Barbara Flint talks us through our Tapestry workshop
The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to experiment and discover a new craft technique.
The tutor, Philip Sanderson, from West Dean College, was an extremely knowledgeable and experienced tapestry weaver and a fantastic teacher. He included a very interesting introduction to the history and work of the West Dean Tapestry Studio and followed it by giving us a clear
step-by-step guide to a few of the basic techniques of tapestry weaving, from making simple blocks of colour to creating diagonals, dots or ‘beads’, stripes and other linear patterns.
The time flew by as we all concentrated on trying to produce professional looking samples in a calm and relaxing atmosphere, resulting in a small example to take home. The techniques of tapestry weaving are sophisticated and become ever more complex the more complicated the design, however this felt like a very comprehensive introduction and I for one, am inspired to make a loom and keep on weaving!
We launched Play Circle at DLWP this month, a new session for learning and play with little ones…
It’s a cold crisp Autumn morning, the ground floor gallery is flooded with golden sunlight and artist Renee So’s ceramic and textile works look stunning. On the bare wooden floor we have marked out a circle with brightly coloured lengths of cloth. The circle is geometry’s most democratic shape. Everybody joining the circle is included. Everybody joining the circle is equal. Welcome to Play Circle – DLWP’s new series of monthly creative sessions enabling toddlers to do what comes naturally to them: PLAY!
Storyteller Kevin Graal, our facilitator for this first Play Circle, says:
We don’t need to teach toddlers how to walk. They do it by themselves. When they take their first steps, we just need to encourage them and make sure they’re safe. In the same way, we don’t need to teach toddlers how to play. We just need to – ever so subtly – facilitate it. That’s why we’re introducing Play Circle at DLWP. We want to create a space in which toddlers and their adults can play together freely – without preconceived outcomes – but with light-touch guidance and inspiration from creative practitioners. We want to show that as well as the proven links between play and the development of cognitive and social skills, play also has its own intrinsic value as a way of finding out about the world and everything in it – including ourselves.
As the Roman poet Ovid said more than 2000 years ago:
“In our play we reveal what kind of people we are.”
Play Circle takes place on the 2nd Monday of every month with a session at 10.15am for members of the general public and a further session – expanding the play circle – for toddlers from a local early years setting. Sessions will be facilitated either by storyteller Kevin Graal or dance artist Anne Colvin together with experienced DLWP volunteers.
Musical Matinee Club’s fabulous hostess Suzy Harvey recaps the glorious return of the disability and dementia-friendly film series
It’s official. I LOVE the Musical Matinee Club!
After a break of about two years, 160 of us came in out of the actual rain, and gathered in the auditorium to watch Singin’ In The Rain. It was a delight to see so many faces of folk who used to come, and to welcome so many new audience members.
I dressed myself as part Gene Kelly, part Debbie Reynolds, and we all sported our very own plastic rain macs (made from yellow bin bags)!
We each had a goody bag of props to use during the film, lovingly loaded by our incredible volunteers. Each time the actors tap danced on the screen, we tapped some spoons together to create the sound effects. We wore feathers in our hair, threw streamers in celebration, waved lengths of toilet paper in the air, sang out loud and danced along throughout.
Mid-film, during our dance break, we danced to Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and It’s Raining Men and a wonderful audience member gave us a very encouraging critique and a score of 9 out of 10.
It was such a delight to be back, in the company of such committed staff and volunteers, and playful, open-hearted audience members.
Ann Kramer delivers a crash-course history lesson on women’s suffrage in Bexhill and Hastings
Our aim for the workshops was to both provide information about the local women’s suffrage campaign and some key women within that campaign, and to make space and time for people to express their personal views verbally and creatively, using written and visual outlets.
With this in mind, Ashley McCormick and myself met on a couple of occasions to identify appropriate crossover elements within the Still I Rise exhibition that could be used to introduce elements from the local women’s suffrage campaign, based on my book Turbulent Spinsters: Women’s Fight for the Vote in Hastings and St Leonards. Reasons for doing this reflect the fact that local suffrage activity is not well known and also that, it can be argued, women’s fight for the vote was an extremely important example of women’s resistance that issues around feminism and gender highlighted in the exhibition.
