Box of delights

The theme for this issue is one dear to our hearts at Creative Beeston. If we can make it or buy it handmade then we are all the happier for it – our Christmas presents this year were no exception.

Making a present for someone can be so much fun, and you don’t have to be an expert to pull it off. There are many kits you can buy and workshops you can attend that will help you produce something of a high standard – check out our feature on Two Little Magpies courses for 2020!

As we become more and more environmentally conscious, we are leaning towards alternatives to ‘fast fashion’ and making your own clothes is just one of them. Sewing patterns are so much simpler these days and a LOT more affordable since the Vogue days. Try Tilly and the Buttons for their comprehensive range – they even have a blog to help you on your quest for a handmade wardrobe.

If you do fancy having a go at putting something together yourself, you will find plenty of inspiration at The Sewing Box in Beeston. Tucked away down Willoughby Street, just off the High Road, you will find a petite shop front that is the entrance to a treasure chest of pretty and functional things to make everything from a ribbon necklace, or knitted sweater, to a full outfit to wear.

You might have met the owner, Mike Barnes, at one of the Beeston Markets in the square over the years, his tables of brightly coloured ribbon trails may have attracted your gaze as you walked past the stall, reels of satin, lace and braids jostling for attention. He was always very helpful when choosing something to embellish one of my handmade makes, and was known for having something beautifully unique to tempt me to part with my cash.

Mike has a long history with market trading and manufacturing, having his interest roused at the age of eleven by a visit to Sneinton Market with his mother. He recalls how thriving it was, bustling with shoppers and traders, wrapping their goods in newspaper and keeping the atmosphere alive with their busy banter. Fifteen years later, by now a trained accountant working in the textile trade, Mike earned himself his own pitch selling baby grows he had designed and manufactured himself.

Despite many years of success as a trader, the popularity of street markets dwindled due to the rise in supermarkets and car parking restrictions and Mike stopped manufacturing over a decade ago. Whilst he was making underwear, he took a trip to India to source some of his trimmings and this sparked his interest in supplying the public with his exceptional finds. In 2014 he opened The Sewing Box in the centre of Beeston and here you can benefit from his expertise and his eye for collecting beautiful things.

When you have finally made it past the doorway of The Sewing Box, with its endless rows of threads and trims to pore over, you will find a well-stocked back-room full of delightful fabrics including individually sourced Africa wax fabric which is tricky to get hold of outside of London. Alison Barlow sources some of the fabrics for Mike whilst she scours the globe for exotic trims for her local online business, Mokshatrim. She also runs the Facebook page Made in Beeston, which came out of the desire to promote local crafters who make items from materials they buy at The Sewing Box.

A long-time customer and self-confessed promoter, Alison tells me that what is great about the Sewing Box is that Mike sources his stock using his connections with the trade, rather than the same typical wholesalers, and this makes his collection of trims and laces quite unique. In her words, ‘he has THE BEST range of lace and trims in Nottingham!’ Pair that with his knowledge of manufacturing and you have a shop manager that really knows his stuff! Alison has worked with Mike for six years now, supporting him with the website and social media presence but also with ideas for the shop.

And his prices are more accessible for the novice dressmaker. We have a number of good sewing places in Beeston that complement each other well, but he sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum. As well as the fabrics and threads, Mike stocks a small selection of kits, knitting patterns and wool. He’s a big supporter of Boomerang Bags and is always happy to promote local crafters and events.

You will find The Sewing Box on Willoughby Street, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LT.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sewingboxbeeston

Email – info@mikebarnes-trimmings.co.uk

DU

New Year, New Skills!

At the top end of the High Road you will find another delight. Two Little Magpies Gift Shop and Studio. They have an extensive range of courses for you to learn a craft and here are our top picks for sustainability.

Beginners Embroidery

A two-hour workshop, which encourages you to create your own unique project using basic embroidery stitches but the more experienced can learn new stitches too. A fabulous way to breathe new life into a tired-looking garment, embroidery is a great tool for brightening up knitwear and denim too. It can also be used to repair garments – but that’s for another class!

