Featured Artist – Connor Hattamsworth (Mountain Man Draws)

With an extensive range of subjects, so meticulously detailed, it might surprise you to know that all of Connor’s early illustrations were drawn by hand, which is a method he still favours. It’s pretty time consuming but mindful at the same time. He started off in pencil or pen then scanned his work into an old Mac Pro, using Photoshop and sometimes Illustrator to refine the image. More recently he has been transitioning to using an iPad so most of his current work is now produced digitally, which allows Connor to complete his commercially sold work more quickly and lends itself better to large print runs like his popular greetings card range. He is keen to maintain control over the process though, so is still printing to order at his home studio on the university side of Beeston. He particularly appreciates choosing the paper for his prints.

I first discovered Connor’s work a couple of years ago but he tells me that his drawing style has been developed over a number of years. He loved art growing up in Coventry, and at school was incredibly lucky to have access to graphic design and ceramic lessons as well as classic drawing and painting. This lead him to undertake a one-year Foundation Art Degree in nearby Leamington which he especially enjoyed. He saw this experience as ‘a great leveller’ – whatever their skill or ability everyone has to start at the same point and undertake the experimental and practice drawing activities before refining their individual style.

His early work draws a lot on nature and mentions his bear illustration as one of his favourites. Living on the edge of the urban landscape of Coventry gave him access to the countryside and opportunities to hang out with his friends, camping in woodlands and temporarily experiencing the ‘mountain man’ lifestyle. Whenever one of the group would undertake some kind of ‘basic survival’ activity the phrase ‘ mountain man makes fire’ or ‘mountain man cooks’ was a familiar call. This in fact where the name ‘Mountain Man Draws’ originates.

It took a few years and a couple of direction changes for Connor to become the successful illustrator that he is today. The art history course at Nottingham University was shelved simply because it wasn’t a good fit but also he was starting to think about how he could combine his creative imagination with a job that would pay the bills. He made the switch to an education degree at Trent. The Primary Ed course is pretty intense and didn’t leave much time for anything else, consequently, Connor began to realise how vital his art was to his well-being and executed another U-turn. He finished the course a year early, having made the decision that teaching wasn’t working for him either, and hasn’t looked back since.

One of Connor’s pieces of work.

2019 was a pivotal year for Connor. It was the year he identifies as one of ‘opportunities and growth.’ He stopped seeing illustration as a creative hobby and began to view it as something he could make into a fully-fledged business. Kicking off the year with an exhibition of his nature drawings at Pepper Rocks in February, standing at a number of craft fairs with his wife Nic, and expanding his range of stockists out of Nottingham and as far as Devizes he was encouraged by the response to his work. Nic supports the business with her social media skills and selling at markets, which Connor sees as greatly instrumental to his success. He has allowed the business to grow organically and doesn’t want to become a servant to social media – maintaining his authenticity is a key focus.

When I talk to Connor about his work, he is both exacting and modest. He knows what he is good at but he doesn’t like to shout about it. He loves ‘bikes, woodwork, nature, dogs, coffee, beer and of course drawing’ which happen to some of my favourite things too. He also appears to have a soft spot for Bill Murray, which I fully endorse! The man who has a passion for mountains also values his place in his community. In among the easy conversation we are having on the steps at Lakeside he tells me about his inspirations and how he doesn’t feel that being an illustrator is a ‘real job’ – it feels too easy! He is enthused by the support for his art and clearly finds a great deal of joy in what he does. This is evident in his attention to detail. There is something about the permanence of pen that encourages him to favour it as a medium, once the mark is made it is committed forever.

The pandemic has been a productive time for the mountain man, with his mountain woman working from home in her role as advisor for the IntoUniversity programme.  Connor embraced the new pattern of life. Being motivated to work in the morning leaves time for a wander to the post box with orders in the afternoon, building fresh air and exercise into the working day. Although there is a fair bit of commission work, most of his sales are acquired through Etsy.

It is through Etsy that Connor connected with the man who commissioned him to illustrate his latest book. A gentleman in his late 80s, who writes books about what he is really interested in, has provided another interesting opportunity for Mountain Man to draw. Although nature has been a constant subject, you will also find playful illustrations of film stars, dinosaurs and regional maps when you browse Etsy or his social media feeds. I am particularly taken with the recent illustrations for an upcoming children’s book, which from what I can see will be pretty magical.

You can browse Connor’s range of illustrations on his website MountainManDraws.com and catch him in person at the new White Rose (or any charity shop really), The Bean, the Crow Inn or Lagan.


Difficult roads, beautiful destinations

(noun) an unusual, exciting or daring experience, journey or series of events.

In the spirit of the approaching summer and Covid restrictions easing, stretching our legs further afield or planning a little holiday may be at the forefront of our minds. A longing to escape the confines of the borough will have driven some of us to scrutinise the new ‘rules’ and look at what kind of accommodation will be open to use should we wish to plan our escape. Some would say that this ‘lockdown’ has been a long trek.

