‘this way up’ professional development programme

‘This Way Up’ is a wellbeing project by Creative Health CIC for people living in Wolverhampton and Staffordshire. The project is tailored to different community groups, including asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, people with dementia and the general public. The project gives the participants chance to take part in weekly art and craft sessions. The aim is to give the communities a sense of wellbeing and escape, a break from every day life and an opportunity to develop their creativity. ‘This Way Up’ is led by three artists, Ben Sadler, Sarah Taylor Silverwood and Justin Wiggan. Six other artists, including myself have been given the opportunity to develop their own practice by working alongside the lead artists as part of a ‘Professional Development Programme’. These artists are Carolyn Morton, iLdiko Nagy, Emma Price, Jamila Walker and Priya Mistry. Selected works will be exhibited in Wolverhampton Art Gallery for the public to see. I hope this gives the community groups the confidence to continue to create once the projects are complete. The project is currently underway and has had a fantastic response!
The first block of sessions I was involved in was at Shire Hall gallery in Stafford. The first two sessions were led by artist Ben Sadler, the group explored collage and drawing techniques, looking at landscapes and portraits. This was a great way for the participants to learn new craft skills and take on fresh approaches to art and design. The work created was fantastic! In weeks three and four Carolyn Morton and myself lead one session each.
Carolyn’s session was a ‘still life’ drawing workshop, which really had the group stepping out of their comfort zones. The workshop was extremely relaxed and had a great response. The group began the day quite apprehensive about the task at hand, but by the end, the confidence of the participants shone and we saw a real sense of achievement. The works were beautiful, with some of the group looking at negative space, mixed media and other distinct ideas and techniques.
Session four was led by myself. I took inspiration from the first 3 weeks, looking at landscape, portrait, still life and collage. I collected a wide selection ceramic decals and we used these to create designs onto fired ceramic tiles. This session was really popular. The group loved working in this way, and the variety of designs was fantastic! It felt like the group had established their own styles and really found their confidence. I would love the tiles to be exhibited together as a collaborative piece at the Wolverhampton Gallery show.
Overall, this block of sessions has been great. A lovely group of ladies, wonderful artists and fabulous work! Unfortunately Shire Hall will be closing in the near future. The staff and space have been great and I am very sad that these sessions are over. Carolyn Morton and myself are planning to work on a project together in the near future, which could give people in Stafford a creative space to work from.
The next blocks of sessions I will be involved in will be at Perton Library in Staffordshire and Limewood Residential Care Home in Stafford. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next sessions bring.



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