Tag: creative

Let Us Spray: Beeston’s Street Art Festival

The use of aerosol paint to spray shapes, words or figures on a wall or surface is often seen as vandalism to some, but art to others.

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Some of the country’s best spray can artists descended on Beeston recently, to colour the town in more colours than your average bag of Skittles. They didn’t arrive under the cover of darkness like Banksy appears to do, but in broad daylight and an audience watched while they created their unique works of art, with their £3.50 a can of spray paint. They were here to participate in Beeston’s first Street Art Festival, which took place around the town on the weekend of the 16th June.

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I caught up with Jeanie Barton, the driving force behind the project, who welcomed the break from gardening, to talk about the weekend and how things went. “It was brilliant. It went really well.  I’ve had lots of emails from people saying how happy the artwork has made them. The artists were happy with how things went too. Which is rewarding in itself. People are really impressed with the quality of the work created. I don’t think there’s been a single complaint about it. There was a bottleneck at the top of the twitchell by Round Hill School on the Monday, as parents and children wanted to see how their school looked now. There’s a great mix of styles. Something for everyone.”

Turning to the original plan, which was to decorate that dull part of Station Road, between Birds and B&M. I asked Jeanie about the origins of the idea and why it hasn’t taken place yet. “It started with a posting on Beeston Updated. Someone said how street art could make a town more colourful and that something should be done with that wall near Birds. Other people agreed, so I set up a separate Facebook page and people started to join and shared photos of walls from across the world that had been decorated.  This was in April last year. Broxtowe Borough Council was approached and liked the idea. They have £8000 that’s ready to be spent on art. But things went quiet, so we thought we could decorate some other bare walls around the town instead and went for sponsorship and Crowdfunding. Altogether we raised over £3000.”

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I then asked Jeanie about what’s next. “We have a few more areas to do, such as Hallams and the Victory Club. Hopefully more owners of buildings will come forward that they’d like decorating. We will also be producing a proper guide to them all later this year, with photos of the work, together with profiles of the artists. People from Cheltenham, Bristol etc have been to see the designs. Bristol has its own annual street art festival. So I don’t see why we can’t have one too.”

By the time you are reading this, hopefully there will be some good news about those grim walls on Station Road and how they are going to be transformed into something more in keeping with the artistic identity of Beeston.

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The names of the artists include Tunn, Boster, Onga and Emily Catherine, Zane, Zabou and Goya.

CDF

Women, War and Writing

A catch up with local author Clare Harvey…

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I met local author Clare Harvey and her black Alsatian-cross Jake in Froth, which is part of the aptly named Creative Corner in Chilwell. I’d met Clare quite by chance at the re-opening of Beeston’s library in September. Clare has written three novels so far: The Gunner Girl, The English Agent and The Night Raid, with a fourth currently being penned. Her stories have all featured independent, strong women in a World War II setting.

I firstly asked Clare about her beginnings and how she got into writing. “I was born in Barnstaple, North Devon, but spent time growing up in Mauritius, as my dad worked at a teacher training college there. After some more moving around, I took a Foundation Course Diploma in art at Plymouth University, before reading law at the University of Leicester. After graduating, I took some temping jobs in London and then spent a year doing voluntary work and travelling in sub-Saharan Africa. On my return, I moved to the Peak District to work for an overseas development charity, and later returned to London to take a postgraduate course in journalism at the London College of Communication.”

She proposed to her soldier boyfriend Chris in 1996 in Split, Croatia during a 72-hour leave pass from his operational tour in Bosnia. The couple married in early 1998. They moved to Beeston, as Chris was posted to Chetwynd Barracks with the Royal Engineers, and Clare divided her time between an administrative job at Boots’ Head Office and freelance journalism. The couple were then posted to Northern Ireland for two years, where Clare worked as a freelance journalist. It was there that Clare began writing short stories, but she didn’t start work on her first novel until 1998 when they were posted to Germany and pregnant with their first child. “Being an army wife can be a lonely existence, and my writing became a kind of companion in the years when I was the trailing spouse to my husband’s military career.”