One of the easiest ways to get away and stay Covid safe is to go camping. Now it might still be a little chilly for some of you to consider getting your tent out, but if you own a caravan or campervan then you are likely to be able to load it up with all the essentials and motor off somewhere this summer. Campervans are possibly the greatest, and coolest, invention to date. A compact home on wheels, they can take you anywhere, plus they allow you to access all basic amenities with minimal set-up on arrival. Not only that, they are great fun!

It was one local couple’s love of the campervan lifestyle that lead to a delightful creative project that captured our imagination for this issue of the Beestonian. James and Alice Kellett embarked on their children’s book almost five years ago. ‘Dub! A Campervan Adventure’ was written by James and Illustrated by Alice, who has a little bit of an obsession with the VW campervan and left behind a career in teaching to pursue her dream of becoming an artist – mainly painting the classic VW split screen campervan.

James started the story, asking Alice to illustrate it, knowing that Alice’s young daughter Isla would love it. Shortly after getting together, Alice started her business Pretty Splitty and James was kept busy running Froth at Chilwell’s Creative Corner, which later became known as Canvas & Coffee. Getting married, buying their first campervan and then having their first child meant that Alice didn’t get much spare time to work on the illustrations for Dub, and it wasn’t until the national lockdown last spring that Alice returned to them. With the coffee shop closed and Alice heavily pregnant with their second child, having the book to work on was a real positive focus.

The book

Alice completed the illustrations in May and their son was born shortly after. The book still needed to be digitised, layout defined, a cover added, and edits completed before it was ready for publishing. The couple self-published, and due to the second lockdown, they were able to get off to print ready for release in December 2020. Since then Dub! has been shipped to Japan, Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain, Sweden and all over the UK.

Isla is the ‘baby’ at the front of the book amusing herself with the jangly keys when Dub becomes detached and tumbles into the gutter. He appears to have been woken from a slumber by the fall, and free from the chains of the keyring he embarks on his own adventures. The call of the open road beckons but it was a lonely life for Dub. He tries to make friends and meets an assortment of characters along the way with humorous but also disastrous consequences.

Reflecting on his less than perfect adventures, he is nevertheless filled with an air of contentment, a poetic parallel for those of us who may be looking back over the past year remembering the challenges with an air of relief, reassured that somehow we got through it. Sometimes the journeys we find ourselves on are less than smooth, but we learn from them and we grow. And judging by the final image in the book, Dub is definitely a lot surer of himself than he was when he first started his journey! These adventures end with him basking on a sun-baked beach and giving us a cheeky wink.

James enthused about how well the book has been received: “We’ve absolutely loved receiving feedback from the little ones who have read our book. To think that there are Dub books all over the world, potentially being enjoyed at any moment is a really cool thought. We had a friend who brought their little boy over this week and he saw our campervan on our drive he said “look Mum it’s Dub!”, which was amazing! Our lives have been so full-on during lockdown looking after our children and home-schooling that releasing the book feels like a distant memory at times, so whenever we get a bit of feedback it makes our day.”

The book is gorgeous. A great introduction to Dub and so well written and illustrated.’ (Paul) ‘My son loves it and asked me to read to him 3 times when we got it.’ (Emma)
Work has already started on Dub’s next adventure, though James realises that finding time in their busy life will be a challenge. Nevertheless, he is really looking forward to his coffee shop reopening, seeing his customers again and their reactions to Dub, which will also be on sale as well as their famous waffles!

Click here for the Canvas & Coffee website
The book can also be purchased here



Featured Artist – Anjana Cawdell

You might recognise Anjana’s delightful impressionistic work from local craft events and the annual
ABC Art Trail, where she has become a regular exhibitor. Summoning up the courage to apply for a
stall at a small craft market in the town hall, she was so excited when she sold her first painting. This
gave Anjana the push she needed to join the ABC Art Trail at the end of May 2015 and then exhibit
for the I Love Beeston art trail in August 2015, organised by fellow artist Helen Stevenson. She was
pleased with how her watercolours glowed ethereally from the blank walls of Cheryl’s Curtains at
the bottom of Chilwell Road, and was delighted by the way local businesses connected with artists in
the community, generating interest in locally produced art.

It was as a child that Anjana first experienced and enjoyed painting with watercolours, but she didn’t
really develop her style until after her children were born and she joined a watercolour class at
Artworks on Chilwell Road, just over ten years ago. She recalls the instructor Rob Sharple’s
‘incredible loose style’ and how she quickly she became hooked on this form of expression.
Eventually this would inspire her to run her own workshops, something she has really missed
delivering this past year. She enjoys sharing her passion for painting with others and the social
connections she has made through her art.

