The Beestonian is: Debra Urbacz – Creative Enthusiast and Editor

If you’ve ever found a butterfly folded from a bus ticket or receipt, the chances are it was probably made by Debra. 

Partly because she likes to spread joy and partly because she’s like some ‘uber-efficient hippy’ who loves to make people smile and who can’t actually sit still unless she’s sewing, doing origami and writing all at the same time with a glass of wine in hand.  Debra came to Beeston to study but now supports creative people and bridges the gap between artful procrastination and showcasing local talent.  She joined the Beestonian team eighteen months ago and this is mainly what she writes about.

DU

ABC Art Trail: Celebrating Creativity in Beeston, Attenborough and Chilwell

This weekend the ABC Art Trail takes place in venues across Beeston, Attenborough and Chilwell, showcasing the work of 26 artists who live locally.

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The ABC Arts trail is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a trail of artistic works by creative people who are all part of our community and living in Beeston, Attenborough and Chilwell.

This year there are 26 artists taking place, with their work being displayed in 11 venues. They include painters, textile artists, a potter, glass artists and jewellery designers. This is a great chance to discover new artists and see for yourself the amount of creativity that this town and surrounding area can hold.

The trail is free to take part in, and will be happening across Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of June, starting at 11am through to 6pm on both days. They’ve got a map pinpointing all the venue locations, which can be visited in any order, so you can plan the route that works best for you. Find the map here.

They include places like independent studios, houses, local schools and shops. Specific venues taking part are Beeston Dental Practice, Red Lion Pottery and Meadow Lane Infant School.

Painting of Beeston Lock by Janet Barnes
Artwork by Janet Barnes (Canalside Art)

The participating artists will be present at each venue with examples of their work available to purchase. So as well as discovering more art, you might end up going home with some!

Our Editor-in-Chief, Matt Turpin, will be taking part in the trial and visiting each venue, where he will be collecting pieces of artwork. These pieces will be individual letters made from a variety of art forms, and once put together they will spell ‘ABC ART TRAIL’ (11 letters for the 11 venues).

Matt says: “I got a G at GCSE Art, a grade that doesn’t even exist any longer. But while I may not be the best at making art, I’ve always enjoyed others’ work. Beeston is a great place for this, a hive of creative activity right across the area. I’m hugely looking forward to visiting all the venues and meeting those talented people who make this town such a treat for art lovers.”

This event is yet another example of why Beeston and the surrounding areas are such hubs of creativity. It’s also a way for people to show their support not only for the artists themselves but for the community as a whole. We’re all about supporting local businesses, but this is a way to appreciate individuals in their creative endeavours. The ABC Art Trail itself is supported by businesses such as: The White Lion (where they have their meetings), Yarn, Charlie Foggs, Artworks and Cycle Inn, to name a few.

Rita Mitchell
Artwork by Rita Mitchell

Plenty of their work features the local area, such as paintings of well-known places, meaning that their art is truly personal, both from their perspective as artist, and the people who support them by buying their work or enquiring about commissions.

For more information, visit their website: ABC Art Trail

You can also like them on Facebook @abcarttrail, and register your attendance via their event page.

JM

 

Creative Beeston: The Remarkable Recycling Gala

The Green Scene

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Spring arrived this week with a sprinkle of vibrant yellow, and the blossoming forsythias appeared gilded in the welcome sunshine. Ah…a hint of warmth in the air, the promise of lighter evenings and Sunday walks without the need for several layers of outer garments. Spring is traditionally a time for renewed energy and colour and we are greeting it with open arms after the cruel icy blasts from previous weeks.

It was this idea of new beginnings and the recycling that occurs in nature that reminded me of a fantastic creative event that is happening this summer. A rich mix of recycled art and craft and recycling initiatives which highlights the issues surrounding waste, The Remarkable Recycling Gala is uprooting itself from where it was originally planted as part of Sherwood Art Week and hopes to spread the word to a wider audience in its fifth year.