They have a large stash of threads and embellishments to dip into, including ribbons, sequins, beads, buttons and gems. Slow stitching projects like this can be so therapeutic.

What’s more, tea and biscuits, plus all materials are provided!

Paper Quilling

Supported by a large selection of templates, paper quilling is not quite as complicated as it looks, so it’s suitable for an absolute beginner. Coiling and shaping colourful strips of paper into beautiful works of art is so relaxing and produces great effects.

The finished projects are ‘light, delicate and look very intricate,’ they are bound to impress anyone who receives one as a gift! Made completely from paper they get the seal of approval from us, and like all Magpies courses, you will benefit from beverages and light snacks to keep you going.

You will also leave the workshop with a quilling tool and a fine glue applicator to continue your new craft at home.

Make a lampshade with Sarah Sewell

If you fancy making something for the home, Sarah Sewell of Wildgoose Designs will teach you how to make a fabric-covered 30cm drum lampshade – suitable for a table lamp or as a ceiling shade.

A fabulous idea to use up ends of fabric rolls and create something unique, so another thumbs up for both recycling and sustainability. This is also a course where no previous crafting experience is necessary. Oh and more tea and biscuits!

So what are you waiting for, it’s a new year and a time to learn new skills!

‘Good things come to those who craft.’ TLM

www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

DU

Dark Nights, Bright Lights

It’s autumn! Time to get out the woolly sweaters, hand-knitted socks and indulge in some cosy indoor activities. On bright, brisk days it feels good to get the heart pumping with a walk round the nature reserve or Highfields Park but as daylight dwindles and the heating kicks in, it’s wonderful to get back inside.

In contrast to the long summer days, where blue skies hang around until way past tea time and evenings extend outdoors, autumn nights are for creating a cosy atmosphere and snuggling under a homemade quilt, watching a film or reading a book. Part of creating the perfect environment for a cosy evening in has to be the lighting. We are very much a household that only turns on ‘the big light’ in cases of emergency, you know like a lost remote, so it’s important to have the right kind of lighting where it’s needed.

There are many different styles of lamp on the market these days to suit all tastes and budgets, we are literally spoiled for choice! However, something simple that will do the job suits me, and that’s why Mark Lowe’s contemporary pieces caught my eye a while back. Apart from being made from sustainable wood, which supports an environmental ethos, there is also the opportunity to personalise a lamp with a choice of wood, coloured flex and shade so you feel like you are part of the creative process.

Fellow Beestonian Mark, was born here and has stayed local to the area, apart from his university years in at Loughborough University where he gained a degree in furniture design. He lives and works out of a home workshop in Beeston, having spent his early years working for a lighting company that did not at all reflect his current tastes. Mark has always considered the role of lighting in the home as an important one. After leaving the industry for a while and pursuing a career in teaching design and technology, Mark’s been drawn towards the ‘honest design’ of the late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement and Bauhaus.

Although Mark has enjoyed a decade of teaching and inspiring his students to experiment with their own ideas and designs, he has continued to work on his own – feeding the need to have a creative outlet. He designed his first lamp around four years ago, an adjustable lamp for use at home which is just perfect for a reading corner. Tall and elegant, the original design has undergone many modifications, but the principle design has remained the same. The frank use of visible construction adds interest to the simple lines, and the coloured cord provides a colour pop that transforms simple into eye-catching in one vivid streak.

Mark tells me that as production has increased and designs have evolved, his wife Marianne has brought her own creative flair to the range. She sourced the coloured flex and shades that complement the designs so well and he continues to collaborate with her as new products are conceptualised on the pages of his sketch pad. The range now boasts a fixed standard lamp, table lamp, coat stand and coat racks in ash and oak with vibrant discs – a nod to the colour variations that can be added to the lamps. Subtle or statement? You decide, but with their beautiful simplicity, each piece would slot well into any tastefully finished room.