Anjana attributes her success with watercolours as patience, practice and being in just the right
frame of mind when she sits down to paint. She favours a relaxed style where she can achieve a
mindful state and really enjoy the positive effects of the process. She recognises that painting in
watercolours can be frustrating, the consistency of the paint has to be spot on for the desired
outcome and overworking a piece is something she tries to avoid – I admire the way that she creates
such detail with minimal marks.

With Attenborough Nature Reserve on the doorstep, Anjana is never short of influences and
attributes her love of the natural world to time spent living in Kalyani, a very green suburban town of
West Bengal and visiting her dad’s village home. He loved nature and would continually reference
the names of plants and wildlife as she played and took walks around the local area – much to young
Anjana’s annoyance! However, his passions definitely rubbed off on her and she looks back on these
memories with great fondness. Later when they moved to Kolkata her dad facilitated the planting of
trees at every available opportunity, to supplement the sparser green spaces.

Although she didn’t appreciate it as a child, a respect for flora and fauna and the wildlife that
inhabits it was ‘sown in’ her and she is now realising the impact this has had on her, especially during
the pandemic. Nature is such a relief when you are confined to your home, you really do appreciate
its presence again when you can go out and explore. She identifies the pull being the way nature is
constant, it changes everyday and it give us hope. If ever she was feeling low, Anjana would find
solace by walking in the nature reserve and would always return home feeling better.

With her two children at home for much of the past year, Anjana has struggled to find time and
space to paint but the creativity hasn’t stopped altogether. She is using this time for research,
making detailed sketches that will inform future work and this has been very satisfying. She has
recently taken up running, another excuse to get outside and immerse herself in nature. Anjana
enjoys the way that flowers mark the changing of the seasons. There is beauty in every stage, from
first buds to the dried seed heads. She recalls fondly, “my dad used to buy so many flowers we used
to get fed up of arranging them, ‘more flowers!’ my mum would exclaim." And with a keen gardener
for a husband Anjana has plenty of subject matter close to hand.

She is so inspired by nature’s allure, almost sighing when she describes the sight of ‘sunlight falling
on tree trunks and light filtering through leaves.’ It is those sensory experiences, moments of calm,
and snapshots of her surroundings that truly sparks her imagination. Birds, bees and butterflies have
also become part of her growing repertoire and Anjana believes it is important to paint what you
like. If your soul doesn’t connect with what you see, then “your best work doesn’t come out.” She
doesn’t allow herself to think commercially and is always really flattered when people are
complimentary about her work, even more so when they want to own it. She tells me that she is
never quite happy with where she is at artistically, “the goal keeps moving, but that’s how you

She has been really grateful for all the support she has been shown via social media and sales
through the website, it really has been a tonic in amongst all the ‘doom and gloom.’



Mellow Yellow

I have been watching with great interest since the beginning of October, the renovations at 42 Chilwell Road. Ever since my childhood when dad used to take me onto building sites (his job was to lay the foundations), I have been fascinated by how buildings are constructed.

Quite recently a general store, this particular ensemble of bricks and mortar had been empty and neglected for quite some time, but its sturdy Edwardian exterior held the promise of another reincarnation. I was particularly excited when I passed by mid-October and noticed that the original signage, on the top part of the large front window, had been uncovered – the past was being slowly revealed. I found myself looking for excuses to walk past just to keep an eye on progress.

By the end of November, the rotten window frames had been replaced and the surrounding brickwork repaired. More renovations, including the installation of a fire escape, which could have had embarrassing consequences – they knocked through to the neighbouring pharmacy’s upstairs toilet! Luckily nobody was sitting on it at the time, there might have been some very red faces.

Things were really taking shape at the end of December. New pipework, rewiring, new ceiling, concrete floor and the framework for shelving went in. The beginnings of Yellow Wood Café were in place. Cheered at the thought of Beeston’s burgeoning independent café scene gaining a new venue,  I felt it was time to catch up with its creator to hear all about future plans.

It’s Saturday afternoon and the Farmer’s Market is ‘safely’ bustling in the square, cheerfully masking the closed and empty businesses. There is a lightness in my tread as I make my way down the High Road to the corner of Colin Street and knock eagerly on the whited-out glass door, delighted to be getting the opportunity to see what was going on inside. Iain greeted me warmly and invited me to look around. There had been significant work done on the ground floor and I could see the future of this room, full of people enjoying coffee and each other’s company to the backdrop of a busy street scene.

Iain got the keys in August but started the project and negotiations back in March 2020, just as it became apparent that we were in the throes of a pandemic. Not everyone was as enthusiastic about his vision, nevertheless, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Ever since he was fifteen, Iain had a passion for cooking and felt this was something he would enjoy doing for a living. Instead, he studied engineering and forged a successful career as a sound engineer at one point working at the BBC as a radio engineer and more recently as an associate professor in acoustics at Nottingham University.

