Creative Beeston: On the right path

Here at Creative Beeston we are passionate about the endorsement of craft therapy. The merits of art and crafts on mental well-being have been carefully studied, and the work of the Mental Health Foundation found substantial evidence that patients, who are suffering with depression or anxiety, found creative pursuits more successful in helping their symptoms than medical alternatives.

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We are so lucky to have numerous creative opportunities in Beeston and beyond, and most of them do not appear to have any age restrictions. Nevertheless, this did lead me to wonder what specifically we are doing to engage the elderly people in our community? I gave my memory a prod, then I remembered a lady I had been introduced to a while back in relation to community workshops she had been running in local care homes. Promptly I contacted her via her Facebook page and despite a busy schedule, she was more than happy to meet up with me. Taking the tram out of Beeston towards the city then back out again in a less familiar direction, I eventually found her in her bright new office in Clifton.

Karyn started Creative Paths, a Community Interest Company (CIC), working from a tiny attic office at the Voluntary Action Bureau in Beeston, fired by her desire to recreate the benefit of her very first job as a Community Artist, working with mainly elderly and terminally ill patients at Manor Hospital in Derby in the 1980s. Prior to the Community Care Act of 1990 support for the more vulnerable in our society was inadequate. Community Care ensures that people in need of long-term care are now able to live either in their own home, with adequate support, or in a residential home setting.

One of Creative Paths activities is to engage residents in workshops, such as craft, reminiscence and art.   Much of Creative Path’s work is centred around the elderly in care homes and in particular patients who have dementia. As well as the creative outcomes, people benefit from the participation and process of making and creating together. All Creative Paths workshops are designed to be accessible and have elements of sensory work, reminiscence and creativity so that there is something for everyone.

lack of interaction can exacerbate confusion and if people are engaged they tend to be much happier in their surroundings

Other services Creative Paths offer, with the help of community education funding via Inspire, is a range of specialist community learning. Such as the Creative Reminiscence course which runs for five weeks. Residents use photos, objects and memorabilia to stimulate their learning. In the group they share their thoughts on a topic such as childhood and this promotes their social interaction. This can counteract the isolation that many people with dementia can experience due to communication difficulties. Often, as people tend to be from the same area, some common memories spring up and spark natural conversations, which is wonderful to witness as well as being brilliant for the brain.

One of the techniques which is employed is known as Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, which can help the memory and thinking skills of people with mild to moderate dementia and can improve the quality of their life quite dramatically. Often songs are used as a form of stimulus and to promote a theme which can then be built upon. Karyn believes that these sessions are effective in producing positive results. She tells me that a lack of interaction can exacerbate confusion and if people are engaged they tend to be much happier in their surroundings. Evidence suggests there can be less accidents or falls due to their calmer mental state and even the need for medication has been reduced in some cases, all amazing outcomes.

Although Creative Paths are currently delivering learning and workshops in some of Beeston’s residential care homes, their offices recently moved to Clifton.  Creative Paths is now piloting a project in Clifton called Activity Match, where residents are supported with an activity that meets their specific interests. Participant’s unique pastimes are identified and then they are carefully matched with a volunteer who shares similar interests. Volunteers are often unemployed or retired and needing a purpose themselves. The benefits of this service, unlike some of the group projects, is that it addresses individuals’ needs on a one on one basis.

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Karyn also mentions they are providing some family learning opportunities in the Clifton community starting in February.  It is clear she still has a lot of ideas, the energy to realise them and a committed team to deliver this valuable support, that adds significant value to the daily lives of some of our older residents.

Despite humble beginnings, Karyn has persisted with her ambitions to empower the elderly in our community. I can feel warmth emanating from her as we chat over the set of tables she has acquired for her new space. The room we are in is spacious with big light filled windows and I think of my own community projects. Karyn tells me that the room is for hire and can be adapted to suit a range of functions, I make a note of this.

Room bookings can be made via the website http://www.creativepaths.org.uk/ but you can also find them on Facebook. And if you want any proof of the wonderful work they are doing I suggest a scroll through the photographs on either page, they are absolutely brimming with positive creativity that is a pure joy to see.

