Tag: Crafts

Creative Beeston: Beautiful Things are Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DU

Creative Beeston: The 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

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

Outside looking in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what will she do next…?

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

DU

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