Once we had identified the appropriate exhibits, we were able to plan and organise the workshop, ensuring a balance between providing information and encouraging participation in the form of various activities.
We began at the entrance to the exhibition with a general welcome and introduction, and a brief overview of the local women’s suffrage campaign, introducing local campaigner Barbara Bodichon and defining ‘suffragist’ and ‘suffragette’ along the way. Attendees were then invited to define what feminism(s) meant to them and to record personal acts of resistance. Some were shared and generated a lot of discussion.
We then moved to the first exhibit, a board game Roots and Bootstraps, which we examined. I used the exhibit as a jumping off point to explore issues of class within the suffrage campaign. I described the class composition of the local campaign, introducing activists such as Emma Fricker Hall, Jane Strickland and Lady Muriel Brassey. Participants were invited to make a list or diagram of female friendships and alliances and their meaning to them.
The exhibit Water Cooler Moments provided the opportunity for me to discuss verbal and physical attacks on suffragettes, locally and nationally, including hurling missiles, anti-suffrage letters to the press, physical attacks by the police and force-feeding. This was followed with an activity based on producing a mind-map of barriers that women still face today.
Our third stop was at Mary Lowndes’ suffragette banners and See Red posters, which I used to talk about the creativity and pageantry of women’s politics via banners, posters and slogans. I also gave examples of local suffragists and suffragettes, such as Isabella Darent Harrison who joined major demonstrations in London and also carried out creative acts of resistance in Hastings and St Leonards.
Finally we moved to the roof top foyer where we invited people to create campaigning slogans and placards, using coloured paper, stencils and collaging material. A number of brilliant slogans were produced and there was energetic discussion around a number of issues.
I enjoyed co-facilitating the workshop enormously. It was a lively and enthusiastic event. Participants were clearly engaged and found the subject matter stimulating, generating some very interesting debates. These in turn raised important issues such as the difficulty in defining feminism, the interlocking natures of oppressions, how personal acts of resistance, such as deciding not to wear make-up, might seem quite small, but can have a much wider impact. All the participants who attended certainly seem to have appreciated the workshop and to have gained insight and inspiration from the experience, not least the opportunity to discuss gender issues with others. I was delighted to have the opportunity to co-facilitate the workshop and found it a very positive experience.
Today little girls were made of far more adventurous ingredients than sugar and spice and all things nice!
In Tales for Toddlers today, Polly was sick of putting the kettle on; Little Miss Muffet wasn’t scared of the spider any more; Mary wasn’t quite so contrary and decided to explore the world beyond the garden; the queen had better things to do than sit in the parlour eating bread and honey, and the maid was tired of hanging out the clothes.
Responding to DLWP’s current exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2, storyteller Kevin Graal introduced five traditional British nursery rhymes which frame girls and women in vulnerable or disempowered roles. Then Tales for Toddlers participants created collages in which those very same nursery rhyme characters were placed in positions of power and authority. Polly took her kettle off and used its contents to put a fire out. Little Miss Muffet became fearless and walked on the moon. Contrary Mary left the garden and took up residence with her nursery rhyme sisters in the Oval Room of the White House, the Queen occupied the counting house and the maid told the king to go and wash his own clothes. Sugar and spice was replaced on the menu by courage and ingenuity.
Kevin says, “I wanted to reinforce the vital role that traditional nursery rhymes can play in the development of children’s language skills but at the same time have some fun with the patriarchal norms which often underpin these rhymes. So I invited our Tales for Toddlers friends to reframe them for the modern world and imagine different, more positive futures for their female characters. It was great fun for toddlers and adults alike!”
Here’s a ‘before and after’ picture created by one of our very talented parents, who brings her daughter to Tales for Toddlers. The children’s ideas were just as clever and adventurous!