“…the revelation that my husband’s mum had been a teenage soldier in the Second World War was an inspiration.”

By 2011 Clare had three children, moved house seven times and written three unpublished novels. Finding herself back in Chilwell, with a husband about to go on a six-month tour in Afghanistan, Clare enrolled on a creative writing MA at the University of Nottingham. That’s when the idea for her debut novel came about. Her husband was polishing his medals ready for the Remembrance Sunday parade, when she remarked that he had more gongs than his dad. Clare’s husband was a third generation career soldier. He replied that his dad didn’t have that many medals, and that the joke in the family was that Mum had seen more enemy action. “How had I not known that my mother-in-law saw active wartime service? I was intrigued. Although she was sadly no longer alive, the revelation that my husband’s mum had been a teenage soldier in the Second World War was an inspiration.”

Whilst her husband was away on active duty, Clare used her MA as an opportunity to write the beginnings of what would become The Gunner Girl. Clare graduated in 2012, just after Chris returned from Afghanistan, and carried on working on the novel, alongside teaching English learners with Voluntary Action Broxtowe, and running art-inspired literacy workshops for primary pupils at Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

Clare finally finished her novel in early 2014, and sent it to the Romantic Novelists Association for feedback. They suggested a few tweaks. By October she had signed with an agent. Then in November she got her first two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. The Gunner Girl was published on the 8th of October 2015, with the paperback coming out three months later. She then had the hard job of writing book number two.

Clare had come across the story of Vera Atkins, who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War, and had the idea that one of the characters from The Gunner Girl (Edie) gets the opportunity of becoming an SOE agent in France. “Setting the book there meant that I had to go to Paris for research purposes. This just happened to be around Valentine’s Day!” The English Agent was published last year.

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Clare’s third novel, The Night Raid, features lots of Nottingham locations including Bromley House Library and artist Dame Laura Knight as one of the main characters. It was published in July. There is going to be a very special launch for the paperback edition on December 14th. Clare will be officially launching the book at 11am with a ceremony on the ‘Dame Laura Knight’ tram at the NETtram depot, with help from pupils from George Spencer Academy. At 2pm she’ll be at Nottingham Lakeside Arts to talk about how Dame Laura helped inspire the novel and signing copies of her books (booking essential, via Lakeside Arts: 0115 846 7777). Then at 4pm, she will be more signings at Lady Jayne’s Vintage Tearoom, next to Toton Lane tram stop, where there will also be mulled wine and homemade mince pies on offer.

It’s always interesting to read about what routines authors have for getting their words down, so of course I had to ask Clare what hers were. “I manage to do about 45 minutes in the morning, before everyone else is up and then take the kids to school.  I’ll then usually work through, until its time to do the school run. I storyboard everything, like a film director does, and I always write in longhand, before typing it up on the laptop. I prefer to write in silence, but am happy to listen to music when I’m at the editing stage.”

Finally, I asked Clare about book number four. “It’s a two-timeline story. One takes place in Germany 1945 as the Red Army move in, and the Iron Curtain falls. While the other is set in 1989 in the UK and Berlin, as the Berlin Wall falls and the Iron Curtain rises.”  The Escape should be published in hardback next August.

You can find out more about Clare on her publisher’s author page: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/authors/Clare-Harvey/576635850

Her website: http://clareharvey.net

Or catch up with her on social media:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth
Facebook: ClareHarvey13

CDF

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

Beeston street art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just watch that space!

DU

Tales From The Paperhaus

I ink therefore I am…

I wanted to start this piece with a mysterious journey but a few stops on the IGO didn’t quite fit the bill, although being pensioners’ shopping day it did feel a little bit like a ghost train. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Long Eaton wasn’t the zombie apocalypse I had been warned about when I alighted at The Green. I was however on the search for none other than the heavily tattooed gentleman whose resemblance to a flat capped Vic Reeves is more than a little uncanny.