Taking voluntary redundancy in June left Iain with new options to explore, and just like Robert Frost in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, Iain knew that he had to choose the right path thus enabling his teenage dream to materialise. This poem resonated with Iain and the ‘yellow wood’ came to symbolise the community café space that Iain was keen to create – no regrets, no looking back just enjoying the journey.

Iain has done much of the restoration work himself. He talks me through this with all the enthusiasm and trepidation of a man who knows he has taken on a huge project but is driven by a desire to restore and expand on the building’s former glory. He talks me through some of the horrors he has discovered dismantling the modern fascia and signage revealing the rotten lintels, and of course the most precious of all the things he has been working hard to preserve, those fabulously authentic windows! There have been a few tense moments, but Iain tells me that working with an enthusiastic local builder helped to reassure him that they were in good hands and with someone who really appreciated the attention to detail that was required.

Cornish-born but with much of his early life spent growing up in Yorkshire, Iain has lived and worked in Beeston for over twenty years now and resides in one of the network of terraced streets that have been part of Beeston’s heritage since the 1800s. An all-absorbing career, raising a family and recent ill-health left him feeling quite detached from his local community and this is definitely something he would love to remedy – also something we both recognised as incredibly important in light of recent events.

As we walk around the shell of the old shop (at a safe distance of course), Iain talks enthusiastically about his plans to integrate his love of good honest food and fresh coffee with his passion for music, one he shares with his wife Kay. There is ample space over the three floors to provide music and ‘soul food’ to customers, bookable rooms that can be used for study or work and space for Kay to operate a counselling service. A definite feel-good space, Iain smiles as he describes the feeling he gets as he arrives at the shop to work in the mornings. Fortified with fresh coffee, the radio and the morning sun streaming through the windowed frontage, he approaches each task with care and curiosity – weighing up what will work best in each room and how it will eventually look. It has definitely been an antidote to the doom and gloom in the news.

With all the major wiring work and fire regulations adhered to, apart from the spiral staircase fire escape from the first floor out to the garden terrace at the back, Iain is hoping to be open for business by the end of April.

To accompany Iain on his renovation journey, follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Visit their website here.


Small is beautiful

Growing up in a village in Derbyshire, we only had one local grocers, a tiny post office that never seemed to be open, and a butcher’s van that used to announce itself with a resounding ‘moo’ just before Saturday tea-time. This prompted a queue of 70s housewives clutching their clasp purses under one armpit, and often a wriggling child under the other.

As well as the family-run grocers, down on the main road through Denby, there was a curious little wooden construction we called ‘the paper shop.’ A small painted shack, about six foot by eight, it had floorspace for three customers at most, plus a lovely woman called Brenda who resided behind the counter in her thick fluffy cardi. Reminiscent of The Cabin on Coronation Street, the walls festooned with sweets, cigarettes, newspapers, magazines and even the window was used to display a handful of small gifts and toys. In the winter months, the cramped space was heady with Calor gas fumes and there was always tinsel at Christmas.

Brenda lived on one of the council houses in our village and had a son around my mum’s age, they had gone to school together. As a consequence, they had a lot of common threads and she always seemed pleased to see us. Brenda was one of those kind ladies with curly brown hair and crinkles at the corner of her eyes when she smiled, and she seemed to smile a lot. She knew everyone in the village and always made a fuss of the children, she was the sort of woman that would just pop round with a present for the new baby in a family– my brother being one of the recipients eventually.

Call me sentimental, but I missed all those personal shopping experiences in the 90s when coincidentally I worked in a large city shopping centre. By then spending money was reduced to an EPOS transaction that was over in seconds and sales assistants began to recite from a script. These days you don’t even have to have any kind of conversation in some of the larger shops, you can literally serve yourself! My childhood experiences might be one of the reasons why I still favour the personal touch when I part with my cash and one of the reasons I enjoy living in a town like Beeston.

We have our fair share of self-supporting businesses in Beeston, some well-established like Hicklings, the friendly face of DIY, and Fred Hallam who have held their own against the supermarket chains. Chatting with friends, one tells me that the staff in Hallams have always helped her little girl buy strawberries on her own since she was three. She loves that they “put the receipt and change in her little hand.” We discussed how well Hallam’s readjusted to serve its community at the start of ‘lockdown’ another friend pointed out the locally grown produce they stock. Craig Dawson’s Family Butchers are also more than happy to advise you how to cook any of the meat you buy and are never phased when you might ask for ‘something cheap that you can slow cook.’ And then there are the perks – “Market stalls sometimes knock a bit off when you are a regular and they recognise your face.”

