Tag Archive: Oswestry Library


Shropshire Libraries Consultation

Over the years, all of the art groups in Oswestry have made good use of Oswestry Library. The Hillfort Creativity Group, the Inside Out art group, BVA, OsMakes – all of us (and more) have benefitted from the Library’s open and supportive attitude towards local artists.

Shropshire Libraries is now carrying out a consultation about the future of all libraries in Shropshire. This is about money, of course – saving it: cutting library funding yet again because it’s seen as a soft target.

But this consultation is a chance for all of us community artists to make our voices heard and say how important the library is for us and our work. Take the online survey and let Shropshire Council know YOU feel about Oswestry Library.

Claire final touches

 

A big thank you to everyone who helped make our Heritage Open Days events such a success! We had a lot of families come through the Library to take part in our activities, and a lot of happy faces as a result. Indeed, the event was so successful that we’re thinking of doing something like this more regularly – watch this space! Thanks to Diana for the above photographs – we should also be in the Advertizer this week, too.

And for those of you visiting the Library this week and next, the results of Dzintra’s weaving activity, along with even more examples of historical weaving, are up on display at the moment. Do go and have a look – and yes: she was wearing that iron age dress on Saturday. (And Dorothy was wearing her iron age trousers, too, but I’m not sure whether anyone caught that on camera!)

The hillfort mindfulness walk on Sunday was also a great success, despite the wet and windy weather. We’re putting that walk together as a small booklet, which will be part of our upcoming exhibition at Oswestry Library next month. In addition to the walk itself, the booklet will also include new illustrations, including linocuts of the hillfort done by Designs in Mind artists.

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“Old Oswestry Hillfort” linocut by Kevin Gibson, 2019

 

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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.

Dzintra has been busy at Oswestry Library this month with her butterfly project – and, following on from discussions about the BioBlitz at our last meeting, she has included Old Oswestry Hillfort as a recommended butterfly spotting location!

Next time you’re in the Library, check out her display:

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NATURE AT YOUR DOORSTEP

Butterflies and Moths

Hand drawn and hand painted by Dzintra Bernsaida

Through my displays in the library, I like to encourage people to go outside and explore nature.  This time it’s butterflies!

Do you see how colourful they are and how just watching them can cheer you up?  Maybe some of them are in your garden, local park or even our very own Old Oswestry Hillfort.

Just sit quietly and wait to see what will happen. Maybe one of the butterflies will land near you and you can see all their beautiful colours and patterns.  If you can spot some of the butterflies I’ve shown here and say the name to your family and friends you will sound like a cool nature expert!

Dzintra Bernsaida is a Community Artist, a member of the Oswestry Makes team, a member of the Hillfort Creativity group and a good friend to Oswestry library. 

Hillfort Creativity Group Meeting

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The next meeting of the Hillfort Creativity Group will be on Wed. May 8th at 11am in the Meeting Room at Oswestry Library (not Hermon Chapel, as we thought). All creative-minded people are warmly invited: visual artists, musicians, writers, makers, crafters, etc.

We’ll start with some brief information about upcoming exhibitions and events, and then short updates from anyone who has been working on creative hillfort-related projects. We’ll then have our inaugural “creative talk” – not a lecture or a presentation! – from local historian, archaeologist and illustrator John Swogger about the hillfort’s long life-story. These talks are meant to be a spur to creativity, so you are invited (encouraged!) to write, sketch, knit, doodle, etc. during the talk, as well as press the speaker with creative questions.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

Making it up as we go along!

Like it was made yesterday - Inside out art activity day at Oswestry Library. Soon to be a regular event?

Like it was made yesterday – Inside out art activity day at Oswestry Library. Soon to be a regular event?

Another great art activity day at Oswestry Library timed to coincide with Apple Day on the Bailey Head and the culmination of this year’s “Oswestry Makes” festival.

