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.

 

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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

Lakeland Arts 2016 and beyond…

Busy times are ahead for Lakeland Arts in Cumbria, one of the leading Arts and Heritage Organisations in the North West. Originally Founded in 1957, it has since developed a hugely successful artistic programme, which repeatedly brings the best contemporary and historical artists to the area. On an annual basis, thousands of visitors come to indulge themselves in visual feasts of consistently high quality exhibitions, held at inspiring settings throughout the Lake District and just outside. Yet this is only part of the story. For over the next few years, there are plans to raise the stakes even higher, with an ambitious strategy to significantly grow a diverse selection of attractions. Notwithstanding the realisation of an ambitious new Windermere Jetty project or the completion of new period rooms at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House in Bowness.

Since opening Abbot Hall Art Gallery in 1962, the former Georgian town house has gained a national and international reputation for the excellence of its collections and programming. A wide-ranging collection boasts something for everyone, from iconic works such as the huge 16th Century triptych portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, to Cumbrian born George Romney’s finest society portraits from the 18th Century. Hung in elegant period rooms these magnificent works rub shoulders with a fine set of 18th & 19th Century watercolours from the likes of J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Edward Lear. Highlights of a strong modern and contemporary collection include paintings by the St. Ives School, Graham Sutherland, L. S. Lowry and Ivon Hitchens, with three-dimensional pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp. You can also find an important selection of works by German refugee Kurt Schwitters, who spent the last few years of his life in the Lake District, after fleeing to England in 1940. From its early days, Abbot Hall has regularly brought some of the most celebrated names in the art world to Cumbria, from: Bridget Riley, Lucien Freud and Patrick Caulfield to name only a few. The current highly acclaimed exhibition ‘Canaletto: Celebrating Britain’ is on the last leg of a hugely successful tour, which has already taken in the Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire and Holburne Museum in Bath. It offers a Northwest audience the unique chance to see a large grouping of drawings and paintings by the illustrious 18th century Italian artist. The works have been brought together from major collections including: the Royal Collection, British Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery, along with a number of private lenders.

Lakeland Arts have also developed an extensive learning and activities programme of events, lectures, workshops, films and concerts across all of their sites. Giving invaluable access to their collections for families, schools, colleges and community groups. All galleries are free for children up to the age of sixteen, and young people receive further support with a variety of cross-curricula opportunities, predominantly in Art and Design and History. Engaging the local community is also another top priority. A series of projects aimed at meeting the needs and interests of individual groups include a programme entitled, Enriched by Moments, which delivers activities and events designed to engage people living with dementia along with their carers. These informal sessions often stimulate lively discussion, generating creative ideas and enhancing feelings of well-being. They have also established partnerships with organisations such as: Young Cumbria, the Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust, Riverview Day Centre in Kendal and residents and staff at the Leonard Cheshire Home at Holehird, Windermere.

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From March this year, Abbot Hall will become one of only three host venues selected to display a Masterpiece from the National Gallery Collection. Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 63 will arrive during a UK tour from January to July 2016. This late contemplative self-portrait by one of the world’s most revered artists represents another major coup for the gallery. Helen Watson, Director of Exhibitions and Collections is obviously thrilled, “We are excited about bringing one of the greatest works of art in the UK to Kendal. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to spend time with this magnificent painting, study it in detail and learn about Rembrandt and his self-portraits.” Keeping a close eye on the Dutch master will be Lady Anne Clifford’s barn door-sized triptych from the same period, which is to be shown in an adjacent gallery. Looking forward to the pair meeting one another, Anne-Marie Quinn, Learning and Engagement Officer at Abbot Hall reveals, “We have designed a programme of talks and activities to encourage all our visitors to spend time with Rembrandt and Lady Anne. They are remarkable characters in their own right and both have used portraiture in very different ways to describe moments throughout their lives. Lady Anne’s portraits create a narrative about her status and power, while Rembrandt’s self-portrait is the intense almost spiritual scrutiny of an older man, reflecting on his image, and perhaps his whole life.