DU

Creative Beeston: Not Another Coffee Shop in Beeston

Trading places…

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Here at The Beestonian we are always on a quest to find out what makes out town so special to its inhabitants.  The I Am Beeston project addresses this perfectly, with comments straight from the local’s mouths and a more recent mission ‘Buzzword’ the search and finding of a poem for Beeston, also revealed what Beeston represents to many of us.

We were rather more than a little bit thrilled then to find that a group of studious guests of Beeston, who came from Thailand back in 2007, made it their home for the duration of their studies and were so taken with the place they decided to create their own little bit of Beeston back in Bangkok. They describe Beeston as the ‘perfect home from home’ and the memories they shared of their time in our special little town clearly illustrate how inspired they were by their stay here.

“They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food.”

I have been messaging an affable gentleman, who introduces himself as Ball, which is apparently a ‘Thai nickname’ but I am too polite to ask why. He says he found Beeston ‘comfortable and sincere’ then goes on to mention the joy of waking up with the sound of church bells, the friendly atmosphere and enjoying shopping in the local shops in preparation for a feast at a friend’s house. He also alludes to the Christmas lights and barbecues in the warmer months, in fact food features quite a lot in his recollections of his time here. Favourite hangouts were The Bean and The Last Post, he recalls being amused by seeing a friend strolling out of Ladbrokes, on one of his visits to the latter, whilst ‘relaxing on a cold day.’

Within this group of Nottingham University engineering and business students lay ‘amazing chefs, food lovers and a talented baker’ that delighted in producing ‘simple but hearty dishes’ to share and socialise around. This was a hugely important part of their life in Beeston and one they have taken back to Thailand with them. When they designed Beeston Café in 2016, their intention was to recreate all of their positive encounters. They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food. Taking influences from their favourite places in Beeston, and other places in the UK, they have developed a menu which demonstrates their desire to share their wonderful experiences with their customers back in their homeland.

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Obviously curious, I typed ‘Beeston Café Bangkok’ into my search bar and eagerly awaited the results. What greeted my eyes was a slick website with visions of plump juicy grilled tomatoes and sizzling chicken, surrounded by lots of happy guests in a contemporary setting. The décor is just as sumptuous, a subdued palette with accents of exposed brick and industrial shelving occupied with gleaming glassware.  The Bean’s influence is most noticeable in the banners attached to the low barriers that mark the seating area outside the café but the menu is much more eclectic. For 230 Baht (around a fiver) you can get all day breakfast that would easily rival JD Wetherspoon’s and there are hints of some of their ‘pub classics’ too. I have to say though, I was most intrigued by the ‘Croissant Pudding.’ They do seem to have found many uses for this humble pastry, including cross breeding it with a waffle at some point.

With Menu Options such as ‘Fill My Belly’ I would be surprised if they hadn’t sampled the local takeaways at least once. Incidentally they do deliveries but since the last parcel I awaited from Bangkok was sent by slow boat, took three months and was mouldy on arrival, I won’t take my chances that they will be ‘filling my belly’ tonight. Each of the former students has their favoured UK dish on the menu and they take their coffee seriously. It is described by Ball as ‘debated to perfection.’

Set in Ekamai, Bangkok’s hippest neighbourhood, Beeston Café is tucked away down a small side street in an area full of cool coffee shops, pop-up bars and vintage shops.  According to Trip Advisor it’s where the ‘city’s well-dressed and well-heeled spend their nights sipping cocktails.’ They could be talking about our Beeston then, with its abundance of cool cafes, and its burgeoning night-time economy which has been driven by stylish bars like The Berliner and Rye then fortified by the recent opening of The Bendigo Lounge.

When I saw that Nottingham Post had run an article about Beeston Café a couple of weeks back I sent Ball a few more questions in a bid to add a bit of extra insight into this article. Unfortunately he didn’t quite round to answering them so I guess we will never know if he ever had his photograph taken with the Beeman, watched a wrestling match at The Victory Club or enjoyed an afternoon boating on the lake at Highfields. It is however, wonderful to know that the legacy of Beeston café culture lives on 5,934 miles away (according to Google) so kop-khun-kha Beeston Café!