Well-supplied with almost twenty kilos of scrap fabric (courtesy of Inside Out’s favourite mystery artist) Sue Mann, Freja and myself set up two tables at the front of the library and spent four enjoyable hours creating. We had a steady stream of kids through the morning, making costumes with Freja, sewing apples with Sue, and making rag plaits with me. By the end of the afternoon we’d turned out waistcoats and wizard capes, two branches worth of fabric apples (now hanging up by the Poe-tree display) and ten metres of rag plait!

Outreach is an important part of what it means to be an artist. Locking oneself and ones creativity away can end up being a bit selfish. It’s important to recognise that if we want to be part of the community at large, we have to get out into that community sometimes. Galleries and open studios and exhibitions are all very well, but these venues can still be very intimidating and alien spaces to some people, despite the best intentions of artists. The “outside” part of Inside Out is about getting art (and artists) “out there” – getting art in shops, like our Mind, Body & Spirit exhibition; or outside shops, like Marja’s and Jim’s murals; or above shops – like Jas‘ sculptures; in places like pubs – like Geoff’s digital photo exhibition in The Griffin; or in the library – like our Art and the Word exhibition for National Libraries Day.

This was only our second time doing an activity day like this in the library, so we’re still learning – learning how to best set up and publicise the events, how to organise them and structure them, and what sort of materials and activities work best. I’m now putting a lot of this garnered wisdom together and will be liaising with Debbie at the Library to organise these activity days into a regular, possibly monthly event – and you’re all welcome to get involved! Of course, not all of us are cut out to be teachers, but in a group it’s easy to take part at your own pace and in your own way. And what’s great about having different artists get involved is that each brings their own, unique take to the activity.

So I’ll be posting more information about this new “Make and Do” project soon. In the meantime, anyone interested in getting involved should get in touch!

Richard III and the art of history

"Pembrokeshire Lane", Audrey Johns (from "Postcards from the past" at the Pure Art Gallery, Milford Haven Marina (via walesonline.co.uk)

“Pembrokeshire Lane”, Audrey Johns (from “Postcards from the past” at the Pure Art Gallery, Milford Haven Marina (via walesonline.co.uk)

Inside Out’s National Libraries Day event at Oswestry Library was in the Shropshire Star again this week, mentioned in an article about John Swogger’s comic on Richard III. The comic also features in an article on the University of Leicester’s press pages talking about the various comic artists and writers who have been inspired by the discovery.

There’s an important point to be made about narrating history, here. It does seem to be the case that successfully presenting the past requires more than just text – that it needs a visual “hook” as well. If that’s the case, what does that say about art’s relationship with time, memory and landscape? Is there something unique about the way that art taps into the past? So many artists seem to want to consciously evoke or present their own connection to the past in their work. Is there something perhaps about the creative working process that captures something significant about time?

Our latest exhibition at The Hand is entitled Ceiriog: Past, present and future, and I’m hoping that the works that go up in the dining room will reflect this ability of art to capture the flow of history within a landscape. Certainly this sense of a place with a deeply-rooted past is one of the things that visitors find so attractive about the valley – and art very much seems to be one of the things that can unfold that story for people.

Inside Out – coming soon!

IMG_0211We’ve already got a full schedule of events and exhibitions for the rest of the year. We discussed some of them at the meeting yesterday – here’s a summary of what’s coming soon:

