint. John drew an image of the sky with language written into the swirling shapes.


John loves the cloud book, and this led us outside to look at the skies. And back inside, the words to Somewhere Over the Rainbow filled the rooms and Annette and Pat painted rainbows.


New Expressions Week 3 in Kendal

Unsettled outside today, but inside Unit 31, such a buzz of creative activity!

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Pat was very taken with the parasol sky and although she finds it very difficult to hold paintbrushes at the moment, she thoroughly enjoyed getting as close as possible and reaching out to feel the fabric. We covered her in plastic sheeting as the sky painters were very expressive with their paintwork today!


Meanwhile, the printing, collaging and stitching into cloud sections continued. Mary had found some songs inspired by the weather, so the afternoon was punctuated by joyful bursts of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, I’m Singin’ in the Rain, and Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

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Harriet and Ruth were folding lengths of dyed fabric to be used to carry lines of poetry into the canopy. A new word – cloud-folding! And a lovely connection with the first poem to be created by the group this summer – it’s title – ‘Unfolding a Sky Map.

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They spent time looking again at the map….


…..before the weather itself drew us outside. What a sky! Enormous. Tumultous. Glorious!

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And the sky, never before so beautiful, seeps into our hearts to hold them like dreams….

New Expressions: Developing Sky

Harriet kicked off today with a beautiful poem inspired by John’s reading last week from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, describing a memorable journey in the rain. We also sang Happy Birthday to Martin, welcomed Peter and Rosa, ate flapjack and explored the map! Geoff and Joan particularly enjoyed looking closely at moments within the map from recent weeks.

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Geoff found a moment from last week at Grasmere, his first glimpse of Uta’s blue sky in the rain.


Harriet read an extract from AE Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad – ‘From far, from eve and morning / And yon twelve-winded sky, the stuff of life to knit me / Blew hither: here am I’. And this led into working on the inner panels for the parasol……


The studio was full of beautiful shades of blue, and we very quickly got busy mixing colour inspired by the range of cloudscapes collages. Painted and printed pieces will be layered together and stitched into the inside of the parasol.

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And throughout the afternoon, the parasol itself began to be transformed into the sky….


We ended the afternoon with a display of cloud paintings and prints and a discussion about the day. John had worked expressively in paint and with words – ‘in clouds of joy’. Mandy described feeling like a real artist, forgetting herself and just working really intuitively. Jack had struggled through a question about how to do it and resolved it! Geoff had brought photographs of him climbing in the French Alps and painted a mountain side reaching into the clouds. We talked about high walks and low walks and being out ‘whatever the weather’. Martin said he has always loving walking and described in detail a walk to Keswick many years ago. Annette communicated immense pleasure, and not just the pleasure of the moment of creative activity, but throughout the rest of the week she finds herself noticing more – looking up at the sky, looking at colours in nature. Pat was happy to be there, enjoying the buzz of conversation and activity. Nita worked on the parasol with great energy, at one point holding a paintbrush between her teeth as she used another to work paint into the cloth, maintaining a commentary throughout! Pat watched her with evident enjoyment.

At the end of the afternoon, Harriet crawled under the parasol and opened it up and we could see more of the sky that was growing – and have a look at the inside….lovely to see stains of painting flowing through. The parasol will find its way to Penrith on Tuesday for further transformation!

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Harriet listened as we talked and created a poem from fragments of the conversation. Lovely to have creative activity and engagement reflected back to the group so beautifully. A wonderful afternoon.

New Expressions Weather Report: Preparing for Friday


We’ve been busy getting ready for the first practical session on Friday. The map now has a cover made with many of the sky photographs the group have taken over recent weeks….but take a look inside…..


Sections of the map have been opened up and the places we have visited can be untied and unfolded to create a visual narrative that describes moments from the project so far.

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Images concertina out to overlap and connect. We took some photographs in the gallery on our first day and so several images of the eggs can be unfolded from Hawsewater, and these intertwine with images from Kendal, Orton Scar and Grasmere. Similar threads of imagery will unfold from Penrith and Carlise when activity begins there and a lovely feeling of creative connection across Cumbria will feel tangible! The map will provide an important moment at the beginning of every session. Maps are full of resonance and symbolic meaning, inviting exploration and recognition. Our map will help return us to previous experiences and locate us all in a moment of new activity.