You can find Beeston Café on facebook ,their website is www.beestoncafe.com. Be sure to expect the warmest of welcomes if you are ever in the area and you do decide to pay them a visit.

DU

Creative Beeston: Two for Joy

As Christmas approaches, I felt it would be terribly tardy of me not to give Beeston’s favourite magpies a bit of a shout out.

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Since opening their decorative doors in April 2016, Two Little Magpies up at Broadgate Shops have been serving us up a delightful selection of handmade crafts and original artworks supplied by local creatives. But that’s not the only reason we love them so much. Because of Lucy’s fondness for Beeston and the wonderful characters within it, Creatives Beeston’s Bee Creative project has been allowed to thrive and develop into the hugely successful community project it has now become.

Homeless, after The Candela Shop closed down in January 2016, the Bee Creative team were looking for a space to spend one evening a month indulging in a bit of craft therapy. We had some great evenings in the White Lion, Refan and The Star Inn, all of whom made us very welcome, but lacked the security and consistency that a regular spot could provide.  Loyal followers turned up eagerly but it was difficult to reach the people that were less confident to arrive in random places on an ad hoc monthly basis.

“During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.”

As soon as I met Lucy, she was keen to consider offering her shiny new studio space to us for our monthly craft sessions. She even suggested she arranged the first one for us, seemingly delighted at the chance to test-drive the studio. There was no charge but we set up a donation scheme so that she wasn’t out of pocket and this worked really well. People were as generous with their cash as Lucy was with her time and resources and we had a surplus by Christmas. We used the pot of money to provide refreshments and materials for a Mind Crafternoon, where donations were collected for the charity, and put together a pamper evening with fizz, nibbles and free craft activities as well as an opportunity for subsidised massage therapy.

Bee Creative moved to bigger premises this June, we are now at Middle Street Resource Centre, where between eight to twenty people gather every Monday night to create, de-stress and generally spend a couple of hours in the company of a great bunch of supportive people. During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.  Our collaboration with Two Little Magpies continues though. One of the original members of the craft group now works at the shop and has designed our new Creative Beeston logo, which will be revealed in the new year. And you can expect to see them joining forces next year in creating some community events.

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Two Little Magpies have since put together a comprehensive selection of fabulous workshops of their own that are proving very popular with the locals. As well as the instructed workshops in which you can craft some paper flowers or stitch yourself a Dorset button, Lucy has set up a few ‘drop-in’ nights where you rock up with your own projects for a bit of ‘Stitch and Chat’ or more amusingly ‘Smutty Stitch!’ The latter session is described as ‘not for the faint hearted’ and unsurprisingly the next one is fully booked! Who knew Beeston was full of such filthy folk?!

If like me, you love the independents in your town then please remember to shop local this Christmas. Leave the mass-produced tat on the shelf and buy something lovingly handmade from one of our many creatives. I don’t know about you, but it feels a lot better to know that your money is staying in the local economy and is more than likely sustaining one of the families in your community. What can be more wholesome than that?

You can find Two Little Magpies at 112, High Road , Beeston. For details of all of their crafty events follow them on facebook or check out their website www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

DU

Creative Beeston: Keep it Local

We have a number of excellent local independent stores in Beeston and, as a community newspaper, we want to encourage their use.

So, from time to time we’ll give you a little pen-portrait of a few of them, to remind you – or enlighten you. The first four are just a few metres from each other, in the ‘indie quarter’ on Chilwell Road: easily accessible by public transport or you can park in the pay-and-display areas (free for first hour) next to The Chequers or down by the Methodist church. Alternatively, turn down Imperial Road and look for spaces in the unrestricted areas.