It is those personal touches that make the difference, and the genuine appreciation shown for your custom. Especially at the moment, you can see the joy in the faces of any local independent business owner that you give the opportunity to serve you. And this is because it IS personal to them. They have genuinely put all of their energy, time and their often their savings into creating their unique businesses because they are truly passionate about them. More than just a job, their involvement can be round the clock, constantly working to improve on what they can offer. In the same way that an independent relies on the support from their community, they also recognise the importance of supporting other local businesses.

Sure, it’s been a really tough year for all business, but the retail giants will probably survive by making a few cuts here and there, and I can imagine that online retailers like Amazon have actually thrived due to the pandemic. So it is vital that we help those gift shops, coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants, jewellers, newsagents and corner shops that make our town the vibrant and gloriously diverse place that it is. If they have had to close their doors for now, get in touch and shop online. Many of them have adapted well to making deliveries, you can even order your festive cocktails from the Berliner! Let’s try and make sure all of our independents are still here when we get to the other side – our local economy depends on it.

By shopping locally we are also less likely to spend money on fuel, wasting time in traffic and trying to find space in car parks. We can avoid getting caught up in the frenzied Christmas shopping experience. It might even allow us to slow down and live in the moment, appreciating the little things that make our festive season so special.

You can see a selection of what Beeston has to offer on the Creative Beeston Facebook page and find a huge selection of local makers on the Made in Beeston page.

Shop small, for all!


Creative champions!

Just before lockdown, the ABC Art Trail were preparing to launch their publicity for the 2020 Art Trail, we shared their Primary School Art Competition giving prizes for both Key Stage 1 and 2 inviting all schools in Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell to take part. They gave the children a loose title ‘Where I Live.’

The organisers were ‘overwhelmed with the tremendous response’ and the competition closed on 29 February. Entries were in their hundreds and they were brilliant! It took many months of socially distanced organisation but we are happy to inform you that judging was able to take place and we can now share with you the winners!

As the majority of the ABCAT sponsors allowed them to keep their support money the winners will be receiving a prize. All winning entries went on display as part of an exhibition
at Canalside Heritage Centre on Monday 2nd November 2020.

Many thanks to the ABCAT organisers for sending us the photographs of the children’s wonderful artwork. Don’t forget to congratulate them when you see them.

Enjoy the full gallery of work here


Sprucing things up

If you are one of those people that have spent far too much time in their home over the past six months, then you might be in need of the services of local Interior Designer Sarah Kirkby. Her domestic interiors service “Spruce Interiors” offers a range of services from a single room revamp to a full home renovation and is a self-confessed colour addict!

After completing her BA in Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University, Sarah secured herself a job at Dulux as an Interior Designer. She not only does the initial colour consultation and manages the project, but she also works alongside the client to ensure they get exactly the look they want, and this usually starts with her asking what colours inspire them.  When I popped into her new shop at 108 Chilwell High Road, Sarah was busy working on ‘kitchen CAD plans’ and the shop was being expertly managed by a friendly intern, Faaria who was happy to show me around.

Conveniently situated at Chilwell Road tram stop, with its show-stopping signage and slatted circular window display, it’s hard to resist stopping to take a peek through the wooden aperture at the tropical richness within. Immediately I spot a familiar grey linen shade of one of Beeston designer Mark Lowe’s table lamps, flanked by a luscious bright green fern, and am enticed inside. Though not a large space, there are plenty of inspiring things to feast your Ikea weary eyes on. It’s small but perfectly dressed.

From unique one-off lighting and furniture pieces to small ranges of hand-printed artwork goodies, the shop has been selectively stocked to its best advantage. Simple wood and metal racking houses the array of sculptural plants, soft coral walls show off a row of Sarah’s solid printed wooden clocks and the delicate framed screen prints of Nottingham based illustrator Laurie Hastings. As I bend low to study the plant selection I catch the musk of sandalwood from the shelf above and notice an attractive row of brown glass scented soy candles from PF Candle Co.

Behind the bespoke wooden counter are slim shelves busy with colourful tiles of all patterns, shapes and sizes – we are entering the design part of the shop that leads onto the design office at the back. There is more to this compact shopfront than meets the eye. As Faaria leads me to the back room I am impressed how the narrow space has been transformed into a fully fitted kitchen, a showcase of Sarah’s design ideas and where some of the initial kitchen design consultations take place.

“A new venture at such a time takes a certain amount of courage and self-belief and Sarah has both in large amounts.”

When I met up with Sarah later in the week, she told me that she bought the building at auction on April 1st. The realisation of how much renovation work was needed momentarily filled her with apprehension. With help from her Dad, local Beeston based joiner James Crawford from Appletree Joinery, and her helpful plasterer Nick Garbutt they transformed the ex-hairdresser’s salon into a stylish space that could accommodate all of its requirements. She talked me through the process as we walked through to the workshop at the back, where creative evidence of previous products sat on shelves and benches.

