There’s an app for that! Kaleidoscopic pictures of Blackwell


We’re using a free app, KaleidaCam, to play with pattern and symmetry at Blackwell. You can download the app before visiting Blackwell or sign out an ipad at the front desk to create your own kaleidoscopic patterns. The activity is inspired by Di Mainstone’s Time Mirror, a movable sculpture that captures many-mirrored views of the house and landscape. The Time Mirror will be at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House from 18 May to September 2018 as part of Lakes Ignite 2018.



The KaleidaCam app has a live camera feature that turns your phone into a kaleidoscope and transforms everyday items into beautiful and complex patterns. Blackwell is full of decorative details that come to life when you look at them through this lens. We hope that visitors will explore Blackwell from floor to ceiling as they hunt for patterns in the stained-glass windows, hand painted tiles, peacock frieze and hand carved woodwork.

This app can also be used in the gardens to create patterns from nature. Blackwell’s architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott brought people closer to nature through organic designs. His tombstone reads ‘Nature I loved, and next to nature art’.

More about the KaleidaCam app:

  • The live camera feature alters what you see on your screen as you are taking a picture. You can also alter images you have already taken.
  • The app has four different kaleidoscopic designs you can choose from.
  • You can touch the screen to zoom in, rotate the angle or increase the lines of symmetry.


Download the free app here

Share your images of Blackwell with us on Instagram @BlackwellArtsAndCrafts, Twitter @LakelandArts and Facebook @BlackwellArtsAndCrafts


A Summer of Rag Rugging

***UPDATE: The rugging will continue this October 22 & 24-27. Come to the museum during half term to take part in finishing this great textile project. Full details here.*** 

We’re creating giant rag rugs inspired by the rugged Cumbrian landscape! Sally Fallows is running drop-in workshops across Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House all summer long. The finished rag rugs and wall hanging will animate the learning centre at Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories when it opens in 2017. Over 250 people have contributed so far – and there’s plenty left to do! So drop in and try your hand at traditional textile techniques with a contemporary twist.


Morning workshops at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 10:30 – 12:30 

Included with admission – children FREE 

Create an aerial view of Windermere in wool using a mix of hooking, prodding, crochet and pom-poms! Inspired by Winifred Nicholson’s views of Cumbria, on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery until 15 October 2016. Nicholson designed over 180 rag rugs and commissioned local artists to make them. We also drew inspiration from Alexandra Kehayoglou‘s spectacular wool rug artworks.


Afternoon workshops at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 2:00 – 4:00
Included with admission – children FREE 

Help make a gigantic wall hanging inspired by the view from Blackwell – complete with fleecy sheep and boats sailing on Windermere. Enjoy an afternoon of crafting in an idyllic setting. Materials are locally sourced from William’s Wools and Faye’s Sewing Box – including local alpaca yarn from Town End Yarns.


Half Term Tree Houses @ Blackwell

We spent half term building tree houses at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House. Our willow structures were inspired by this tree house Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott decorated for the Crown Princess Marie of Romania in 1897 – just a year before he started working on Blackwell!

Baillie Scott filled Blackwell with nature and whimsical details, making it the perfect holiday home for the Holt family and their five children. The minstrel gallery – with birds and trees carved into the woodwork – looks like an indoor tree house!

We started building tree houses by ‘planting’ willow rods into a polystyrene base. Then we used pipe cleaners, wire, and tape to bend and shape the flexible green willow into any structure we could think of! We decorated our tree houses with paper flowers – inspired by Baillie Scott’s description of the plants he hid throughout Blackwell. The resulting tree houses were impressive – the tallest reaching almost 5 feet! If you snapped a picture of your tree house, tweet @lakelandarts #Blackwell or post it on our facebook page.

A big thank you to everyone who joined in and helped out with this activity! We’re already looking forward to Blackwell’s Easter Egg Hunt, Family Dance Night, and Story Telling Week. Sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop!