The Guitar Spot

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106 Chilwell Road; open 10 am – 4 pm (except Sunday)

Several of our local shops are ‘specialist’ – can you guess what this one specializes in?! Jimmy has a good range of electric and acoustic guitars and is the only Nottingham dealer for Gordon Smith guitars. He is always happy for people to pop in for a chat and to try out a few instruments without obligation. Jimmy also has accessories like strings and cables plus amplifiers and a reasonable choice of ukuleles. In addition, he gives guitar lessons and plays in a local band, so he knows what he’s talking about! He can arrange amp and instrument repair too. Facebook page –https://www.facebook.com/The-Guitar-Spot-140096079349571/.

Beeston Bed Centre 

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57-59 Chilwell Road NG9 1EN – 0115 922 4633

We reckon you could just about furnish and carpet your house from local suppliers and not far from The Guitar Spot you can find a choice of things to sleep on at The Beeston Bed Centre! They have mattresses, bed frames and bedroom furniture all at discount prices. Their website is http://www.beestonbedcentre.co.uk/ where there is plenty of information, including a virtual tour; but obviously for something as personal as a bed you need to try, so why not pop in for a lie down?

Yarn

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55 Chilwell Road NG9 1EN – 0115 925 3606; open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm, (late night Thursdays til 7pm)

Specialist in all things to do with knitting: patterns, needles, buttons, accessories and, of course, the yarn & wool! They’ve been here more than ten years now and sell online from their excellent website – http://www.yarn-in-notts.co.uk/ (check their online shop) as well as to personal callers.  Check the website for details of classes and events – for example, you can learn to crochet with Yarn.

Local Not Global

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51 Chilwell Road – 07967 224105; open 9 am – 5 pm, Wednesday Saturday

Excellent little local deli-cum-cafe with, as the name suggests, lots of products sourced locally, such as honey, beer and sauces. You can find all sorts of bread and pastries and specialties in the way of biscuits, drinks, teas and coffees. Jo serves some of the best coffee, tea and snack-type meals e.g. breakfast and lunch or just afternoon tea/coffee and cake! You can either sit in or take-away. She also does outside catering. Well worth a look in for a nice gift or two!

 

You can’t beat local for knowledgeable and personal service.

The Business of Creating a Creative Business

That tongue twister is almost as tricky as that well-known dilemma that exists in the artistic world, that creative types are pretty poor when it comes to self-promotion.

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In fact many creatives would probably agree that they would rather hide themselves in their workshops than go out and promote their own work, because let’s face it that’s where they are generally happiest.

I am not suggesting that anyone who is creative is rubbish at business but if you ask any artist or maker I am sure most of them would say that promoting themselves is the bit they dread. I guess this explains why traditionally artists enlisted the service of agents to sell their work for them. For emerging creatives this has been more recently solved partially by the resurgence of craft fairs and handmade gift shops, which give them the chance to test the market for themselves.

There’s no colour in the business world

At Creative Beeston we like to provoke imagination and wonder in our little town and apart from writing a column for the Beestonian, running a facebook page and organising community craft events, we are also keen to work productively with local businesses to promote them. So it was with great interest that I met with an interesting lady, over a quality cup of tea in Rudyard’s, who is determined to make it her mission to break down these barriers. In her job as a telephone sales trainer, Trish Clay has been meeting a lot of creative bods who are desperate to get an artistic business off the ground but have no idea where to start. Inspired by their talent and their passion, she is fiercely keen to use her altruistic side to help these people fulfil some of their aspirations.

With her business brain and wealth of contacts Trish is in a great position to be able to signpost these people in the right direction but this desire runs deeper than a simple interest in helping a bunch of artists get their work sold. “There’s no colour in the business world”, she explained. This phrase rang in my attentive ears. There does appear to be a lack of appreciation for the value of genuine creativity in the business world, and yet there can be so many benefits to the overlap. I think about the art work I have seen in offices, sometimes clinically chosen to reflect the business and less often selected for its sheer magnificence. We have some fine examples of individually inspired interiors amongst some of our local independents. From Froth to Greenhood’s to Flying Goose Café and the Vintage Tearooms, no hot beverage experience will feel the same. This is down to a clever mix of intuitive décor and a certain ambience that the business owners have fashioned from their own creative minds.