If you cross over on Wilko’s corner and saunter down Oxford Road, tucked away in Mayfair Walk you will find a hidden talent who grew up on Imperial Road in Beeston. Daniel Roberts has been filling up sketch books from his wild imagination since he was a nipper and the manifestations from his mind are now finding themselves adorning the bodies of many local characters.

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Danny / tea / biscuits

Danny opened his tattoo parlour ‘Paperhaus Tattoo’ back in 2014 after completing a three-year apprenticeship. He is not entirely sure what inspired him to tattoo in the first place other than the simple desire to ‘see his artwork on skin.’ The inspiration for his often dark characters and twisted scenes are born out of a desire to make the ordinary extraordinary, after all why wouldn’t a horse wear a pair of high heels and a rabbit be partial to eating a sandwich? He considers himself as an artist who tattoos, his artwork did come first after all. Some of his designs are currently available on t-shirts and will soon be available as prints.

When I arrived at his studio for a chat and a strong coffee, Danny was working on a piece for guy in Phoenix Arizona that he had hooked up with via Instagram. He was clearly thrilled that this guy had lots of positive things to say about his art but it was their shared love of vinyl that led to this commissioned piece. The design will be printed up on t-shirts to promote a local club night at a tiki-themed bar, a real ‘by the people for the people’ kind of design project. ‘ Afro Waltz’ by John Cameron was playing in the background as he spoke which made for a relaxed if trippy atmosphere.

As I have a gleg round Danny’s studio, a home from home. I cast an eye over the chintzy lampshade balanced on a dark wood standard lamp and eye up a soft squishy sofa underneath the tattoo flash that adorns the back wall of the waiting area, there is a distinct lack of pretention in the air. It definitely not your typical tattoo studio, it could be described hauntingly kitsch, but then Danny is not your typical tattooist. He is very candid about his first forays into art. ‘It was either that or watching black and white regional telly on the portable in our static caravan in Skegness.’ The penny arcades had no lure for the young Daniel, he much preferred ‘sketching on the back of a cornflake packet with a biro.’

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Scribbles

As I watch intently as his busy digits sketch, I ask him how he comes up with some of his detailed designs. He picks up his comical coffee mug, in a jaunty fashion, and tells me ‘I clear my mind and it’s like a cosmic internet connection, it’s automatic how things connect and I often look at what I have drawn and ask myself “How did I think of that?” He talks about the urge to draw as that familiar ‘itch you have to scratch’ and likens his inspiration to childhood pastimes like seeing shapes in the clouds or in patterns on the pavements.

There are recurring symbols that appear in many of his drawings, a favourite being the oven ready chicken

He says he has been influenced by the works of Dali and Woodring and there is most definitely surrealism in his art. There are also recurring symbols that appear in many of his drawings, a favourite being the oven ready chicken, which has been spotted in some very compromising positions. It is the reactions to his work that Danny enjoys the most. Whether they shock, excite, humour or disgust he doesn’t mind as long as they get a response. It would be fair to say there is an innocence and sense of mischief in a lot of his works and this is quite representative of the man himself. He has most certainly got his own style and he recognises that it is not to everyone’s taste and could be considered niche.

Dan likes the idea of his artwork being framed and appreciated, we are not here forever but things like art can be owned and then passed on, keeping the legacy alive. He hopes that by putting it out there people will acknowledge it and someone will buy it and appreciate it, but then they may give it away or die and it’s this idea that you don’t know what might happen to it that intrigues him most. As I glance at the fine example of a 70s cuckoo clock, I am surprised to see that a couple of hours has floated by and I have a notebook full of my own scribbles. Dan can really make you feel right at home, you’ll never want to leave…

http://paperhaus.co.uk/

You will find Danny in his studio at Boutique 6, Mayfair Walk, Oxford Street, Long Eaton, NG10 1JR

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:30am–18:00pm / Saturday 10:30am–18:00

Debra Urbacz

The Return to Handmade – Hipster Trend or Quiet Revolution?

