Tag Archive: Oswestry Advertiser

Creativity Group in the ‘Tizer

HCG_HOD_1A nice set of photographs and a writeup in this week’s Advertizer on the Hillfort Creativity Group and our contribution to Heritage Open Days. Good work, everyone!

“Local” town sculpture trail?

Soon to be part of Oswestry's town sculpture trail? The "Lord Greystoke" by Black Country Metalworks (photograph (c) Black Country Metalworks) via: blackcountrymetalworks.co.uk

Soon to be part of Oswestry’s town sculpture trail? The “Lord Greystoke” by Black Country Metalworks (photograph (c) Black Country Metalworks) via: blackcountrymetalworks.co.uk

Did you know that Oswestry was to get a “town sculpture trail”? No, neither did I.

In the Oswestry Advertiser today is an article announcing that the trail – sponsored by the Oswestry Joint Economic Board – is to consist of metal animal sculptures supplied by Black Country Metal Works, a company based in Aston near Oswestry. The company has a line of animal garden sculptures (you can view them on their website). The sculptures are to be supplied and maintained free – but are not the work of local artists. According to Chris Stokes, the Chairman of Oswestry Borderland Tourism, the sculptures will be “imported from abroad”.

Mr. Stokes complained, “There is a wealth of talent in Oswestry. These pieces could have been commissioned for a small amount from local artists. They would be of more interest for tourists coming to Oswestry to look at local artists’ work rather than something that is made abroad. I want to champion the case for Oswestry as an area you can find local work in the town.”

But, insist Oswestry Town Council, the imported sculptures will “revitalise the town and bring arty people in.” News to all the “arty people” who are already in Oswestry, perhaps – but we can all make up our minds at Easter, when the trail is opened.

It seems a shame that the Oswestry Joint Economic Board couldn’t have coordinated this a bit better. Chris Stokes makes some excellent points – and there are any number of local artists who would have been happy to work alongside both the Economic Board and Black Country Metal Works on this project. I’m sure Black Country Metal Works, the Economics Board and Oswestry Town Council had good intentions, but I can’t help feeling that, far from gaining a sculpture trail, Oswestry has lost an opportunity.


Do we want a “local arts centre”?

Artists impression of how a new Local Arts Centre in Oswestry probably won’t look. (Syd Mead)

The Oswestry Advertiser has expressed some interest in running a story in an upcoming edition based on my blog post last week: Local Arts Centre for Oswestry? They think it’s an idea that the Council might be interested in. I suggested to them that if that’s the case, it should be incorporated into the Oswestry 2020 project – and approached with some caution.

There is a problem with the arts in Oswestry. Just about everyone is agreed that the arts are “a good thing”, and that they should be “encouraged” and that they can “contribute” to Oswestry’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing/growth – but no one can agree just what any of that actually means. Does “encouraged” mean funded? Does “contribute” mean pay its way? As the Oswestry 2020 planning gets underway, these phrases are being repeated and not defined.

I think there’s a lot of great art happening in and around Oswestry, but I also think it lacks focus, and a lot of great events and exhibitions are going by without much notice. Initiatives such as “Art In And Around Oswestry” (Jas Davidson/BVA) have tried to address this, as has this blog. Shops around the Bailey Head have also contributed window space for impromptu art/culture noticeboards. A local arts centre of some description may help to provide this kind of focus.

But a local arts centre – whether an actual place or just the hub of a network – can only really work if it responds to the actual day-to-day needs of people involved with art, whether local artists/crafters, art students, people teaching or taking art courses, school groups, or people who just like to look at art.

If discussion about a “local arts centre” is going to go any further – into the Advertiser, to the Council, etc. – perhaps one of the most useful things we can contribute at the moment is answers to the following two questions:

What would you want from a local arts centre?

What would a local arts centre be able to provide that places like the Qube, The Willow Gallery, Oswestry Heritage Gallery, Chicken Gallery, etc. can’t or don’t?

Exhibition space? Working space? A good cafe? An arts library? A shop? Visiting exhibition space? Information boards? Or would an arts centre simply be a waste of time and effort – should we just make the most of the facilities that we have at the moment?

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade: sustainable development for marginalised producers, workers and their communities, based on ideals of equity and transparency.

Did you know that Oswestry was declared a Fairtrade Town  in 2006 and 2007? I must admit, I didn’t.

But the truth is that Oswestry has a lot of small, independent retailers (and big supermarkets) who actively stock Fairtrade foods and goods. Some of the cafes in Oswestry make a point of only serving Fairtrade tea and coffee.

A few weeks ago wondered on this blog if anyone was interested in doing a small Art Works project to do with the shops in Oswestry that stock Fairtrade products. Well, it turns out that the two weeks between Monday, February 25 and Sunday, March 10th next year is Fairtrade Fortnight – a two-week long festival across Britain dedicated to raising awareness of Fairtrade products and the Fairtrade ideal. Following my blog post two weeks ago, the Oswestry Advertiser got in touch and said that they would be very interested in following any art project Inside Out might do relating to Fairtrade in Oswestry.

So, what about it? Is anyone interested in putting together a series of Fairtrade-inspired artworks perhaps for exhibition in and around Fairtrade shops in Oswestry during Fairtrade Fortnight in 2013?

I’d certainly be up for this – and we can coordinate both with The Fairtrade Foundation‘s national campaign as well as initiatives and events run by the Oswestry and District Fairtrade Group. Anyone else who’s interested, post a comment to the blog – or come along to next month’s Notebook Meeting at the Willow Gallery (Wed., Nov. 7th at 2pm) and we can have a brief chat about it then.

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