Cloud collages have also been created which will form an important stimulus for creative activity.

And the square of fabric that covers the crown of the parasol has been used as a sample to look at how it takes paint and printing ink. Really looking forward to In the Moment on Friday!


Building New landscapes

The artist and designer Rachel Kelly led the session, beginning downstairs in Abbot Hall’s period rooms where the decorative cornicing on the plush red and sage green walls frame traditional oil paintings. She drew out a discussion about how the rooms have been designed to display these paintings, creating very particular spaces.


We moved through these “roomscapes” towards the watercolour gallery where we thought about perspective in dramatic landscapes by Turner and Ruskin and in townscapes full of people on market day. We thought about how these paintings were great descriptions of the world.

We went upstairs to Taking Flight and to very different paintings! The group began to think about how paintings can represent ideas, feelings and a sense of place and we chose our favourite works to describe. Some great words! The paintings were “fast”, “exciting”, “hypnotising” and “elemental”.  And from these descriptions we began to work in card, making 3D artist’s tools for drawing with. We tore and cut fluid shapes and made patterns inspired by the paintings to a jazz soundtrack, filling the gallery with rhythm and a fluid improvisational atmosphere.


These artist’s tools helped us to make impressions in soft pastels adding colour to the shapes we had created in the gallery.


Initial studies provided inspiration for everyone’s individual 3D landscapes. Lorna made a landscape space that she could inhabit! Alice created sculptural sea waves. Jem created a large boat in which to sail the St Ives seas. Iona made a music themed collage and a beach house with a firey roof. Nico made a landscape in which the four elements ran into one another – water quenching fire making smoke rise through the air into the leaves of a tree growing from the earth.


Individual landscapes made each painting come to life in 3D form. Imaginations took flight! Exciting objects and shapes that could exist within the abstract paintings. A very busy creative day!

New Expressions: Weather Report Day TWO


Grey skies and shiny wet pathways and puddles in Grasmere today!


We began with tea and Harriet’s banana cake, looking at the map and the lovely photographs we had taken of the amazing cloud scapes of last Friday on Orton Scar. Harriet read the poem created by everyone’s responses – utterly beautiful. The group were spell bound. Then out through the rain and across to meet Jeff with a quick glimpse at Uta’s blue sky – strange and incongruous on a day like today!


Jeff had lots to share with the group. Dorothy’s journals and letters regularly make reference to the weather. Mary was surprised that Jeff wasn’t wearing special gloves and he explained that special gloves can damage fragile and aged paper much more easily than clean hands and carfeul handling! Dorothy’s journals are stored in tiny made to measure boxes.


John read out a passage about a particularly wet day with real drama and expression, much to everyone’s delight. Jeff read out the journal entry which describes the moment on one of the Wordsworth’s walks which inspired the Daffodils poem. We all tried to remember it, and did really well, some of us remembering they were golden daffodils, others remembering that they were dancing daffodils – we were all correct as Wordsworth altered it several times!

Geoff unveiled the most recent aquisition to Wordsworth Trust’s collection, a painting by Matthias Read of Ouse Bridge, painted in 1720 and said to be the first image ever painted of the Lake District.

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Joan remembered a beautiful fragment of poetry by Wordsworth – she spoke the words aloud… ” and the sky never before so beautiful, sank down into my heart and held me like a dream.” Jeff managed to find the poem online. The lines are from Prelude and Jeff was able to show us the handwritten manuscript of the poem, although we couldn’t find the lines that Joan remembered.


We finished our session with Jeff with the opening lines to Resolution and Independence – ‘There was a roaring in the wind all night; the rain came heavily and fell in floods…’ words that seemed to describe the weather today perfectly! It felt very special to be in a room so filled with words and stories that celebrate the life of Wordsworth and protect an incredible legacy of writing. Beautiful language seemed to fill the air, a feeling of being very close to the landscape, aware of weather and its dramatic and poetic impact.


Back outside in the rain, we had a quick look at Uta’s blue sky before heading back to the car park sheltering under big umbrella’s!

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