Since launching the business in 2017, Mark has been keen to get his products out into the wider world, and in June of this year they had their first stand at the Handmade in Oxford Show. He also tells me about a successful alliance with Long Eaton upholsterers John Sankey Furniture, which resulted in a selection of Mark’s lamps being installed to complement their sumptuous sofas in the Tunbridge Wells showroom, along with some quality publicity photos.

As I type up this article, his Facebook newsfeed tells me that Mark is being filmed at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester, a handpicked selection of over 160 designer makers. We hope they appreciated your beautiful designs as much as we do at The Beestonian Mark!

You can see the full Mark Lowe range on the website www.marklowe.co.uk and follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/marklowe.co.uk/ and Instagram @marklowelighting

DU

Creative Beeston: Word on the Street Art

You can’t help noticing the wealth of gigantic artwork that sprung up around Beeston last summer. Most striking of all perhaps are the trio of famous Beestonians, Edwin Starr, Richard Beckinsale and Sir Paul Smith gazing down on you from the twenty-three feet high precinct walls on Station Rd.

If like us you love what the street art has added to Beeston then you will be pleased to be informed that more is on its way!  Attracting established local and international artists, our town is being rejuvenated by an overcoat of colour on the ugly areas past developments have left behind.

Beeston has been undergoing a huge transformation (particularly over the past seven years, since the tram extension began) and the street art has been the latest creation to redefine our town. It could be said that some of Beeston’s rich history has been highlighted by these artistic additions to its landscape; I am thinking in particular of Rob Jackson aka RJ77 Stencils’ Canary Girls on the side of The Victory Club when I type this, and the word on the street is that there is more of this to follow. I caught up with project manager Jeanie Barton at Greenhood Coffee House for a progress report.

Jeanie Barton

The original plan was conceptualised by Jeanie in 2017 and a call for design submissions went out. The response, and what has been achieved since, has exceeded all her expectations and she has been overwhelmed by the support the project has received from the community. You might remember that Beeston Street Art was launched by a lively festival on 16th and 17th June 2018 where a collective of skilled artists sprayed up their artwork at eleven different locations all over Beeston. The festival art was funded by a crowdfund and corporate sponsors and its success prompted Broxtowe Council to release an art fund they inherited from Henry Boot Plc.

They then commissioned their striking mural by internationally acclaimed artist Zabou on the side of the Birds building at the top of Station Road.  She painted her portrait of Robin Hood on the disused toilet block on the old bus station site during the festival to test the brick and clinch the job.  Whilst the festival added vibrancy to the town, the subsequent art work has served to bolster the idea that it can enhance its overall image.

Jeanie has worked tirelessly to organise the works so far plus forthcoming commissions; she feels the new murals on the way will bring more cohesion to the pieces we already have and build on the intrinsic history that Beeston possesses, bringing it to the fore.  The project seems to be growing more organically and this will be reflected in some of the new art.  With the remaining council fund plus another crowdfund and new sponsors who include Saint Property Services, we will soon welcome Mr Cenz, Peter Barber, N4T4, Jim Vision and Alex Rubes to paint; Jeanie also hopes to bring NeSpoon here this year as well – she has designed a piece based on Parkes’ machine lace which was manufactured at the Anglo Scotian Mill on Wollaton Road in the early 1900s.

These works in the pipeline are due to begin in late July. Owen Jenkins’ family have fundraised for a memorial to their son, which will raise awareness of the Open Water Education Network, the charity they founded following his tragic death at Beeston Weir after rescuing two of his friends.  His portrait will appear atop the Station Rd side of Hairven overlooking the square; Collette Osborne who owns the building was keen to host the commemorative piece. At the mention of this scarily tall building, Jeanie remembers the daunting task of learning to use the scissor lift to prep the opposite wall for Zabou’s artwork.