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Middle Street Resource Centre is more of a community centre than a creative business but Lynda Lally facilitated the inclusion of artwork in their café space because she believes it promotes the well-being of their visitors. Trish mentions her father’s own struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and how a form of art therapy had almost certainly helped him to recover. I recall an article in the Independent recently about cancer Doctors who are using art therapy to cope with the emotional stress as a consequence of their work.  It goes significantly further than mere art appreciation for Trish. As a representative of The Beeston Network Group, she is desperate to try and encourage local businesses to open their minds up to creative crossovers and to encourage support for some of the more original ideas that are popping up all over Beeston. She expressed her frustration at the lack of publicity for some of these unique and often exciting events that have the potential to make our town stand out as a place that people would enjoy visiting. She is a fantastic advocate for our town.

The Beeston Network Group hold a meeting at Rudyard’s Tea rooms every third Tuesday in the month where Trish has a slot to pitch to the attendees what Beeston can offer them in support of their businesses, her aim to encourage those in the community who can work together for mutual benefit to network. She has six-years’ experience working within Broxtowe Borough Council, steering initiatives that link businesses with community, and has been collaborating closely with Liam from Rudyard’s on ideas to mesh creativity with business together. Local artists’ work is displayed on the walls and Liam has joined forces with other creatives to produce gift packs for the tea shop. It’s a dynamic partnership and Liam was pulled into the conversation a handful of times to refer to future ideas and his brand-new venture set to emerge this Autumn.

The Hive is a set of three units, in the centre of Beeston, which are currently being converted into flexible workspaces for creatives with favourable rents. It feels like everything’s connecting together, building on the artisan impression that was perhaps initiated by Arts United and then Chilwell’s Creative Corner. We have an abundance of workshop opportunities there and at Two Little Magpies to name a few, plus life drawing by the canal as featured in the last issue. And if that isn’t enough to bring you into Beeston town we have the Oxjam Takeover kicking off on October 14th!

DU

A Parliament of Pride

One day, you might be out and about in Beeston’s pubs or cafes, and you might spot someone doing crochet. That someone is likely to be Frea Waninge, 30, who enjoys making little crochet owls with a difference…

I met Frea over tea and coffee, and it wasn’t long before she’d produced a bunch of multi-coloured crochet owls from her bag, and placed them on the table. This caught the attention of one of the baristas, who immediately said how cute they are.

However, these are not just any owls, they are pride owls. Frea uses a pattern that she found online by fellow crochet-lover Josephine Wu (a.k.a A Morning Cup of Jo Creations) but has adapted the colours of yarn she uses.

Frea bases her owls on the colours used for various pride flags which represent a range of different identities and sexualities. She has been doing crochet long before she began making the owls; she would make scarves, hats, and even phone covers for herself. One of her scarves was made using the colours representative of asexuality, as Frea identifies as ace. Once she discovered the owl pattern, she decided to use the yarn she had left from her ace scarf, and made an asexu-owl.

“I showed it to someone and they said ‘if you were to do more of them and sell them, I’d be happy to buy them’ so I started buying yarn and making lots of testers, and eventually put a couple of designs on Etsy,” she tells me.

Since then the owl family has grown to include a number of sexualities and identities including: bisexuowl, asexuowl, pansexuowl, arowlmantic (aromantic), polyamorous (polyamorowl?), agender owl, transgender owl, nonbinary owl, genderqueer owl, rainbowl, demisexuowl, graysexuowl.

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One of Frea’s main reasons behind creating these owls is because she knows how amazing it feels when you find something that represents you. “It’s like a code,” she says. “that’s why I was looking to include more obscure ones that people may not have heard of. The demi (demi-sexual) one is new and it’s not often included in stuff so to find something that represents them is really cool.” Soon, she will be adding a gender fluid owl and a lesbian owl, and she often gets requests from people to do owls for identities she hasn’t heard of.

“There’s so many that I don’t know about,” she reveals. “Someone contacted me asking if I do Feminamoric ones. If you say ‘I’m lesbian’ that only really works if you identify as a woman, if you’re non-binary and you love women, there’s not really a good term for it so they invented Feminamoric,” she explains. “That kind of language can be really helpful.”

