Quarantine Quilt

People from across the country will be contributing to a Quarantine Quilt.

The Quilt will be created as part of a project by Devon-based organisation Significant Seams CIC, which  has received Arts Council England funding to lead a national stitching  project in response to the effect Coronoavirus is having on our lives.

People are invited to send stitched words or designs which reflect their feelings and responses to the pandemic.

The project is inviting people to make patches for one of several community quilt projects across the country. They are also providing free learning materials online, and developing new ways to deliver remote arts-based courses. The first courses will be delivered free to Devon residents this summer via Devon Recovery Learning Community, which is part of Devon NHS Partnership Trust.

An emerging network of organisations, artists, and projects across the UK are producing quilts in response to Covid-19 and the changes it has had on people’s lives. Significant Seams is also examining the evidence for the health and wellbeing benefits of these activities. Alongside Significant Seams, so far,  there are projects in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Essex, Bradford, Derbyshire, West, Derbyshire, Somerset and West Yorkshire. These include textile projects in response to Covid-19, arts & health organisations, and community organisations supporting one or more such projects.

Everyone is invited to contribute one of two types of patches:

A stitched word for ‘The Wall of Words’ on a 5inch high x 7 inch wide rectangle with a word or phrase within the 4 x 6 inch centre area (leaving a ½” seam allowance all the way around the design. Alternately (or additionally) SW residents are encouraged to submit

Any design representing feelings, responses and experiences related to the coronoavirus pandemic on 7 inch squares with your design centered within the 6inch centre area.

Patches should be sent to: Significant Seams, Apple Studio,  ℅ Carpenters Cottage, Crediton Hamlets EX17 5BX

The Quarantine Quilt will be part of an online exhibition in the first instance. Further plans are subject to evolving circumstances.

Artist seeks ceramic fragments with stories to tell

Artist David Mach is appealing for broken pieces of pottery with a story behind them. He is asking people to send the fragments to help create a new artwork for St Austell, Cornwall.

Ceramic memories might include the handle of a cup that was bought on honeymoon 35 years ago, a shard of a decorated plate found on the beach, or part of a favourite mug that got broken and just couldn’t be thrown away.

During lockdown, while many people are digging the garden or investigating the contents of drawers as part of a spring clean, they are encouraged to collect any pottery pieces they find so that they can be part of the newceramic collage.

The artist will use thousands of fragments to create a major new public artwork, ‘Earthly Delights’, which is part of a programme of new commissions by The Whitegold Project.

David Mach said:
“China clay was exported to make pottery, and connects St Austell with the rest of the world. This new artwork will celebrate that far-reaching impact of the Cornish China Clay industry.

“I’m asking people to send me pieces of pottery with a story to tell. We’ve all got something at the back of a drawer – the broken fragment of something that we couldn’t throw away because of the special memory it carried. I want to hear that story – was it a piece of a broken thimble your mother used to use, a spout from a beloved teapot, a piece of a commemorative plate you bought in holiday….”.

Over many years, David Mach collected thousands of pieces of pottery on his local beach in Methil, Fife. The fragments were made with the same clay that is sent around the world from Cornwall. The artist wants to use donated pieces to make his installation, and to extend that connection. The commission will be almost 20 metres wide and will decorate a wall in St Austell.

Whitegold Project curator Alex Murdin said:
“This is a wonderful way to involve everyone in creating this impressive new work of art for a public space that tells the intimate histories of china clay. We’re hoping that people from St Austell and further afield will send pieces of ceramic and share their special stories to help create something that connects St Austell and Cornwall’s heritage with places around the world”

Donated ceramic pieces might include a fragment of an old treasured possession, or something found in the back garden whilst digging during lockdown. They could be a small fragment the size of a postage stamp or a larger, whole piece.

Contributions, along with any stories behind them, should be posted to:
Earthly Delights, St Austell BID Office, Burton House, Trinity Street, St. Austell, PL25 5LS. The risk of viral transmission through the post is minimal, but it is still important to follow hand hygiene procedures when sending mail. Those sending donations are asked to: follow Public Health England guidance and wash their hands thoroughly when preparing post, where possible to send a package which can go through a letterbox, to purchase Royal Mail postage online and to maintain social distancing if visiting post offices.

Spreading creativity in Torquay

People in Chelston, Torquay have been making willow sculptures to decorate their gardens during lockdown.

The idea began when a community project to create willow sculptures for the local parks was put on hold. Local people wanted to continue making sculptures, and found a way to share their creations with others. Woven willow hearts and stars are now hanging in windows, on doors and around front gardens so that anyone taking their daily walk can enjoy them.

Celebrate Chelston is a project designed to increase residents’ pride in where they live, grow a greater sense of community and encourage people to take part in creative activities. As part of Torbay’s Great Place Scheme, it is one of a number of initiatives to improve people’s wellbeing through arts and heritage.

When the community workshops were postponed, Coach House Arts – the organisation behind the willow-weaving – quickly found a new way for residents to continue their creativity. Over 200 small mini willow sculpture kits have been sent in the post, instruction videos made available, and the results shared in gardens and online for everyone to see.

Celebrate Chelston lead artist Vik Westaway said:
We’re building a sense of community and collective endeavour even though we must all stay at home. Local people really enjoyed the community workshops before lockdown, and it’s encouraging to see the living willow sculptures which we made back then for local parks have now started to grow. The residents of Chelston have responded so enthusiastically to this new way to keep the creativity going. It’s wonderful to see people looking out for the hearts and stars hanging in people’s gardens when they’re on their walks.”