Storyteller Ed Boxall tells us how he introduces little ones to art and exhibitions at the DLWP.
I like to base sessions for the pre-schoolers at Tales For Toddlers on coinciding exhibitions at the De La Warr. So, inspired by the Hayv Kahraman exhibition, Tales for Toddlers for February was all about pattern. Pattern appears in all sorts of ways in her work- the fabric of the clothes, the rhythms of the bodies.
The link to the exhibition needs of course to be right for the age group. With toddlers, we’re not ‘educating about art’ but experiencing the fundamental processes involved. In the long run, we might be helping children to get in the habit of delightful artistic processes and perhaps seeing a connection between what they do and things they see in galleries.
We had the space ready for the children by covering the floor with giant paper. You need something for children to do if they arrive early so they started by drawing round bits of their bodies with bright oil crayons on the paper while everyone arrived. They could repeat patterns with hands, fingers, feet and whole body shapes.
When everyone was ready, we moved onto pattern in poetry and enjoyed Brian Moses’ ‘Walking My Iguana’, which has a great chorus to repeat. Next, musical instruments were handed out and we noisily got to know our chosen instrument. We all joined in with my song ‘Yellow Cars’ which has a nice loud/quiet pattern from verse to verse.
We went back to the big paper for the remainder of the session but with some more pattern based processes to use. I brought rubbers to print with, stamp pads, patterned gift wrap and textured wallpaper. The stamp pads are great when you want to print but don’t quite want the full on mess of printing ink.
The children were probably unaware that we were ‘exploring pattern’ but I hope had a great time doing so and parents and children left with some easy things to try at home.
More Tales For Toddlers workshops with different storytellers and workshop leaders will take place on March 11, April 8 and May 13. See our full workshop list and sign up here.
After a successful pilot event last year, The Mother Lode Project announces 14 new workshops for mothers experiencing mental health challenges as a result of motherhood.
Mother lode: a principal vein or zone of gold or silver ore, or colloquially the real/imaginary origin of something valuable or in great abundance.
The aim of this project is to extract the gold from challenging experiences of motherhood by giving opportunities for mothers, who may be experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of motherhood, to work with artist-mothers with lived experience of similar issues. A series of creative writing & photography workshops at the De La Warr Pavilion Studio will be led by writer Antonia Chitty and photographer Vicki Painting for a group of mothers, resulting in a publication of their work & a podcast series. This will raise awareness of the hidden issues surrounding motherhood & mental health focusing on a lifetime of mothering not just pregnancy & birth, exploring expectations versus reality & the resultant impact on their mental health.
Working in partnership with Recovery Partners, who will provide trained peer support within the sessions, each workshop will be held in a safe, confidential space at the DLWP Studio. The project aims to give voice to a diverse group of mothers at all stages of motherhood, whose experiences may not otherwise be heard & connect them with professional women artists exploring motherhood. Women artists are still underrepresented in the art world & those who are mothers face additional barriers to creating work, so we aim to champion their work & increase visibility & confidence.
Childcare bursaries are available for mothers with children aged 0-5 depending on participants’ needs, as well as travel bursaries for low-income mothers. We aim to reach a diverse group of mothers from Rother & Hastings, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+, women of colour, bereaved, adoptive, kinship carers, refugee, migrant, disabled, autistic & mothers of disabled children. Anyone who identifies as a woman with caring responsibilities is welcome.
There will be additional peer support sessions at Egerton Park Children’s Centre in Bexhill and opportunities for mothers to get involved in the podcast series, which will be running throughout the project. The podcasts will consist of conversations, readings & musings about motherhood & mental health by talking to local mothers and those from across the world in collaboration with Spilt Milk Gallery.