She will be doing the same again in preparation for Qubek’s nature inspired mural to be constructed on the remaining precinct walls to the left of Zabou’s work and the delivery entrance opposite Tesco also in July. His design will inject some natural beauty into this urban spot; he is particularly fond of painting flora and bees.  The bee has undeniably become our town’s symbol although the name ‘Beeston’ is derived from the old English word Beos (meaning long grass) and Tun (meaning town or settlement). If you look around, you will see that bees have already featured in the art around our town.

Jeanie tells me that there are a few other pieces due to pop up over the summer, one of which is top secret so I cannot reveal any details, however I think there are many locals for whom it will raise a smile. When she is not co-ordinating Beeston Street Art, Jeanie is making music and being a mummy to her 6 year old son. She also writes a weekly column, The Jazz Diary for the Nottingham Post in print on Fridays and is an award winning jazz singer/songwriter.

If you would like to know more about Beeston Street Art and view a map/guide of the current pieces, then join the Beeston Street Art group on Facebook or go to the Beeston and District Civic Society’s website – they have supported Jeanie in driving this initiative forward.

Jeanie’s musical endeavours can also be followed via her Facebook page or website jeaniebarton.com

Her third album Moments of Clarity is due be released on 28th June.

https://www.facebook.com/jeaniebartonofficial/

DU

ABC Art Trail: A festival of creativity

One of the highlights of the year is back!

That’s right, on the first weekend of June, the ABC Art Trail will be winding its way again around the roads, streets and avenues of Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell and this year it is even bigger than before.

If you have ever attended the two day festival of creativity then you will no doubt remember what a buzz it creates. If you haven’t, then grab a pen and write ‘ABC Art Trail’ on the 1st and 2nd of June on your calendar, or type it in your phone if you don’t have one of December’s featured photographer Lamar’s beautiful calendars hung up in the office like we do.

The Beestonian team both trailed and wrote about the whole weekend producing a raving review in July’s bumper issue last year. There was so much to see, and this year will be no exception. Expanded to include even more venues and more creatives it is ‘a wonderful opportunity to see some private studios that are rarely open to the public.’ With a mixed media collection of paint, print, textiles, jewellery, ceramics  and glass there is something to appeal to everyone’s tastes and budget.

When I met with Karen Atwood last year, who is one of the artists and organisers of the event, I was instantly struck by her passion in promoting the work of others in the trail. This pervades throughout the weekend as you visit each venue, some in home studios and other housed in local businesses. Artist supporting other artists and sharing their talents with those in the community is a wonderful thing to be part of. It is also brilliant to see how many local businesses have offered their support via sponsorship.

If it’s a weekend of creative inspiration you want then you have got it! If you are looking for a one-off gift that you might never see anywhere else, then that’s on offer too, and more than that you get a behind the scenes peek into a range of creative processes which can really make you appreciate the wealth of talented people we have residing in our local area.

You can read about last year’s ABC Art Trail by clicking on the link below:

https://beestonian.com/2018/07/27/creative-beeston-abc-arts-trail/

You can download a handy pocket-sized map of all 13 venues and 30 featured artists via the official website here:

www.abcarttrail.uk/map–flyer.html

Look out for promotional material popping up all over Beeston and follow the posts on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/abcarttrail/

DU

Creative Beeston: Beautiful Things are Possible

As we rapidly approach spring, buds are bursting, branches are blossoming and the spikes of green that have been shooting up through the earth are now sporting their familiar yellow bonnets. If like me, you are always delighted by these markers of new life, then you may also be one of those Beestonians who enjoys the abundance of green spaces we have surrounding our town. Warmer days, with longer periods of daylight, encourage us to leave our cosy homes and embrace the opportunity to get a bit of fresh air and sunshine between the showers.

