‘this way up’ at wolverhampton art gallery

‘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 SadlerSarah 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 NagyEmma PriceJamila Walker and Priya Mistry. Selected works will be exhibited in Wolverhampton Art Gallery for the public to view.
My fourth block of sessions were at Wolverhampton Art Gallery with Sarah Taylor Silverwood and Priya Mistry. These were my first sessions working with the Refugee and Migrant centre participants, which was a really great and challenging experience. Sarah led two sessions in which the participants tried printing, they also created zines which will be used as an exhibition catalogue for the final show at the gallery. The participants used cut outs from copies of work from previous workshops.
Priya’s sessions were explorative, yet relaxing. The participants created beautiful, mixed media diorama sculptures and explored new ways of creating, exploring and thinking.
After the clay workshops being so successful at Perton library, I continued to work in clay with the groups at the gallery. In my first session, both groups created clay stamps, with which they printed, using printing ink onto paper. The results were so much better than expected, the leather hard clay worked really well as a printing tool. A new technique that I will certainly use again. It was really interesting to try this out with two very different groups. The morning group, which was mostly retired adults, had a very free approach to printing and were very explorative with the process. The second group, which was the RMC, took real care and time over their clay creations, and not many tried out the printing part of the session. The clay pieces seemed to be very precious to the participants, therefore we are going to fire the creations to be exhibited and/or taken home. There was some incredibly beautiful work created by this group!
My second session at the gallery was with the morning group and we created ‘memory boxes’. Inspired by Joseph Cornell and Lawrence Epps, we created terracotta boxes using a slab building technique, and encapsulated memories within them by modelling with the red clay. The results were excellent, the group really enjoyed working with clay in this way, and learned new skills!

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