Archive for June, 2019


Image result for Staffordshire flatback death of nelson

A Staffordshire flatback commemorating the Death of Nelson (c. 1835-1875)

Another excellent meeting yesterday in the Dunbabin Room at The Willow Gallery. We kicked off with some organisational stuff about the upcoming Oswestry Nature Festival exhibition at the Willow. We have the whole of the wall by the rear entrance (opposite the kitchen door and loos) for the duration of the exhibition, and will be hanging it “salon style” (ie: works as close as possible) so as to maximise our presence.

 

Because we will be using the wall (and only that one wall), knowing what we have to exhibit is crucial. Please send Debbie your application forms and measurements of the piece(s) you wish to enter into the exhibition this week. We will be drawing up a plan of the wall to give to Anthony as a guide to hanging, but we must know sizes of pieces in order to do this. All work must be delivered to The Willow Gallery by June 29th at the latest in order to be included. You must have completed your Willow Gallery artists’ statement and application form (copies available from Debbie if you do not already have one), and attach a luggage-style label to the back of your work(s) with your name and title of the work. There will be Old Oswestry Hillfort Creativity Group stickers with Anthony behind the main desk at The Willow in a marked envelope. When you drop off your work(s), stick one of these stickers onto the luggage label with your name/title on it; this will ensure it gets hung in the right place (John will be delivering these stickers to The Willow from next Wed., so if you deliver your work before then, stickers won’t be available, but let me know you’ve done so and I will find your work and stick a sticker for you next Wed.).

We then had a quick discussion – that turned into quite a brainstorming session – about the Heritage Open Days Events in Oswestry Library in September. This event replaces the originally-proposed exhibition idea in Oswestry Market during HOD. Instead, we are now going to run a series of creative activities at tables throughout Oswestry Library on Saturday September 14th, between 10am-2pm as part of Heritage Open Days. From our discussion, the following activities were suggested:

Diana – papier mache hillforts

Rob – drawing iron age tools

Dzintra – historical weaving

Dorothy – bronze and iron age pot-making

John – drawing and colouring: hillforts/etc.

We will also have something about butterflies, moths and other insects on the hillfort, making use of work Dzintra has already done, plus things that Diana has from a previous workshop. More activities would be welcome, so if anyone has any ideas, bring them along to the next meeting. Something word-related would be good – Dave/Penny/or any of our other word-smiths: poetry/creative writing/…etc? If we have more activities than the Library has room for, we shall use that happy occasion to approach Mark Hignett at the Museum and see if we can use the Courtroom for overspill. We can talk more about that next meeting.

Enough talking – time for making! Dorothy kindly brought along clay and some photographs and a book on Staffordshire “flatbacks” – mantlepiece ceramics which were popular eighteenth and nineteenth century decorative/commemorative items. We all had a go making flatback trees, based on the examples she brought. Although we only had 45 minutes to play, even those of us who had never worked with clay before made great progress! Dorothy has kindly offered to fire and glaze our finished pieces, so sometime before next Friday, take them to the Library and put them on the windowsill above the BVA display area (with newspaper, poo bag and a bit of bubble wrap if you have it) and she will collect them and complete them. And if you’re interested – and I think a lot of us were – Dorothy has offered to do a much longer clay workshop, perhaps half-a-day? (Dorothy hasn’t confirmed this yet, so don’t quote me!). Get in touch if you’re interested and we’ll start making some arrangements. We’ll need to find a room (although the Dunbabin worked well, I thought), and work out a time, so nothing has been set in stone (or clay, ha-ha) yet. 

Discussion both during and after the session touched on the idea of commemoration and memorialisation. I’m interested in the idea that “craft art” objects like flatbacks can actually sometimes do a better job of bringing commemoration of places and events into the home than “fine art” objects. Think about all the tourist souvenirs people have in their homes that commemorate visits to important or significant places. I’ve got plenty of “real” art and “real” craft from around the world at home, but I’ve also got a resin replica of the Romulus/Remus/Wolf mother statue I bought in Rome on my desk, which probably does more to make me say “Ah, Rome – I should go back there some day” than any other Rome-related art object or book I have. It made me think about snowglobes, picture-frames, fridge magnets and other kinds of tourist tat: do they do a better job of connecting people to historical places than “fine” or “high” art reminders? Perhaps what Old Oswestry actually needs are Old Oswestry snowglobes, fridge magnets and other forms of modern-day “flatbacks”?

Anyway, we can fight about that at a later date! Speaking of which, we didn’t set a date or location for our next meeting. July is a bit complicated for a number of people, but so far we’re looking at the very last Wed in the month – the 31st – as a possibility. Get in touch with myself or Debbie to let us know if this might suit, and we’ll fix a date and be back in touch within the next week or so.

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Dragonflies at The Willow

Dragonfly poster

Dzintra’s next workshop at The Willow Gallery in Oswestry is coming up at the end of this month. It’s a creative, drop-in session between 11-2pm, so stay for as long as you want. Great for kids – but parents need to stay and supervise. And if you’re wondering how this connects to the Hillfort, check out the most recent BioBlitz report from Turnstone Ecology detailing the extraordinary range of species the hillfort supports. There are plans for English Heritage and Turnstone Ecology to work with the Hillfort community group to do another full-scale evaluation report in eighteen months’ time, but anyone interested in the ecology of the site should get in touch with the community team via Facebook and find out about art and creativity can contribute towards interim recording projects (like Graham Mitchell’s “Hillfort Watch“).

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