We are thrilled to have been awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to support a long-term partnership with Age UK's Charnwood Men & Women in Sheds initiative.
From November 2021 onwards, we will be working with members from 'the sheds' to share a variety of practical and creative skills through a series of fortnightly workshops for a period of 6 months. Charnwood Arts will bring on board experienced artists, creative practitioners, writers and landscape experts to work with the group. Shed members will in turn lead sessions to share their skills in craft and woodwork. This skills exchange provides an opportunity for everyone involved to learn something new, socialise and have new experiences. As part of Charnwood Arts' work with the Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme, there will also be visits to Charnwood Forest sites to take part in outdoor activities.
Session 1: Willow Weaving with Nita Rao
Our introductory session welcomed one of our Associate Artists, Nita Rao, to the Charnwood Sheds, where she led a willow weaving workshop with 10 members. We were delighted to see each person give their own personal twist to the work they produced and it was an enjoyable session all round.
Session 2: Hand Building with Clay with Emily Hett
Our second session welcomed Associate Artist Emily Hett to the sheds. Emily guided the group through the process of hand building small clay pots and dishes and using coloured slip to add a first layer of colour and pattern to the pieces, inspired by nature.
Session 3: Exploring Charnwood's Geology and Glazing Ceramics
Dr Jack Matthews, The National Forest Company's Geoheritage Officer, gave a thoroughly engaging talk on the fascinating geoheritage of Charnwood Forest and it's global significance. Following on from this, we were joined again by ceramic artist Emily Hett, who led the group through the process of glazing their hand build pots taking inspiration from Charnwood's geology.
Session 4: Exploring The Outwoods and creating Cyanotype Prints
Following Dr Jack Matthews' insightful talk on the geoheritage of Charnwood Forest, the group decided they'd like to go and explore a forest site for themselves. We chose to visit The Outwoods and did a loop walk of the woodland, ensuring we stopped by to see willow sculptures by Nita Rao and the huge charcoal burner along the way. The group was joined by artist Liga Orlovska from Buzzing Roots, who led a cyanotype printing workshop using leaves and forna foraged from the woods to create beautiful prints.
Session 5: An Introduction to Writing Poetry with Owen Craven-Griffiths
For this session, the group was challenged to try their hand at something a little different! We were joined by the highly regarded local poet Owen Craven Griffiths (AKA John Berkavitch) who guided the group through a series of activities they helped them to unlock their creative writing and poetry skills. Some fantastic work was created and the group enjoyed it so much, we have arranged a follow up session to take place in a few weeks time at The Outwoods.
Session 6: Crafting with Natural Resources with Jane Bevan
Jane Bevan is a local artist, who works solely with natural materials that she has collected and foraged from the first and her local area. In this session, the group were supported through 3 different crafting activities, using the natural resources provided. They created collages, beautiful bugs and stitched leaves. We all marvelled at what a wonderful wealth of resources that nature can provide for us to create and craft with!
Imaginary insects and stitched leaves gallery:
Session 7: Writing Poetry in response to Nature with Owen Craven-Griffiths
We met at The Outwoods and had a wonderful walk around the woodland, foraging for interesting natural objects as we walked and listening to the sounds of birdsong and leaves rustling all around us. We were joined again by local poet Owen Craven Griffiths (AKA John Berkavitch) and following our walk, we headed into the cafe to sit and create poems in response to the experience we had had in the woodland and the beautiful natural objects we had collected.
Session 8: Bird Boxes and Recycled Plastic Crafts
This marked the first skills sharing session led by members from the shed. Members Karen and Geraldine kindly volunteered to share they woodwork and crafting skills with a group of artists and facilitators, all of whom have been part of the project so far and have led sessions themselves. It was a wonderful session and everyone created their own bird boxes, just in time for Spring, as well as learning how to use old plastic bottle tops to craft with.
Session 9: Introduction to Lino-Printing with The Laughing Cactus Printmaking Studio (Part 1)
Another completely new skill was introduced to the group during this session, with printmaker Mandeep Dhadialla, founder of The Laughing Cactus Printmaking Studio. The group were introduced to the various types of lino and cutting tools and were guided through a series of activities to help practice using them all. This eventually led to each person creating their own design onto a lino block, inspired by nature. This is the first of 2 sessions and the group will learn how to print and edition their work in the next workshop.
Session 10: Introduction to Lino-Printing with The Laughing Cactus Printmaking Studio (Part 2)
During this second session with printmaker Mandeep Dhadialla, founder of The Laughing Cactus Printmaking Studio the group finished off their hand carved lino images and learnt how to print them onto a variety of different types of paper.
Session 11: Exploring Glass Fusion with SmARTsy
Quirky birds and cherry blossom trees were created by the men and women in sheds members in this session, exploring the art of glass fusion. Different types of glass were used to build layers of colour and shape to create their own unique pieces of glass art, expertly guided by May from SmARTsy.
The next steps...
The Men and Women in Sheds are now focussing on developing the designs and ideas for the seating area that they are making, which will be installed in The Outwoods in October 2022. The bench will be entirely hand crafted by the group, and each member who has been part of the Skills Sharing project will add their own personal touches to it.
Here are a few photos of work in progress...