If like me you like to buy unique presents for people at Christmas and prefer to shop locally, then you will have been more than aware of the vast number of ‘craft’ shopping opportunities that were available to us in Nottinghamshire this year. We may ask ourselves, at a time when goods are so easily mass produced all over the globe and readily transported to us in record time, why is there this steady uprise in the making and selling of handmade items? Has it become trendy to make your own or is it a result of the current economic downturn? Are we getting bored of the replicated products we see on all the shelves, in all the shops, and are instead striving for originality?  Or could it be that we are starting to value again the time and care that is spent on something that has been made from start to finish by one person’s skilful hands.

According to the UK Craft Council the consumption of craft has been on the increase for quite a number of years. Their 2010 study showed that 40% of the adults in their sample had purchased a craft object and 23% would consider buying craft. It also showed that the greatest demand was for contemporary  or ‘cutting edge’ craft with 97% of craft buyers supporting this market. It might be worth making the distinction at this point, between the different categories that handmade can be grouped into.

Craft

By definition, to ‘craft’ something is to make it with one’s own hands so this would appear to cover a wide range of objects. However, currently this seems to range from something you made impulsively out of card, with the kids on a wet Saturday afternoon, to the kind of objects d’art you might see at the acclaimed ‘Lustre’ exhibition which features at Lakeside Art Centre in November. In the Craft Council research the words ‘authenticity’, ‘quality’ ‘handmade’, ‘workmanship’ and ‘genuine’ were all attributed to the genre.

Contemporary Craft

Is the name we give to the work that is typically produced by graduates who have honed their skills academically and have created a business which involves making, marketing and selling their own pieces. We tend to look upon this as the ‘high end’ of the craft market and it would be most likely to be sold at larger handmade events, such as ‘Craft in the City’ in Waterstones, rather than the local church Christmas fair. It is this market that the Craft Council’s 2015 three year strategy supports, in their evaluation of craft trends and their impact on policy and practice.

Art

Always a tricky one this, and without getting into the ‘what is art?’ debate, we tend to attach this label to things that are made purely for their aesthetic value rather than their everyday use. Whereas craft objects tend to be created for their practical aspects and are often born out of a need for something that didn’t previously exist. Let’s take the tea cosy as a good honest utilitarian Nottingham example – you don’t want your tea to go cold whilst it’s mashin’ duck!

Creativity

So, do you need to be creative to be able to do crafts? Well, not entirely. Sometimes learning the steps to make something and being technically minded is all you need to produce a perfectly presented set of greetings cards or an origami animal. Natural creativity is generally more expressive and something that comes and goes. The creator can find themselves frustrated when an idea they had doesn’t quite work out the way they imagined it and this is often the artist’s nemesis. But without doubt, undertaking some kind of creative pursuit has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our well-being. It may be just about finding the one that suits you.

How creative is Beeston?

Very! There are many different groups of artists and makers networking and planning exhibitions as we speak. If you were lucky enough to visit last year’s ABC Arts Trail – twenty five artists at twelve venues – you will already be aware of the wealth of talent we have in Beeston and the surrounding areas.

In fact one Beestonian, Marysia Zipser, was so taken by the cultural and creative richness of this town she set up ACT (Art-Culture-Tourism)  in December 2013. According to her recent interview in the West Bridgford Wire, she is ‘on a mission to make Beeston the art and culture capital of the UK.’ Although she ran ACT voluntarily for the past three years, in May 2016 it became an official registered organisation.

On a smaller scale there are community craft groups currently running from Two Little Magpies, Beeston’s newest gift shop which houses a fantastic selection of locally produced cards, prints, textiles, jewellery and garments.  There is gallery space at Mish Mash on Chilwell’s Creative Corner as well as some of the local restaurants and tea rooms, and regular workshops at Artworks, Heidi’s Home Furnishings and The Fabric Place.

Connections are being made and friendships being forged and we are well on the way to having our own creative ‘hub’ where many of these creatives can share space and ideas and maybe make preparations for that ‘creative revolution.’

Facebook communities you can join: Creative Beeston, Sew Notts, Made in Beeston

For more information email itsinthebeehive@gmail.com

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