She adds, “When people ask for another one I’ll try and accommodate that.” But she admits that she was faced with a dilemma when someone asked her to make a straight pride owl. “I said to them, well that would be taking the time that I could put into minority orientations…so no.”

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Frea works in admissions at the University of Nottingham and has recently completed a PhD in Linguistics at the uni, where she is also a member of the Gilbert & Sullivan society. She moved to the UK in 2011 from the Netherlands, and lived in Beeston for 5 years before moving to Dunkirk where she has been for a year. But it was Beeston’s friendly community that sparked Frea’s love for crochet up again, as she had originally learnt it from her mum as a child.

“I joined a church choir to meet people, because I knew nobody when I moved here, it was very awkward. So I joined the church choir here in Beeston St Johns, and people from there did Monday night knitting. Angie, one of the ladies from the church, helped me to learn to crochet and do a scarf. She gave me the needles and taught me how to do it, because I’d completely lost how it works.”

She started making the owls in April of this year, and sells them on Etsy at £4.50 per owl, and all the money from sales goes back into making more owls and buying yarn which she gets from the Beeston shop Yarn on Chilwell High Road. “Yarn is a lovely business and she’s really helpful and is always happy to order stuff in for me,” says Frea.

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Each owl used to take her about an hour to make, but she’s since got the timing down to half an hour to 45 minutes, and she does them in batches because it’s a lot faster. “It puts me at about £6 an hour if I was doing it all the time,” she says. “It’s not very expensive, and I know it’s good stuff, and I know I can always get it.”

In future, she wants to start making other animals to help fly the pride flag. “I really wanna do an Octopride! You can do the legs with different colours. I wanna do unicorns with different coloured hair that comes out, and bi-icorns and pan-icorns.”

I ask her if she’s ever considered having a stall at Nottinghamshire Pride, “I was considering doing it this year but obviously I’d need to make lots of them and that was just at a time when it was really busy because it’s pride time,” she says. “The plan this year is to make a load, regardless of how many of them sell or not, because it’s fun. And whatever is left at the end of the year I’ll bring to pride.”

She points out that crochet isn’t something she wants to make a career out of, it’s just for fun and is her way of helping to raise awareness and give people something cute to identify with.

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Our interview comes to a close with Frea saying “That one’s for you!” and handing me a bisexuowl, which I happily accept.

Frea’s owls are available at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/prideandpunk

Like the Facebook page for more owl-y updates: @prideandpunk

As Nature Intended

Debra Urbacz grabs her pencil and sketches the disrobed….

This issue’s article comes to you from the serene scene that is inhabited by Beeston Canal Heritage Centre. Steeped in nature, it is the perfect backdrop for the life drawing classes, that are currently running in the beautifully renovated studio room upstairs, within the old lock keeper’s cottages. I have been itching to get to one of these classes since they started three weeks ago and finally made it this week, and thought I would share the experience.  When I arrive, the room is quiet and gently lit by tiny spotlight stars. It is my first time at the class and I am more than a little apprehensive as it is a very long time since I had done any ‘real’ drawing. I felt a little under the spotlight.

However, it was a small friendly group that greeted me and I was introduced to a host of lifedrawsmiling faces. I already knew Janet who was running the class from the ABC Arts Trail and seeing her artwork displayed locally. She explained that this was an informal class, with a break in the middle for tea and cake. This and the relaxed atmosphere quickly put me at ease. I picked up my 6B pencil, and a sheet of the paper that was provided, ready for my first challenge.

I wasn’t quite prepared for how swiftly one minute speeds by when you are trying to replicate a human being on paper but my first sketch consisted of a shoulder and part of an arm. I persevered though, and by the time I got to my last sketch in the ‘quick fire round’ I had progressed to achieving a little bit more. The ten-minute sketches were better, although I seemed to do a lot more rubbing out than any of my companions. I was pleased to see that my hands were beginning to get into the groove again.