A new venture at such a time takes a certain amount of courage and self-belief and Sarah has both in large amounts. We discussed how lockdown, though putting all of her interior design projects in suspension, gave her the time to devote to moving the contents of her rented studio near Sneinton Market to her newly acquired building. Redeveloping the rooms to suit her plans for the place gave her something purposeful to do, but she says it also felt very strange to be in a new neighbourhood at such a surreal time. 

Having been based at the other side of the city, Sarah wasn’t familiar with what Beeston had to offer until the building came up at auction, but what little she saw she liked. Slotting her design business into a street that is now home to many creative independents, the location felt right. And although the bulk of her services will remain focused on interior design, Sarah’s commitment to design and supporting some of the Notts & Leicester based artists and makers she has met along the way meant the shop and business has been able to evolve. As a consequence, she has made her business more customer-facing now, and as soon as people step inside the shop they get a flavour of Sarah’s style. Her goal is to make interior design accessible to all.

During her art degree, Sarah developed her love for wood and specialised in screen-printing her designs on furniture and other wooden objects. The clocks, coasters and furniture in the window are all examples of products she has made over the years merging surface design and colour, with form and shape.

She explains how the aperture window was conceptualised, first as a way of addressing the gaping space that felt intense in full-sun and then as a way to recycle palette wood. She abandoned the poor quality wooden slats full of unwieldy nails in favour of lengths of stained construction timber, producing the perfectly shaped circle within a slatted divider. 

Why not pop down and have a nosy!

Visit: https://www.spruceinteriors.co.uk/


Flippin’ Cheeky!

The cheekiest street food cart that you might have seen out and about this summer is the cheery creation of George, who is also a little bit cheeky.

He doesn’t think he has ever met anyone who doesn’t like pancakes and decided that 2020 was the year he introduced mini Dutch pancakes to the Nottingham public, who like the rest of the UK at the moment, could do with something to make them smile.

Made with buckwheat, flour, yeast, milk and eggs poffertjes are perfect plain but can also be enhanced with the addition of appetising sweet or savoury cheese toppings. Served warm, with just a sprinkle of icing sugar and cinnamon they are a tasty and wholesome treat, but with strawberries and chocolate, they are divine. Gluten-free options are available now too, and with outdoor dining the easier option at the moment they are great snacks to catch while you are on the go.

When I cycled over to the Sunday market a couple of weeks ago, the sun was already overhead warming the happy chattering queues of people waiting eagerly at the selection of food carts.

My goal was a late breakfast snack, a deliciously filling and sweet Sunday treat, I had heard that a new stand called Cheeky Pancakes would be there so looked out for the sunny marquee with the happy pancake logo I had seen somewhere on Facebook.

It wasn’t hard to spot over in the corner, citrus orange with a honey yellow cart and the aroma of warm batter floating over the heads of the people in line. Intrigued I joined the back of the line and pondered my topping and sauce choices, my belly growling with anticipation as I got closer to the front.

I chose the chocolate and banana option and wasn’t disappointed. Fresh and filling, those ten little poffertjes might not look much, but they satisfied my hunger. For those with a bigger appetite, I can recommend getting yourself an extra portion, it can help with indecision too – so many delicious toppings!

You can grab your tray of Cheeky Pancakes from George’s ‘cheeky chariot’ at a variety of venues around Nottingham. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or check out his website for dates and specific locations. Cheeky Pancakes are also available to hire for private functions and corporate events.

Visit Cheeky Pancakes website here or email: contactcheekypancakes@gmail.com


Meet the ABCAT artists

In the latest issue, Debra Urbacz spoke to those involved in the ABCAT art trail which started in 2011 as part of Open Studios Notts.

 Rita Mitchell (the founder)

“At the beginning of lockdown, I started this painting which had been on my mind for some time.  It is the third of a series of interiors, initially inspired by Vermeer and his use of light.  The adrenaline rush of a new painting helped to push away, for a few hours, the fears and sadness brought about by the daily news. Each day I could ‘go to work’, shut the studio door and gradually transform a blank canvas into ‘The Bar.’ I published a blog of the process as a spur to keep going and to share my painting journey.”

View Rita’s work here

Adrian Pearson

“It starts with a love for good design, be it typographic, furniture, whatever it is, it needs to be well considered and executed beautifully, ‘if you’re going to do it, do it well or not at all,  I guess could be my mantra.

“Being an Artist, Designer and Signpainter, my work in the main has commercial applications, together with some artworks for the home being installed as statement pieces.

“These vary through the nature of my profession from painted and gilded wooden panels to verre eglomise, (an age-old practice where the artist’s paints and gilds in reverse on glass).

“The last week in May I was kept busy painting a Mural for Tobi Frames in Long Eaton, all designed and painted by myself, traditionally, without the use of design software. This year was to be my first ABC Art Trail.”