With the threat of climate change almost at its most critical point, it is clear that fast action is needed to preserve nature’s treasures. There are a number of national campaign groups that work tirelessly towards this but there are also positive things happening right on our doorstep. Making the least impact is key to our planet’s survival, so it makes sense that putting a stop to harmful activities would have the biggest impact – you will be more than aware of the plastic problem. The Climate Coalition is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change – they have 15 million members from all over the UK.

Launched in 2015 and promoted by stunts such as turning the BT Tower green. The #showthelove campaign has led to some positive and dramatic changes. On Valentine’s Day in 2015 a cross party pledge was made to tackle climate change and this was pivotal in the UK taking a global leadership role in reaching the first international climate commitment – the Paris Agreement.

#showthelove has been championed by institutions such as Lords Cricket Ground, which announced a switch to 100% renewable energy in 2018. By which time the movement had reached 126 million people. 100,000 of them made, wore and shared green hearts and 80 MPs got personally involved. An incredible 600 community events happened over the UK in 2018 and the first Green Heart Hero Awards were held in Speaker’s House.

Beeston’s own ‘buzzing branch of the women’s institute’ have extended their creativity to promote Show the Love 2019. The (aptly named) Hive WI is just entering its second year and from the beginning saw a lot of interest in environmental issues among the members. Litter walks and wildflower planting have been just some of the suggestions already put forward, so a national project like this immediately attracted their attention.

Where you end and the environment begins is a really blurry line. Whether you are able to see plants and green spaces in your day-to-day life is proven to have an effect on your mental health.

Jenny-Marie Gale, president of the The Hive WI spoke of her passion to combine creativity and projects with purpose. She believed #showthelove was an important way to ‘raise awareness about damage done ignorantly, not really consciously or maliciously, to our planet.’ She felt that now is the time to focus on reversing that damage, ‘not just for the sake our wildlife, but also for future generations.’ She also pointed out that The Wi is all about education, so a campaign like this fits well with that. Education starts with conversation.

One of the members Rosa Davies was attracted to The Hive WI by their ‘strong environmental focus and involvement in campaigns like #showthelove. She feels that ‘the WI is no longer seen as outdated and has a strong modern message’ which resonates with many people in society currently. If you follow the news you will no doubt be aware of the climate marches that are happening all over the globe and that Greta Thunberg a 16 year old Swedish political activist has just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. It’s big news people!

Rosa mentioned the Trees of Beeston section in the Beestonian and how a simple idea like that encourages people to be aware of and appreciate their natural surroundings. And this is what the #showthelove campaign is all about. ‘Where you end and the environment begins is a really blurry line. Whether you are able to see plants and green spaces in your day-to-day life is proven to have an effect on your mental health.’ The handmade hearts that symbolise this love for our environment are shared with the community to prompt a response – to encourage people to start a discussion.

The collection of hearts took about two months to make and members found the process itself both mindful and ‘addictive!’ They were put together by the sub groups who meet at the Wednesday Café Society or for a Saturday Crafternoon. The intention is, now that they have made a set of hearts to display, that they keep adding to them to increase their impact each year. When I went along to watch the ceremonious hanging of the hearts, at Rudyard’s Tea House, I was inspired by the individual messages conveyed in each one.

Many are cut out of verdant green felt in various shades but there are also hand-knitted hearts, all have been lovingly embellished. I spied a miniature tree, a stag, a rainbow and flowers embroidered in vibrant colours. Of course there is one dedicated to Beeston. The effort that has been expended on every single heart makes it that bit more meaningful, each representing an element of nature that we hold close to our own hearts. You will be able to enjoy them in situ until the end of April.

Making a commitment to collectively save our planet is something we can all get involved with by making conscious changes that show how much we really do love this incredible spinning sphere of rock, gases, minerals, water and delicately coexisting ecosystems.