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Housed nearby in the old coach house and stable block at Abbot Hall, The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry displays a significant and widespread collection relating to the social and industrial history of the Lake District and Kendal. This year visitors will be treated to a new layout with more interactive displays. Exhibits not to miss include the original sketches, drawings, photographs, mementoes and a pair of slippers once belonging to Arthur Ransome, author of the enduring children’s classic, Swallows and Amazons. Whilst there are further opportunities to step back in time with the Victorian photographs of the Lake District by Joseph Hardman, or by tracing the local development of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

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When architect MH Baillie Scott completed Blackwell in 1901, he built a beautiful holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client, Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy industrialist. Exactly one hundred years later, Lakeland Arts opened the house to the public in 2001, after stepping in to save it from an uncertain future. Initially securing a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a restoration project, this masterpiece of twentieth-century design now continues to present a rare opportunity for visitors to experience a breath-taking example of the Arts & Crafts Movement today. At the moment, plans to bring the Blackwell Project: An Arts and Crafts Story are close to fruition. This two-year project will eventually introduce new Arts and Crafts furnishings, objects and textiles to further enhance the period rooms, whilst telling the stories of some of the people who lived and worked at Blackwell.

Unquestionably, one of the most exciting future additions for the Lakeland Arts portfolio is the realisation of the new Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories. Which replaces the former Windermere Steamboat Museum that opened in 1977. Thanks again to significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, an eighteen month build and fit-out programme started in a special Ground-breaking ceremony on November 20th 2015. Once opened, the new Museum will add a further dimension to Cumbria’s rich heritage and cultural offer. Windermere’s lakeshore history will come alive as it is combined with displays of steam launches, motorboats, yachts and other vessels. A new learning centre is a key feature of the design, whilst a new café will provide stunning views over the length of Windermere. Martin Ainscough, Chairman of Lakeland Arts is clearly delighted; “This is a major step towards opening the Museum to the public so that everyone can enjoy seeing the historic boats on display in the exhibition galleries and on the lake”. Local MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale (and leader of the Liberal Democrats) Tim Farron, also welcomes the latest addition to the shoreline, stating; “I cannot wait for the new building to open so I can have a look at Lakeland Arts’ fantastic collection of historic boats. I am grateful for the support the Heritage Lottery Fund continues to give to Cumbria”.

With the completion of the Windermere Jetty project expected in 2017, Lakeland Arts will grow significantly and boast one of the most far-reaching and diverse set of attractions. Incorporating a wide variety of collections with the potential to rival anywhere else in the UK. For nearly sixty years, they have cultivated an enviable reputation for exhibiting art of the highest quality. This has been achieved alongside the creation of inspiring spaces for the understanding and enjoyment of artists, the collections and buildings. Whilst the exhibition programme continues to celebrate artistic endeavour and imagination, it also engages and challenges audiences to fully experience all forms of art.

David Banning
Visitor Experience Coordinator, Lakeland Arts

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.

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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 rsvp@blackwell.org.uk if you would like to attend the opening at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House on 14 July 2015 from 2:30 – 4:30.

 

Tom on – Peer networking day at Toynbee Hall, London.

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Another really brilliant day meeting up with all the other participants. Now i know it would be emerging maker, Crafts Council suicide to say otherwise, but truly, i had such a good time..

A really hectic and yet enjoyable day. I went with the clear intention of properly meeting and introducing myself personally to all the other participants on the program. This turned out to be a little bit like speed dating, or “Speed Hothouse Maker Meeting” as I think I will call it.(Perhaps they should introduce this into next years program). However I still didn’t get round everyone, must finish it off next time.

The only slightly negative part of the day for me was that usually when I am in a beautiful historic building similar to that of Toynbee Hall for any particular event or reason, I can always seem to find the time to drift off and study the architecture and interior woodwork to consider its history, the techniques involved in its construction, inappropriate restorations and alterations etc.(What an exciting life I lead). But today there simply wasn’t time and rightly so. I’ll just have to go back one day.

In the morning session, Sarah Hewett, community programs manager from Etsy, gave us a great talk on topics including, selling our work online, images, pr and press. This was all really useful even for those among us who had never considered selling our work through an on-line platform.
I will have to read through the notes on this as unfortunately I had to leave for my slot of PHOTO-TAS-TIC TIME, with photographer Tas Kyprianou, “What a Dude”. He was such a hilarious and genuinely nice man, put me totally at ease.
Having never had a professional photo-shoot of myself with my work before I was expecting feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment and for the whole thing to ooze cheesiness with forced smiles and cringe-worthy Marks & Spencers poses. It was in fact the total opposite, so much so that by the end of the session I had even started directing him as to the weird shots I wanted taking. (They won’t use those ones). I even managed to convince him to photo-shop out the dodgy logo on the shirt I had borrowed that morning. (Didn’t really do shirts before Hothouse. Getting into them now, but not with dodgy logos)
So thanks Tas, It was incredible to be in such proficient hands.