The Mother Lode Project was conceived & is coordinated by Xaverine M A Bates, as a means to channelling her experiences as a mother with lived experience of mental health issues, to enable others to express difficult & taboo feelings about motherhood & to help them overcome challenges through the creative process. By enabling mothers who are struggling with mental health issues to tell their stories in ways that have both artistic quality & therapeutic benefit, we hope to raise awareness of the hidden challenges of motherhood, in order to help others understand & empathise with these issues. There is more work to be done in raising awareness of the mental health challenges that many mothers face & we are researching other projects championing artist-mothers including Spilt Milk, Procreate Project, Mothers Who Make, An Artist Residency in Motherhood and Mothers Uncovered.
PHASE ONE: 12th February: introduction to the project
Vicki Painting, photography: 26th February, 12th March, 26th March, 16th April, 30th April
The main theme of the workshops will be that photography can have a protective function, that by placing a camera between ourselves and the subject as a kind of shield and by photographing something we objectify it, this allows a sense of distance from the subject of the picture to create a safe space to discuss/write about it. The workshops will end with self-portraiture. Themes will include:
Making visible the invisible. Through the use of photography in the widest sense: the pictures that people take themselves or use of archival/found photography to voice what might be difficult to put into words.
Discussing a photograph that participants find meaningful & introducing the idea of keeping a photo diary
To explore self, identity and memories: as a bridge between our conscious and unconscious, internal and external worlds using still life; a genre which includes a portrayal of all kinds of man-made or natural objects
Photography as a distraction, people become photographers and control their activity.
Photography as a means of creating order: the use of the camera may be a less spontaneous way of working compared to other creative outlets and provides a more structured means of expressing ideas and emotions.
Peer support sessions at Egerton Park: 19th February, 5th March, 19th March, 2nd April (at The Work Shop), 23rd April, 7th May
PHASE TWO: Antonia Chitty, creative writing: 21st May, 4th June, 18th June, 2nd July, 23rd July
Overview: to create a story from medical records. Aspects of a person’s story can be found between the pages of a medical record, yet medical records are about the patient, not the person, for the practitioner, owned by the NHS. People can feel that they are being processed by the UK healthcare system, passed along some conveyor belt and dumped out the other side without any sense of control or resolution. People have a fundamental need for perception of narrative within their own lives, a plot with a beginning, middle and end. The workshop would explore how mothers can create their own ‘creative’ medical record that tells their story and gives them the control and resolution that they need in their health care journey. Techniques explored: free writing, an introduction to each topic, a short exercise, discussion/sharing, a reading of an inspiring piece of work, then a longer piece of writing followed by a final discussion/sharing. Ideas for the topics:
The referral letter – writing about yourself in the third person & discussion about people’s experiences of being referred, writing the letter we really want to write to someone involved in our healthcare.
The consultation – using dialogue on its own – a chance to take control of a conversation with a medical professional in a way that you may not have done in the past.
The setting and the senses – using the five senses to explore how participants feel about their medical encounters.
Medical imagery – writing from a range of images as a starting point for writing.
Medical tests – talking about the experience of being tested. This could cover tests which aim to evaluate your mental health, and/or physical diagnostic tests, depending on people’s interests and experience.
Everyone taking part would be supplied with a folder – their own medical record, which they can customise and keep their work in.
Peer support sessions at Egerton Park: 14th May, 28th May, 11th June, 25th June, 9th July, 16th July
30th July: Final session: overview & evaluation of project
30th September: presentation of project at DLWP Studio for participants and arts & mental health professionals
NB: participants can choose to participate in either the photography or creative writing workshops or both, as well as the peer-support drop-in sessions and podcast series depending on interest & availability. Please ensure you are able to commit to all chosen sessions for continuity.
For inquiries and to book a place, contact Project Coordinator Xaverine Bates:
Our third fanzine-making workshop, which was held on the 13th April was well attended – with another full table of cutting and pasting participants.
Some of those involved joined forces to make zines together – including four friends who made our biggest fanzine yet entitled “Waggy Tail”, which ran to many pages and gives us the title of this post.
Other notable titles included “Rage” (a very angry zine!) and “Book of Anything.”
And a few more from the session..
The next fanzine workshop will be held on Saturday 25th May – hope to see you all there!