You can find out more online at www.theclimatecoalition.org

DU

Creative Beeston: The Hive WI

Jenny-Marie started thinking about The Hive WI in March 2017 following the death of her mum. Her world had suddenly become very small and she wasn’t meeting new people or trying anything new. The Beeston WI was also launched around the same time but it was somewhat oversubscribed so she decided to start one of her own. She gathered together a collection of people from the Beeston WI’s waiting list and via social media, with their support, and the idea went from ‘shall we?’ to an actual launch night with ninety ladies in attendance! She is proud of what has been achieved so far and feels privileged to preside over such a great team.

It’s the empowering nature of the group that feels the most rewarding to her. People have come along and ‘developed a love for craft’ which proves that she has succeeded in creating a space for creativity, community and chat – that all important ‘me time’ that is so important when our lives are so busy and fraught with stress.

The WI was originally founded by women to provide empowering activities for women and The Hive WI branch is a proud member of the Nottinghamshire Federation of WIs. They meet every second Wednesday in the month to share and learn new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities. With a honeycomb as their emblem, it is clear to see they have their roots firmly in the natural world.

Jenny-Marie tells us

“The response to the hearts has been brilliant, from simply being asked why they are there to starting people talking about our planet and how to make small personal changes to conversations about people craving community and wanting to be involved in organisations like The Hive WI. We have had people talk to us about not knowing how to find real community, consequently we have had a few visitors and enquiries about joining. So a community event about global problem is in turn creating more opportunities for community. Love it!”

And so do we Jenny-Marie.

If you would like to find out more about The Hive WI then please get in touch, they would love to hear from you

Email: thehivewi@gmail.com

Website: www.thehivewi.com

Facebook: Facebook/thehive/

DU

Celebrating 5 years of ACT!

 

For those of you that didn’t know, Beeston has it’s very own tourism ambassador in Marysia Zipser and this year marks five years since her interest in local heritage blossomed into a fully-fledged organisation promoting both local and international artists – Art, Culture, Tourism (ACT).  By Debra Urbacz.

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Marysia originally moved to Beeston in 2012, to retire and continue with her writing but after exploring the local area her head was quickly turned by the rich tapestry of its heritage, as well as an appreciation of its wealth of green spaces to enjoy. Determined to spread the word she has since made connections with creatives all over the globe which has earned ACT international status.

It’s been an exciting five years for ACT! Since the birth of her networking events, Marysia has collaborated with artists, photographers, writers and filmmakers alike with impressive results! She herself is inspired by nature and feels that connections are made naturally and she has allowed ACT to grow organically via the ‘opportunity’ pathways.  She is a professional promoter of People and Places.  When I asked her for the highlights since ACT started she mentioned these as her top five;

  • Exploring Beeston, meeting new friends, discovering the historical archives at Boots and the ‘heritage wall’ at The Boathouse Café, in particular the photograph of Ghandi’s visit in 1931
  • The first creative networking event at Beeston’s landmark site, Anglo Scotian Mills themed around Nottingham lace in December 2013, followed by Cultures Crossing in March 2015
  • Making ACT international via articles she published on LinkedIn bringing Beeston critical acclaim
  • The Italian connection – in particular meeting visual artist, best-selling author, journalist and official biographer to Pope Francis, Roberto Alborghetti ,who first visited in Beeston in 2014 and has fuelled her creative ideas ever since. Roberto is re-visiting Beeston  for his 6th time early March
  • The Ghost Bus project. An idea conceptualised by Roberto Alborghetti on a visit to Barton’s garage and inspired by one of the old decaying buses. His Ghost Bus short films show us how we can see what we would never imagine to see. The project with Robin Hood’s help will be travelling around the world
  • Cultural tours to Tuscany, Venice, Frascati/Rome, originally an extension of the Italian connection, which will now be moving into other countries too

We are delighted that Marysia is still finding the energy to plough into her projects. This year she is relaunching her popular networking evenings and revisiting the theme of Cultures Crossing. Appearing at different locations, on the last Wednesday of each month, around Beeston and Nottingham, Marysia will be pulling together artists, photographers, poets, musicians, storytellers and performers in a showcase of their work around this theme.