At the break, the conversation was free flowing and despite the fact we had just spent the last hour peering intensely at a naked person, there was no awkwardness at all. After all when you are so deeply immersed in nature, what could be more natural than the human form with all its graceful dips and curves? I was a little bit in awe of the model. Always a failure at musical statues myself, I had to ask how she kept her composure and held the poses for longer periods. “What do you think about, where does your head go?” I tentatively ask. Well dear reader, I am not sure what I was expecting but can tell you the answer was that this model amusingly distracts herself with hearty numbers from the Monty Python musical ‘Spamalot.’ Well why not!?

The second half of the class seemed to go much more quickly. I became thoroughly absorbed in producing at least one decent drawing and was surprised to find that I had not yet glanced at anyone else’s work, nor had they at mine. The lady next to me was using rainbow pastels, from a stash in a box near her feet, and I admired the effect she had created with the small strokes of colour. Happy to remaster the pencil I set to work drawing the prone figure on the floor, paying particular attention to posture and proportions. The extremities provided the most challenge for me and I must have drawn her hands five or six times! I spent the time I had left at the end practising drawing the model’s feet.

The end of the session was as easy as the beginning. As the final timer sounded, Janet informed us that it was the end and we packed away. I complimented my neighbour on her work and rolled mine up to pop in my bag ready for the cycle ride home. I was pleased with my efforts but relieved we did not have to share them with the rest of the group as I had done back in my college days. Instead, I wandered around the cosy space to take a closer look at the Beeston Snappers’ photography exhibition, a series of photographs which have captured what were the old cottages in their derelict state before renovation.

What they have achieved with those cottages has to be seen to be believed. Retaining many of the original features, the rooms feel bright and spacious. With a café and gift shop downstairs and plenty of outdoor space, the centre invites you to stay a while and bathe yourself in calm. Perhaps it is its proximity to the canal but the air of tranquillity will certainly be pulling me back for a visit.

The Life Drawing Classes are currently running on Wednesday evening for two hours from 7:30 pm. There is no need to book and it is just £8 per session with refreshments and art materials provided.  Contact Canalside Heritage Centre by email via their website www. canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk, on Facebook or by phone on 0115 922 1773 for information about all of their classes and events.

The Lock Keeper’s Cottages Exhibition features the work of four different local photographers, Sara Gaynor, Lynne Norker, Jenny Langran, Catherine Smith and is on display until the end of August.

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DU

Beeston street art

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Street Art has become one of the ‘sights to see’ in many European cities. With exciting colours and raw energy it has been transforming urban landscapes for decades.

Since Keith Haring’s successful attempt to commercialise art on the streets, tired architecture and boring buildings have been given the wow factor all over the world, some in incredibly creative ways. In 2014 Google launched an online street art gallery to preserve many iconic images, which demonstrates the extent to which its popularity has grown, and how it has come to be recognised as an artform.

You may remember reading on the cover of Issue 51 about the creative discussions that one group of Beestonians were involved in about creating something ‘bright and beautiful’ to enhance the look of our town. According to an update from Jeanie O’Shea, who is one of those driving the project forward, the group have now met with John Delaney who is the Broxtowe estate manager in charge of Beeston Square and the head of planning, Phil Horsefield. Both have been encouraging and keen to listen to their creative proposals.

The artwork will incorporate some of Beeston’s best known characters and symbols of its heritage

There also happens to be budget available for the project and local councillors are making positive noises in their direction too. Montana Colours in Hockley are using their connections to acquire submissions from UK and International Street Artists that will then need approval to secure the funding. It has been suggested that the artwork will incorporate some of Beeston’s best known characters and symbols of its heritage and that it will compliment as well as enhance the current surroundings.

BSA3

It has been anticipated that the artwork will adorn the wall that extends behind ‘Birds’ and will be visible by people approaching Beeston interchange via Middle Street or Station Road.  With any luck it will cause visitors, or those passing through, to avert their eyes from the concrete and mud jungle that has been left behind since the demolition of the old bus station, whilst the ‘powers that be’ drag their heels in deciding what to do with it.