Cllr Mike Morey, Cabinet member for Infrastructure, Environment & Culture; and Board member of Torbay Culture said:
“Celebrate Chelston!’ really caught the imagination of residents. What started as a creative group activity has had to adapt to the extraordinary circumstances we’re living through. That’s made it even more special – it’s connecting people creatively, whilst we follow the NHS advice, and stay apart.  Celebrate Chelston! has truly captured people’s hearts.”

Celebrate Chelston is a Torbay Culture project in partnership with Torbay Community Development Trust as part of the Great Place Scheme

Whitegold Ceramics Prize 2020 shortlist announced

Worth over £20,000, the prize is part of the Whitegold Project, an initiative set in St Austell in the heart of Cornwall. The Project aims to create art, craft and design inspired by the area’s industrial and post-industrial landscape and its global china clay connections.

Conviviality is the theme of the second Whitegold Prize, to be awarded to ceramics projects which enable convivial community interactions through their engagement with food and clay.

Applications were invited which combine environmental sustainability with creativity. Themes include cooking, eating, drinking, creating a festive and sociable environment, ceramics for growing, works that consider clay as a part of the soil and life cycle, and environmentally friendly food production.

Selected from a strong field of international entries, the shortlisted projects are:

Clayground Collective
Creative practitioners Duncan Hooson, Claire West and Julia Rowntree collaborate across artforms to engage the public, educators and researchers through clay.

Francesca Anfossi
Francesca Anfossi’s interdisciplinary practice takes the tradition of crafts as a starting point to make and collaborate, using ceramic as a core material.

Portland Inn Project
The Portland Inn Project is a creative arts project for a community in Stoke-on-Trent that aims to achieve community cohesion, economic, social and cultural development.

Adam Sutherland, Grizedale Arts
Grizedale Arts is a local resource and  an international arts organisation. Its activity is drawn from existing, available resources, from raw materials to cultural heritage.

Whitegold Project Co-Curator Katie Bunnell said:
“The Prize recognises outstanding ceramic practices that connect people, culture and place. The aim of this year’s prize is to inspire projects which use ceramics to encourage conviviality and connections within local communities. We are hoping that shortlisted artists will be able to start working remotely with local communities through digital technologies. We just don’t know how things will play out in the longer term, but we are hopeful at this stage that ‘hands on’ community projects will go ahead later in the summer. While the future is uncertain we feel it is important to recognise the hard work and extraordinary creativity from all our applicants. In particular, we wanted to share the good news about the shortlisted artists, and to give the people of St Austell something to look forward to when the time is right.”

The shortlisted artists and groups are each invited to develop a proposal for a new community project for St Austell that uses clay and food to bring people together. The Whitegold jurors will review these four new proposals and select two finalists who will be allocated a budget of £2,500 each to produce and complete their project.

The original aim was for these projects to coincide with the Whitegold Festival in September 2020. The Whitegold jurors would then experience the final outcomes and work with the local community to make the final decision about which of the finalists would win the Quartz award of £10,000 and who will be awarded the £5000 Feldspar Award.

The 2020 jurors are:

Neil Brownsword – International Ceramic Artist Educator. Winner of the Whitegold Quartz Award, 2019
Caroline Cheng – International Ceramic Artist and Director of the Pottery Workshop
Céline Holman – Curator, Eden Project Ltd
Ashley Shopland – General Manager Imerys UK, St Austell, Cornwall
Ben Quinn – Canteen Cornwall and Woodfired Canteen
Katie Bunnell – Co-Curator, Whitegold Project


Museum collections inspire new music

Music in the Galleries
Sat 7 March Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter

A Chinese gown, a giraffe and a collection of pocket watches are amongst the museum objects that have inspired the composers of new music to be performed in the galleries at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

The performance is part of the international Festival of Contemporary Music for All.

Thirteen new pieces of music have been specially commissioned by the Devon Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO), whose players and singers will perform in small ensembles around the museum. The audience will walk through the galleries, choosing their route, and stopping to listen to the performances while looking at the objects.

The composers have taken their inspiration from a wide range of museum artefacts, including a Chinese gown, microscopic diatoms, an Inuit map carved onto a bone, a collection of pocket watches, and RAMM’s famous Gerald the Giraffe. The new compositions will reflect a range of musical styles with influences from Indian music, jazz and other genres.

At the end of the performance, a finale, composed by Devon Phil’s Music Director Leo Geyer, will be performed by all the players and singers, and heard all around the museum.

Cllr Rachel Sutton, Portfolio Holder for Climate & Culture said:
“We’re delighted that RAMM’s wonderful objects have provided the inspiration for this new music. It’s been a very exciting project for RAMM to work on with the Exeter-based Devon Philharmonic Orchestra, and the performance promises to create a magical atmosphere in the museum. “

In addition to work by eight experienced
composers, five emerging composers will have their new pieces played. Each has received a bursary and mentorship from DPO’s Music Director to help them to create their own work inspired by the museum’s collections.

The project has received funding from Arts Council England, and is in partnership with the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery.

Music in the Galleries is at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum at 7.30 on Sat 7 March. (doors & bar open 6.45). More information and tickets are available from  http://bit.ly/MusicInTheGalleries.