 Sara Gaynor Visual Artist

“I’m a visual artist working in the medium of experimental photography and an Associate Member of Backlit Gallery and studios in Nottingham. I have been a participating artist on the trail since 2016. During Lockdown I have created a new unexpected body of photographs titled ‘Searching for light through the Darkness,’ exploring newly discovered, hidden and rekindled spaces, on my daily cycle rides within a 2 – 25-mile radius. I have also been experimenting with found nature in my outdoor space  – converging analogue and digital methods to create new artwork – the image ‘Cornucopia’ is a sample of the new photographs created from this experimentation. I am exhibiting my photographs from the Global Sistaz United Project in a virtual exhibition through City Arts Nottingham as part of Refugee Week in mid-June. I have also been busy hosting weekly photography sessions through zoom to our collective, Beeston Snappers.”

Tony Moss

Tony is a mature Fine Arts graduate and his art references modernist architecture in his own signature style.

It would have been his second year on the Art Trail and is very disappointed that it didn’t take place, as his first experience of it in 2019 was both enjoyable and successful.  He says that ironically the lockdown has been a constructive period for him, as it has concentrated his attention on a Project that started in the autumn of 2019. Basically, he was commissioned by a Company called Little Van Gogh to produce a series of eleven large size paintings to circulate and be exhibited around the UK in various prestigious commercial and office locations.

The theme is ‘Sensing Space via Architectural Modernism’ (see –  www.littlevangogh.co.uk – artists). The first exhibition is currently taking place in Guildford.

 Janet Barnes

“Since the last art trail I’ve been busy painting, and in March I completed a 20-day voluntary social isolation painting challenge (before the coronavirus lockdown) in Wales: www.paintingwithmrp.com. 

“On my return from Wales, I’ve been taking part in a weekly lockdown painting challenge.

“I’ve been using my creative practice as a way of coping and making sense of what’s happening.”

For printed copies of “20 Days in 2020” journal (minimum donation of £5 per copy, with all profits going to Parkinson’s UK), or any other enquiries email janetmbarnes@ntlworld.com.

Karen Attwood

“Like other artists, I found it very difficult to even think about creating new work under such traumatic conditions. But I still needed to make and share. So, I made a few little craft videos for the Beeston Heritage Canalside Centre Adult Craft course and I really enjoyed making a collaborative video with alto members of East of England Singers.

“Since February I have been furiously making a massive rug, a huge blanket and a large quantity of community masks.

“It would have been my third ABC Art Trail this year and even though it was cancelled, I put up a mini-exhibition of my latest work.

“I even managed to sell some via my Felted Embroidered Art Etsy shop. A lot of the local sponsors offered to carry forward their 2020 donation to 2021, which was a very generous investment in the future.

“I am already looking forward to the Trail next year which, all being well, will take place on 5th and 6th June.”

 Oksana Holbrook

“I am a textile designer with a Masters in Textile Design.

“Primarily a machine knitter, I am passionate about sustainability working only with natural fibres.

“I presently design and produce hooked rag rugs from recycled and scrap fabric with a heavy emphasis on colour and pattern; something which I have inherited from my Ukrainian heritage.

“My involvement with the ABCAT trail is now in its fourth year, with me taking over as Treasurer at the end of last year.

“As so many shows had been cancelled, I have been concentrating on producing new work for next year, but have also been spending my time clutter clearing and experimenting with cake and bread making.”

Lynda Child

“I am a local artist/printmaker. Initially, during lockdown, I found it hard to be creative. I turned to sewing, an activity I could pick up and put down rather than printmaking which required lots of focus.

“I got out a part made quilt and completed it.

“As shops were closed I joined together leftover fabrics to make a patterned binding. I had intended this to be one fabric. It meant that I wasted nothing and was really pleased with the final quilt. I’ve called it, ‘Lockdown Logcabin’. Log Cabin is a traditional patchwork design. I’m now designing a child’s cot quilt.

“I’ve also made lots of brightly coloured face masks for a charity supporting vulnerable young adults.
During the sunny weather, I did lots of sketching in the garden.”

 Oliver Lovley SGFA

“I am a fine art painter working mainly in oil on board. I have been producing a lot of new figurative paintings lately that are viewable on my website www.oliverlovley.com. As well as this doing live demonstrations on my social media pages. I was part of the ABC Art trail for the first time in 2019.

“I am a member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art in London and I teach classes locally at Artworks art shop in Beeston. I have also exhibited at the Lakeside Arts Centre.”

View Oliver’s website here

Contact him on 07532 179119 or visit his Facebook page

Zoë Zegzula

“I love working with a variety of media, but textiles hold the greatest fascination for me. The immense variety of textures and colours, natural or manmade, provides inspiration for endless ideas. I find working with textiles very relaxing, rewarding and essential to my well-being.

“The nature of my art requires me to have a ‘stash’. This consists of an extensive collection of new, gifted and pre-used textiles ready to turn into future pictures. I use a variety of machine and hand embroidery techniques to produce my art which I have studied for several years at City & Guilds level.