The first of these took place at The Berliner on Wednesday 30th January at The Berliner with the second Cultures Crossing evening taking place at Synergy NG9, 60 Attenborough Lane, Chilwell, on Wednesday 27th February, 6:00-8:30pm.

See and read more about ACT and her blog on www.artculturetourism.co.uk and get involved with ACT-ive Opportunies programme http://www.artculturetourism.co.uk/partners–sponsors.html

GO/grow with the flow…naturally…nothing forced” – Marysia Zipser 2016

DU

Creative Beeston: Soul Food at The DoughMother

I first learned of The DoughMother, about a month ago, when Mr U presented me with a white paper bag containing a couple of still warm sourdough baguettes and a fruit syrup glazed koulouri which was nothing short of divine!

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Baked goods have a way of invoking feelings of reassurance; of being hugged from the inside. We ate the baguettes with a bowl of homemade soup later, perfect! The creativity was evident, and so I had to find out more.

Baking is an experience we can all appreciate in a holistic way. Getting back in touch with all our senses, particularly our sense of smell, can revive happy memories of early childhood. Scent is the first way we recognised our mothers, and contributes to us feeling safe and loved. According to psychologist and columnist Linda Blair, who wrote an article extolling the virtues of The Great British Bake-Off, ‘the act of baking is a process, not a soundbite. It takes time to read a recipe, gather the ingredients, mix the dough, let it rise, shape it, and then bake what we’ve created.’ It’s how we humans are most comfortable operating, understanding what we are doing, step by step. It’s good for our wellbeing, and all this effort brings us great rewards.

…she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’

We have been back a couple of times since and it seems word has got out already in the neighbourhood about the artisan boulanger in the middle of Central Avenue. Each time we visit we are greeted with a generous welcome, Houlia tells me that they celebrated their two-month anniversary on New Year’s Day and already she and her partner Alican have attracted regular customers. Houlia is ‘The DoughMother.’ She is responsible for the warm scent of bread baking in the busy oven out back. The aroma alone is enough to entice you in, but they have more than delicious loaves on offer to tempt you. Alican is the maker of the sweeter treats. The koulouri is his speciality, but they also have a range of cakes and pastries in their antique glass cabinet. The flour they use for the breads is locally sourced, from Green’s Mill in Sneinton. They are proud of the space that they have built together and overwhelmed with the support they received from friends in bringing their dream to reality.

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Using reclaimed bits and pieces, transported by supermarket trolley in the absence of a car, they have created a welcoming café space which encourages you to stay, have a coffee, read a book or just enjoy the eclectic mix of music playing in the background. It is an honest place where everyone is welcome. Alichan tells me about their plans to develop the secure back yard into an area where children can play safely, whilst their parents enjoy a coffee and a catch up with a friend. Houlia tells me how the whole idea for The DoughMother came about and why she chose this area: she tells me that since moving from a small island in Greece to Nottingham in 2011 to study for a Biology Masters, and then her PhD, she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’

Living close to Central Avenue, she noticed that lack of opportunities for locals to buy the wholesome, home-cooked food that would have been available in her home town, and how important this experience is to communities. Both she and Alichan talked of the alienation that is occurring in society and how providing spaces like The DoughMother is encouraging people to come out of their homes in search of nourishment after a busy working day, to enjoy a bit of escape from that in a space that breathes a nurturing warmth into their lives. It’s a place to meet friends, enjoy community and celebrate the very basic nourishment of life, eating together.

I look around and appreciate the emblems of a simple life: a wire basket of milk bottles reminds me of Mr Jeffries, our copper-topped milkman, who dropped off our daily pint as we still slumbered, and came around cheerily on a Friday afternoon for his milk money. There are accents of nature, lush greenery against the soft tangerine walls, and the mismatched furniture harks back to a time when things were built to last.