  • Mind, Body & Spirit – The exhibition is now up in Rowanthorn, and should be up in EnergyCreative next week. We’ve had one short note in the Oswestry Advertiser about the exhibition this week, and we’re getting a longer article and a photograph in next week’s ‘Tizer. As the exhibition lasts for three months, we’ll be switching some of the work around half-way through (mid-July). There are fifteen artists taking part at the moment, but if anyone else wants to take part, please get in touch, as the mid-July switch-over will give you a chance.
  • Rowanthorn – Mike at Rowanthorn is looking for other exhibitions to take over after the Mind, Body & Spirit exhibition finishes in September. He’s particularly looking for interesting and intriguing work  – stuff that’s a bit different. He had work in the shop by Jim Fox earlier this year – really unusual constructions made out of skulls, bone and dolls, and is looking for similarly off-beat works. Anyone interested, get in touch with Mike directly.
  • Creepy House, Oswestry Library – The library’s Summer Reading Challenge theme is “Creepy House”. There’s an activity day scheduled for July 13th, when an illustration/construction creepy house will be drawn/built in the library. The library will be providing all the necessary materials. Anyone interested in taking part should let us know and then come along to the library on July 13th. I’ll post more details later in the month.
  • Ceiriog, at The Hand at Llanarmon, Llanarmon D.C. – We’re installing the last part of our year-long exhibition on the Ceiriog Valley and River at The Hand. This third part is themed: Ceiriog: Past, present and future. The exhibition will last through the summer. Anyone still wanting to take part should get in touch in the next couple of weeks.
  • Art & Poetry, Oswestry Library – Next National Libraries Day is in February 2014, and we’re thinking of doing something connecting local art and local poetry. Collaborations, partnerships, connections – there are a whole bunch of ideas about how we might bring art and poetry together. We’ll definitely be doing another art day in the library in February, and we’ll set up some kind of exhibition beforehand. Nothing’s set in stone yet – we’re going to be thinking about this idea through the summer, so if you have any suggestions, do get in touch.
  • Underhill Farm – Lots going on at the farm, including pretty elaborate plans to build kilns to fire the local clay. Plus Paul Stocking’s bamboo arch has been sited next to the newly-planted willow wood, and Wilf’s “Woodline” continues to evolve as the seasons change. Plenty of reasons for return visits through the summer – and we’re planning to hold July’s Inside Out meeting at the farm again, just so everyone gets another chance to spend some time at the farm. We’re also planning some more art and activity days through the summer, and we’ll continue to talk about ideas for next year’s Art & Craft event, including the suggestion that we should build some kind of “symposium” into the event.

Meetings:

  • Our July meeting will be at Underhill Farm, and we’re hoping that Brenda Sandilands will spend some time talking about her recent work. The remainder of the time we’ll spend doing some art!
  • Our August meeting will be at Wilf Thust’s Studio, and he’ll be showing some ideas for fixing and exhibiting, rather as he did at his workshop at The Willow last year.

As usual, meetings are at 2pm on the first Wednesday of the month.

Sketching Days:

We’ve no sketching days planned, but I was wondering if we might want to do a market-town day in Oswestry, perhaps? If so, we could tie it into the Mind, Body & Spirit exhibition and sit for a while outside Rowanthorn – it’s lovely there in the sunshine. Anyway, just an idea; we’ll keep you posted.

Boo!

Things That Go Bump in Oswestry Library! illustration by Jean-Marc Labal.

Things That Go Bump in Oswestry Library! illustration by Jean-Marc Labal.

Anyone want to help make a big illustration of a creepy house?

Creepy House is Oswestry Library’s summer reading challenge theme this year. On Saturday July 13th, between 1 – 4pm, Heather and Debbie at the library will be helping kids make a big “Creepy House” illustration for the library wall. It will be designed so that kids taking part in the reading challenge can put their photos into the illustration poster once it’s finished.

Debbie was wondering if some of the group might be able to be on hand to help out and give the illustration some genuine artistic creepiness!

As usual, anyone interested please get in touch – I’ll also mention this again at our meeting next Wednesday at Underhill Farm.

Jim Heath at Oswestry Library

Guarding the Stairs - Jim Heath.

Guarding the Stairs – Jim Heath.

Jim Heath is holding two art events at Oswestry Library this month:

Meet The Artist: Friday 24th May 11am -1pm. A chance to meet local artist Jim Heath and talk to him about his May exhibition of acrylic paintings of RNLI stations around the country.

Painting with acrylic inks: Thursday 30th May 10am-3pm. Workshop – charge: £30. For those with experience as well as beginners. Bring sketchbooks/sources of inspiration. Boards, inks, brushes/tools will be provided. Please book and pay for your place via Oswestry Library 01691 677388. Tea and coffee provided. Bring and share lunch.

Two great events – particularly for anyone wanting to introduce someone to working with acrylic inks, or wanting to have a go themselves. Please pass the dates around to people you think might be interested!

 

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