This year there will be over twenty stalls dedicated to skillfully recycled products which range from sea glass jewellery to portraits of famous icons made entirely from recycled drinks cans

Originally held at Sherwood Community Centre, you won’t be surprised to hear that they have chosen Beeston, which already has an amazing art scene, as the perfect place to plant this annual event for 2018. Beeston also has a keen eye on environmental issues with Greening Beeston, The Canalside Heritage Centre and We Dig NG9 being just some of the active groups that come to mind.   Building on the current momentum around zero waste emphasised by BBCs Blue Planet, the event was conceptualised by Greg Hewitt and came about through his passion for environmental activism and concerns about waste and consumerism.

The gala has got people talking about and acting on the issues of waste and recycling in a fun and enjoyable way and those involved are delighted that Middle Street Resource Centre accepted Greg’s proposal to hold it at their creative community space. Not only does MSRC have space inside and outside to accommodate the array of craft stalls, art exhibits, creative workshops, performances and information stands, it is an inclusive centre which offers a wide range of courses and activities for the whole community which fits in well with the gala’s ethos.

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As in previous years, stallholders from Nottingham and the surrounding areas were invited to apply to sell their work at the gala, and this year there will be over twenty stalls dedicated to skillfully recycled products which range from sea glass jewellery to portraits of famous icons made entirely from recycled drinks cans. Since the beginning The Remarkable Recycling Gala has received support from more commercial local recyclers such as Paguro and Sarah Turner- Eco Art and Design – you might have seen some of Sarah’s work at Nottingham’s Light Night event earlier in the year.

Recycling is a great way to make art that doesn’t impact on our environment

A change of location has attracted newcomers to gala, which Greg is also pleased about as this not only brings fresh ideas to the event but also suggests that both aesthetic and practical recycling is on the rise. As well as inspiration from the stallholders, visitor to the gala will also be treated to exhibits from recycled sculptor Michele Reader and workshops where they can create their own recycled art or craft item, many of which are free of charge. There is always entertainment, in the form of spoken word or song and this year Greg is hoping to create a mini cinema experience! If we are lucky, they might give Beestonia The Movie an overdue airing.

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In a bid to promote ‘make do and mend’ culture that also contributes greatly to the preservation of our planet, Nottingham Fixers will be bringing along their popular Repair Café which they launched at last year’s gala and provides the opportunity for people to have items repaired rather than thrown away, thus minimising waste. Another non-profit organisation, Playworks who provide resources like the Scrapstore and whose focus it is to improve play experiences for children and young people in Nottingham will also be there on the day to promote and involve people in their valuable services.

You will be astonished by the sheer imagination and talent that goes into each carefully crafted piece on show at the gala. Simple household objects such as tin cans and jam jars are made into pretty tea lights, tax discs and old postage stamps recycled into beautiful pieces of artwork, broken skateboard wood is reclaimed to make bottle openers and old books into clocks. The finish on these individual items is often so good that it is difficult to tell what they used to be but the message is clear, recycling is a great way to make art that doesn’t impact on our environment and that art only serves to enhance our environment.

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The Remarkable Recycling Gala is a family event, with making activities aimed at children and adults, which visitors in the past have described as ‘inspiring’ and ‘enjoyable’ and that offer ‘new recycling ideas.’  The workshops use recycled or waste materials to demonstrate how versatile recycled resources can be and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is an all-day event with all profits going to Middle Street in support of the valuable work they do for the community. There will be entertainment throughout the day and Middle Street will be providing the food and refreshments.

In a constantly evolving town like ours it’s really exciting that this event is bringing a fresh approach to the craft revolution and I am sure Beeston, with it’s abundance of green spaces and conservation areas will play the perfect host.

www.facebook.com/RemarkableRecyclingGala

www.remarkablerecyclinggala.weebly.com

DU

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

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