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If you haven’t discovered this little gem yet, then you really should pay them a visit. You can’t miss the clever signage, designed by Houlia herself, thankfully you won’t find any Mafiosi drinking the Greek coffee and beating you to the pastries.

You will find The DoughMother at 109 Central Avenue, Beeston, NG9 2QS Or on Facebook at facebook.com/thedoughmother

DU

Creative Beeston: We are the creative champions!

As we round off another year celebrating all that is creative in our vibrant little town, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to rejoice in the creative diversity we have in Beeston.

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As well as the wealth of independent shopping prospects up and down the High Road, we have artists and makers in in every corner of our suburban streets. One local creative, who has been joining me in honouring Beeston’s originality is local photographer Lamar Francois, whose image of the metal sculpture by Hilary Cartmel in Broadgate park is immortalised in his 2019 calendar.

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I met with Lamar on a dazzling autumn day, which is pretty much how I remember the first photographs that I ever saw of his. I bought the 2017 urban landscapes calendar as an attractive reminder that the concrete and neon of our city, form beautiful backdrops to the monotonous moments of our daily lives. The craft behind a product like this is why I buy handmade and indeed why we should. So far removed from the over-produced flimsy printed pages in supermarkets and chain stores, this quality finished calendar represents hours of careful consideration from start to finish.

Nestled neatly between a beautifully illuminated Market Square and Nottingham Castle bathed in summer sunshine, the calendar contains two Beeston related photographs but the Broadgate one is my favourite. The intricate metalwork design of the organic sculpture stands out against shade under boughs and small children play in the background, their ribbons echoing the curves within the sculptures frame. The other image gives a wider view of our local treasures, the River Trent taken from Beeston Rylands playing fields, and is equally dramatic in its own right. Lamar tells me the process of choosing the right photographs is a tough one. They have to be relatable, as well as awe inspiring, and of locations that people instantly recognise whilst avoiding clichés.

He hid safely behind the social media curtain, which did get his work out there, but it also had a tendency to be lost in a sea of images.

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Lamar’s passion for photography happened around the same time that he was living in Beeston, as a student at Nottingham University, where he now works part-time helping to manage a seed library that serves the plant science community. He originally used his phone to photograph his subjects but was curious about cameras and how these could extend his skills. He helped to run a photography society at university which gave him the opportunity he needed. After buying his own camera, Lamar secured some Prince’s Trust finding which helped him to pay for extra equipment as well as giving him access to a business mentor, which he says has been the most valuable resource of all.

As is the case with many creatives, the promotional side doesn’t always come as easy as creating a product, and this is something Lamar found especially difficult. Having Asperger’s means that he wasn’t confident socially, and this really hampered the necessity to push himself out into the spotlight. He hid safely behind the social media curtain, which did get his work out there, but it also had a tendency to be lost in a sea of images. His business mentor has helped to boost Lamar’s confidence and encouraged him to market his images by printing off and framing a series of limited edition prints for exhibiting. A decade on he is experiencing success.

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I asked Lamar how this made him feel and he spoke animatedly of the joy when someone shows their appreciation of your work by being willing to pay for it. Their admiration has encouraged and bolstered him to experiment more. He also feels that through networking he has met many supportive people who have offered advice and lead to collaborations, the most exciting of these being the pictorial representation of the City of Literature bid, especially as he was chosen out of many other talented photographers – I could feel his pride swell as he told me this.

And so this is why we should shop at our independents this festive period. Not only are you likely to find more unique and quirky presents and be putting money back into the local economy, you are supporting our entrepreneurs and their families, helping to build communities and making an actual individual do a ‘happy dance!’

You can acquire a copy of the calendar at some of our indie shops, who also champion a number of our local creatives. It is currently stocked at Artworks on the corner of Chilwell High Road/Imperial Road  Perfectly Formed at Chilwell’s Creative Corner and Two Little Magpies at the Broadgate end of the High Road.

Or via Lamar’s website www.picturedbylamar.co.uk where you can also view more of his spectacular photography.

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