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A man and a woman in white aprons are holding between them a t-shirt tie-dyed with indigo and white circular patterns. They are both smiling.

Art at the Treehouse, Elephant Park, 2023-24

Posted: 19th January 2024

We began our year-long programme at the Treehouse in May 2023, as part of our community-based creativity project in Southwark. Our aim was to create an enjoyable weekly activity that local residents can feel comfortable to attend long-term, creating familiarity and routine. However we also wanted people to be able to explore and enjoy a range of arts practices, and so we have structured the year into 10-week terms that focus on one arts practice. We delivered 5 terms over the year: nature-based art; print-making; illustration and journaling; ceramics; and textiles. You can read more about each of completed terms below.

Having come to almost all of the sessions throughout the year, one of our participants wrote to say: β€œI just wanted to let you know that our weekly art class is the highlight of our week. It’s often quite challenging these days, for both mum and I and the class gives us a little window of light and creativity each week to look forward to.”

Term 1: Nature-based art and creativity

This first programme drew on nature as a theme, using the surrounding park to inspire the activities each week. These included painting, collage, drawing, indigo dye-ing and printmaking. The programme was delivered by professional artist and facilitator Seiwa Cunningham.

A man and a woman in white aprons are holding between them a t-shirt tie-dyed with indigo and white circular patterns. They are both smiling. And older man is pegging a white t-shirt while an older woman watches. They are both concentrating.

Term 2: Print-making

Our second term of our year-long programme in Southwark featured two print artists, each working across five weeks to deliver challenging and varied print activities. Melissa began with activities including screen printing, foam printing, Cyanotype printing, and Gyotaku (a traditional Japanese printing method). Georgia then led participants through stamp making and printing, Gelli Plate printing, and lino etching/printing. The prints created in this programme, of remarkable quality, were featured in an exhibition as part of the Urban Elephant Festival 2023. The exhibition provided a platform for our incredible participants and raised awareness amongst the local community, inspiring people with what can be achieved post-diagnosis.

A young woman is standing and helping an older woman with cutting colourful paper into detailed shapes. Another woman has printed a shape and is seeing her new art. Two people are concentrating on creating. A younger woman is rolling blue ink onto a picture, and an older man is cutting out fine details into paper.

β€œThese sessions have been very good for her. I don’t know how much you can be aware that she has really come out of herself, and has the confidence to initiate and maintain conversations, which she never used to do. Thank you so much (I really mean that)!” Carer participant

Term 3: Illustration and journaling

Led by Alicia these sessions explored ways of noticing the everyday moments around us and capturing them within a journal using various drawing techniques.

Three women are sitting at a table, using colourful pastels to create shapes. A man and a woman are sitting at a table, with colourful pictures they have just made.

Term 4: Ceramics

Experienced ceramicist Katie Spragg led these sessions where participants could explore using clay, creating pieces inspired by nature, and then (once fired) add glazes to create a finished piece.

Two women are sitting next to each other, smiling, while painting onto clay items Lots of colourful clay pieces - including a penguin, a crocodile and plants, are on a table, alongside pots of glazes

Term 5: Textiles

Textile artist Gussi Phillipou, who had previously volunteered at a programme at the Queen’s Gallery, led this term’s workshops exploring different ways of creating using fabrics and threads.Β  Sessions including printing onto fabric, collage using shapes cut from fabric, creating colourful patches and mends, and weaving.

Two women are standing in front of a table covered with colourful prints, paints and rollers covered in paint A bold red pattern on white paper, beside the objects used to make that print, and the hand of the maker.

We also put on an exhibition of our participants’ work

In summer 2023, as part of the Urban Elephant Festival, we put on an exhibition of artworks created by our participants.Β  Read more about it here.

Written by Penny Fosten

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