If everything goes to plan we should be looking at receiving our spray-painted masterpiece as part of a week-long festival next Spring.

Just watch that space!

DU

Outside looking in

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Now if you live in Beeston, and travel up and down Chilwell High Road regularly, you might already know what I am talking about by the title alone. In one of the terraces along there, lives an inhabitant of our little town who continually treats us to a selection of stylish window displays that bring joy to the faces of many who pass by.

I have often wanted to explore who this mystery window dresser is and the reasons why they make the time to do this.

As an enthusiastic supporter of any community art project, I posted a card through the letter box to ask if they would like to chat to me about it and was thrilled when I got a response. A lady called Fran sent me a text to thank me for my kind comments and to give her a call. When I spoke to her I realised that we already knew each other, via the close community that is Beeston café culture, and we chatted for ages about many things but mostly her motivation to cheer up her little bit of Beeston.

Fran has been creating her wonderful exhibitions for over ten years now and it all started when she was working at the high street retailer, Accessorize. Often when they took down their window display the staff were left with a selection of useless but pretty objects that would gather dust in a box or get thrown away. Inspired by the impact a well-dressed window can have on passers-by, she decided that she would much prefer to take things home and create her own version of the display in her front window at home. And so it began…

She regularly receives thank you cards and messages of appreciation from local people

CB3

She finds her inspiration in many places and her magpie’s nest is full to the rafters with bright, shiny objects and other things saved for their aesthetic qualities. She tries to update the window regularly, usually in line with calendar events and the seasons and can often feel the pressure to make sure she hasn’t left a display in too long – she doesn’t want to disappoint her fan club. Fran tells me that she regularly receives thank you cards and messages of appreciation from local people and this makes it all the more worthwhile. She does it simply ‘because it makes people smile’, and by her own admission ‘keeps her out of mischief.’

Fran has a great eye for detail and her presentations have got more ambitious over the years. It is fun, and she enjoys thinking up new ideas, careful not to replicate any she has done previously. What I like about them is the connection with local people that Fran is making with these displays, and it goes deeper than just making someone’s day. She is investing in her community, showing a sense of pride in where she lives and is more than happy to hear that she is beginning to inspire others to do the same.

And it was simply this that prompted me to publicly applaud the efforts of this dedicated decorator, who tirelessly creates these scenes for others to enjoy. Fran, we think you are awesome!

I wonder what will she do next…?

Beeston is full to the brim with creativity if you look for it.

DU

Street Art: Time to Act!

In the current issue of the Beestonian, we have an article about the potential street art project to lift up the tired dull mess that is Beeston Interchange / Birds wall. We can now tell you that the project has taken a huge step forward…

Beeston Square’s old dark walls (down Station Road and adjacent to Beeston Centre’s tram interchange) badly need an aesthetic lift.  We are planning a potential Street Art Festival for 2018 – a community regeneration project.

Broxtowe Council have an ‘art budget’ set aside which is £8k (subject to committee approval).  Artists are now invited to submit their work – the designs will ultimately be chosen by the council and its planning department but will be shown to the public who should have some say.

To give yourself the best chance of being chosen for this paid commission we suggest your designs are naturalist rather than brutalist.  It may also be advantageous to perhaps incorporate Beeston and Chilwell’s heritage and character somehow:

This Blue Plaque booklet is very useful – illustrating the area’s history and personalities https://beestoncivicsociety.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/blue-plaques-of-beeston-chilwell-broxtowe-2017.pdf

We have also put together a Dropbox folder of images/ideas to help inspire; including pictures of the buildings that were demolished for the current 1960s Square we are trying to improve, and more famous residents not featured in the Blue Plaque booklet. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ecifyn29eros6z9/AAC6d6ttJN-u136ZsiayHAIPa?dl=0

Please do submit your designs to BeestonStreetArt@gmail.com by 31/8/17 if you would like to take part and join our Facebook group ‘Beeston Street Art Festival’ to stay in touch.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/178727832631780/

Best of luck!

Wall adjacent to Beeston Tram Stop

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