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.
Unsettled outside today, but inside Unit 31, such a buzz of creative activity!
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!
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.
They spent time looking again at the map….
…..before the weather itself drew us outside. What a sky! Enormous. Tumultous. Glorious!
And the sky, never before so beautiful, seeps into our hearts to hold them like dreams….
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.
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.
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!
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.
Lakeland Arts is proud of our work with community groups, particularly older people who might not ordinarily visit cultural spaces, including enabling access for people in residential care homes such as the Leonard Cheshire Home at Holehird. A recent project, Powerful Objects, used The Great Picture and Lady Anne Clifford as inspiration for creating a Great Picture of our own lives using iPad technology. Wonderful stories are emerging!
Projects such as this are helping Lakeland Arts to play our part in improving “wellbeing”, which is a measure of physical, social, emotional and mental health. ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ have been identified by the Government – these are a series of “living well indicators” that, if present, will support wellbeing. The five indicators are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
Health and social care organisations, Council services, cultural and creative organisations such as Lakeland Arts and other charities such as Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, are using these indicators as a tool kit to help older people to stay healthy and to live more independently for longer.
We are embracing the wellbeing initiative by training all our staff to be Dementia Friends and promoting the Five Ways to Wellbeing in order to help people to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. Donna Storey, Service Development Manager, Adult Social Care, Cumbria County Council, says that creative and cultural organisations have a crucial part to play:
“Support for people living with dementia and their carers is a priority for the Health and Wellbeing strategy for Cumbria as the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase across the county. The work that Lakeland Arts is undertaking provides a significant local contribution to the creation of a dementia friendly society in Cumbria.”