In the afternoon session Anna Collette Hunt, participant on Hothouse 3, talked about her experience on the Mentoring and Buddying schemes. I personally found this extremely useful in terms of my own work and how I want the schemes to assist me with the intended direction I am currently concentrating on for my future practice.

Then it was !!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH !!!!!   ” Talking About The Work ”

We all had to stand up and talk about the work brought along by a fellow participant. I have found these exercises excruciatingly uncomfortable, but now through the pain and nervous embarrassment I have come to the realization that its all cool and fine, and that non of it really matters. I know that I am not a good public speaker, but why would I be, I have never done it before, and thus I am not practiced. The first time I ever made a piece of furniture I am sure it was pretty crap really, and this is no different.  So I have decided to be as open and honest in my professional practice as I am in my actual making. And just do it. Don’t over-think it and don’t worry about it. Then surely I will slowly improve through practice.

However it was truly great to see all the work everyone had brought in and to hear all the presentations. So well done everyone. And also, on top of everything we learned from the exercise, we also had the added benefit of COLLECTIVELY CAUSING LAUGHTER INDUCED FACILITATOR FACE ACHE!
(This, for those not there, is a good thing)

Then it was quickly outside for more “Photo-Tas-tic time”, for the Hothouse 5 official group photo. I cant wait to see the results when they come through…
So thanks to everyone involved in providing such a valuable experience, I had such a laugh, but also learned loads too.

Oh.. and I also forgot to mention lunch. (A seemingly popular part for discussion on the Hothouse experience so far).  Well to be honest I cant remember.  I was too busy shoving salad leaves into my mouth (attractive) as I walked around trying to do “Speed Hothouse Maker Meeting”. But I’m sure it was probably lovely….

Tom Philipson, on breathing, thinking and telling lies…

Another great session on the Hothouse program. Today’s session was held at the Craft and Design Centre in Manchester’s northern quarter. A Victorian fish market lovingly converted into studios with a great cafe, and an exhibition space which will be showcasing all the North cohorts work in September.

The morning session was spent with Mark Sinker, freelance sub-editor, Crafts magazine. Mark spoke to us about writing Artists statements, and kindly went through all our statements with us personally . This was incredibly useful, especially for the literacy challenged like myself!

The afternoon was a bit more scary…  but only to start with…
Dan Goode, talent spotter and actor, had us, standing up, sitting down, talking about ourselves, talking about our peers, taking our shoes off, lying down, breathing, thinking, telling lies and by the end laughing our heads off.
A great session about conquering and understanding the fears of public speaking.

So thanks again Crafts Council.
It’s off to London next to meet up with all the other cohorts on the program and have our photos taken.

Tom Philipson

More from Tom… ‘Designing your future’

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Days 2 and 3 were held at Marketplace Studios, part of Manchester School of Art in Stockport’s old town, a surprisingly beautiful little enclave nestled within the urban sprawl.

Day one was all about ‘Designing your future, Putting ideas into action’, and ‘The business of you’. We were treated to some excellent talks from established makers, Claire Norcross (lighting), and Amy Hughes (Ceramics). This was so useful, it was great to hear about their journeys that got them to where they are now.
I took away many useful tools and ideas that I will hopefully incorporate into my own practice, but mainly I learnt the value of looking further than the end of my nose.. “or further than the end of my chisels.” Which I tend not to do.

Day Two was Business Modelling, (a day jam packed full of information.) We kicked off with each of us giving a short presentation about an established maker and why their craft business inspired us. I talked about the engraver and silversmith Malcolm Appleby. Again I was totally out of my comfort zone with the public speaking, but learnt some very useful tools for dealing with the nerves and all that, and I physically shook allot less than last time, so I think I could be improving!

We then had sessions with Katy Drake on financial tools and responsibilities and Pete Mosley on business modelling. Thinking about tax, finance and things like business models is something that I have spent the majority of my life avoiding like the plague. I have always imagined that they were things that actually got in the way of experimentation and the ability to create things freely without constraint for a maker. Things that would force me out of my workshop and take up too much of my time.  But just through these sessions I have started to realize that all those scary words I have been avoiding and ignoring are in reality just other words for ” Getting What I Want”. and that through a better understanding of these issues I will have more time and resources to be able to be even more experimental and practiced in my work.
But i think I might still have to employ the services of an accountant though, ” Any bracket fungus loving accountants into swapsies out there.”

So once again, Thanks to The Crafts Council for a enlightening and productive couple of days.

Next stop  ” Presenting Yourself ” at Manchester Craft and Design Center.
(Might even buy a new shirt – from a charity shop of course – No point getting ahead of myself yet.)