– Shannon
Learning & Engagement Officer

The Making of The Yellow Wallpaper

We started The Yellow Wallpaper project with Emilie Taylor and Space2Create in March and are almost ready to unveil their finished work! This ceramic installation, inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic text of the same name, was made at Blackwell and will be displayed in the yellow bedroom until 6 September 2015. Please join us on 14 July 2015 to celebrate the project, view the work and meet the women who made it.

yellow wallpaper invite


When we left off last time, the group had just finished rolling out tiles. These were left to dry while we discussed Gilman’s work and developed motifs inspired by her story. We used collage to merge our motifs with a wallpaper pattern that runs through each tile and then traced our designs directly onto the tiles. Next, we filled our designs in with yellow liquid clay – or slip.

The final step was adding a bit of detail. We used pencils, pens, and needles to scratch through the slip and reveal dark brown clay beneath – a process called sgraffito. And here they are, ready to be fired!

The colours will change after they come out of the kiln and we can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Please RSVP to Jasmine O’Flaherty at 015394 46139 or if you would like to attend the opening at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House on 14 July 2015 from 2:30 – 4:30.


The Yellow Wallpaper Project

This spring, Emilie Taylor is working on-site with Space2Create to make ceramic tiles inspired by the themes and imagery in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Their work will be displayed in Blackwell’s yellow bedroom from 17 July – 6 September, 2015.

Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper in 1892 after suffering from a nervous breakdown and being prescribed the ‘rest cure.’ Her short story presented a chilling critique of this method of treatment, which barred patients from doing anything creative or intellectual. After writing The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman “sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged it.” (source: Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper)

The group will be exploring how The Yellow Wallpaper relates to their personal experiences as well as contemporary views surrounding the treatment of mental-illness. They started by visiting Emilie Taylor’s recent exhibition at Blackwell, where they learned about her practice, and found out how she transfers her designs onto pottery. In the past two weeks, they’ve been working with Emilie to develop their own images, which they will transfer onto tiles they’ve rolled out themselves. Stay tuned to see how their work progresses!

Stitching in the Sun with Manna House

The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry has some lovely needlework in its collection. This Wednesday, we ran an embroidery workshop at Manna House as part of their Skills Cafe. There were a few needleworkers in the group, but for many it was their first stab at creative stitching. Learning as they went, the group built up a colourful combination of stitches. Everyone went away with a framed piece of embroidery and we all enjoyed spending the day taking it one stitch at a time. We’re looking forward to creating more crafts inspired by MOLLI’s collection. Get in touch with Shannon Quigley if you’re interested in bringing a creative workshop to your local community group!


Last week, we met with learning teams across the North to see what they were up to. First stop was Tullie House, where ‘ARTIST ROOMS Anselm Kiefer’ is on display until June 7, 2015. The exhibition, which explores identity in post-war Germany, has been popular with school groups. We chatted with their Learning Officer and met an artist who runs student-workshops inspired by Keifer’s work.

Next up was Newcastle, where we met with Sue Coles and Equal Arts at the Baltic. Sue is a whirlwind of ideas and inspiration for arts education in the North East, and now across the country. So we picked her brains before discussing ‘My Creative Challenge’ with Douglas and Alice of EA. Exciting times and partnerships ahead for Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell.

Newcastle is also the home of Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books. We spent an entire afternoon touring their exhibitions and learning about their programmes and research projects. The exhibits, which feature original book illustrations from their archive, are designed for young families and enjoyed by all. We missed story time, but did a bit of light reading in their bookshop.

At Beamish The Living Museum of the North, we were transported back in time and got a behind-the-scenes tour of their mammoth collections storage area. Their immersive school programmes teach children about history by putting them to work in the gardens and the mines. Programmes for older students tackle tough issues like teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. Their most popular workshop is a Victorian lesson in an old classroom – which they offer in both French and English.

We came away with lots of ideas for future programs and exhibitions!

A big thank you to all our hosts!

Follow them all on Twitter:
@lakelandarts @TullieHouse @theartcriminal @equal_arts @7Stories @Beamish_Museum