“Taking inspiration from our British Countryside continuously inspires me with inspiration for new work. I love combining art with textiles which stretches the boundary between art and craft.

“I exhibit mainly in the East Midlands at Art & Craft events, I have had solo exhibitions and attended Art Trails. I have been a member of the ABC Art Trail from the beginning and really enjoy the camaraderie with fellow local creatives which has enriched my life.

“I really look forward to the next Art Trail in June 2021.”

Visit Zoe’s website here

Email her at zoe.zegzula@mail.com


Art therapy

Easing gently out of ‘lockdown’, we are reminded of all the places and experiences we have been missing out on, as more local businesses tentatively open up their doors to the public again. Our wonderful independent shops and coffee stops will have safety restrictions in place, but they will be bringing colour and life back to the centre of Beeston.

Whilst our parks and wildlife have never been so appreciated, many of our indoor pursuits have been curtailed, like nipping down to The Crown for a pint or two after work a Friday, browsing Oxfam’s bookshelves and meeting friends for a catch up over a cuppa with homemade cake. The simple pleasures we may have once taken for granted might still feel like a distant memory, but there have still been many things to enjoy in this period of uncertainty.

We are really lucky to have such an abundance of natural beauty in close proximity to our homes, and it is this that has inspired many of our resident artists. In the first ‘lockdown’ edition, I wrote about the power of creating to help us cope with crisis situations. In this one, I am going to remind you of the importance of art on our well-being, not only as a creative process used to explore our emotions and help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, but as something to be absorbed by us as spectators.

The philosopher Alain de Botton would argue that certain great works of art can indeed help us to manage the ‘tensions and confusions of everyday life.’ In his self-help book named Art as Therapy, he demonstrates how art can both ‘guide and console us.’ Now whilst we might not be able to wander around galleries and pop up exhibition at the moment, Beeston does boast a rather large selection of creative talent – plus we have some large scale street art to admire.

The first weekend in June should have seen the return of one of Beeston’s most popular summer events, and celebration of our local artists, The ABC Art Trail. This annual event, that is now in its 9th year, inevitably can’t take place in 2020. Nevertheless, since planning was already well established at the start of the year, it seemed fitting to dedicate this edition to this wonderful community event and take a peek at what artistic delights they had lined up for us this year.

Earlier in the year, we announced a competition that the organisers were running, which was open to primary school children in the Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell area. The theme was ‘Where I Live’ and unsurprisingly there was a great response. Lynda Child chair of ABCAT sent us this update to share.

‘Many thanks for all the wonderful entries we received from local schools at the beginning of the year. We were going to judge these at Easter and announce winners and prizes then. We were so looking forward to displaying the winning entries throughout our Art Trail on June 6th and 7th.

‘Unfortunately, due to the COVID 19 Government guidelines, we were not able to get together to do the judging and our trail had to be cancelled.

‘It is with great regret that the Committee must, therefore, announce a delay in announcing winners. We intend to judge entries when conditions allow a gathering of members. We will make announcements in schools and on our website in due course.

‘Once again thank you for all your entries. Take care everyone.’

I am sure you will join me in commiserating with ABCAT, and many others who have been placed in a similar situation on having to cancel the highlight of their creative calendar this year. Furthermore, I am sure you would love to join us in appreciating a small selection of the participating artist’s work, which we have collated for your enjoyment. Art is still being made and available to purchase via websites and by contacting artists directly. I asked the artists featured in this collection, what creating in ‘lockdown’ has felt like?

The struggle to be creative has been echoed in a few of the artists’ comments and some of them found they had something of an artistic switch, for a while at least. Lynda is well known for her printmaking, however, this generally requires sustained focus and Lynda didn’t feel as though she could manage that at first. Instead, she turned to a past project that she could ‘pick up and put down,’ the bold Lockdown Log Cabin Quilt shown in the gallery section.

Another one of the established artists Zoe Zegzula tells us, ‘When the COVID 19 Lockdown came into place in March, it had a surreal effect on me. As if I was in a nightmare that was unfolding that was not going to end. My creative ideas and thoughts were severely dampened and put on hold. I did not feel at all in the right place to use the surprising gift of more time to be creative.’

She went on to create the exotic piece entitled Toucan, which was kick-started by a commission for brooch at the end of April. This has led to a change in direction for Zoe, prompted by the opportunity to work with such a, ‘colourful subject’ using a range of the textiles design techniques she is renowned for. This piece can also be seen in the gallery of work some of the artists have submitted to us to include in this edition and on the website, along with the rest of the maker’s work.

The great spiritual writer Thomas Merton claims, ‘art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.’ So go on, immerse yourselves in this stunning collection for a little while and discover what resonates with you.

Visit the ABC Art website here

View their Facebook page here


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