2020 is clearly a year that will go down in history. The world has been rocked by a global pandemic and the toll on personal lives is huge and the effects will be felt for years to come.
We have been very busy doing what we can to continue to reach our audiences as we strongly believe that there is no better time for people to engage in arts activities - not least because of the numerous positive mental well being benefits.
Here are a few of the things that have kept us busy during this time - please do get in touch if you'd like any more information about any of this activity.
Free online resources during Covid-19
You may already have seen that we have created a new page on this site dedicated to free resources, downloads and 'how to' guides during Covid-19. Click on 'Free Resources During Covid-19'.
Please do have a look and scroll to see if there is something that interests you and feel free to share with your contacts.
This has meant we have been able to produce worksheets, videos and activities which we might not have done otherwise.
Art activity packs
We were delighted to be asked by our regular customer, Mossley Big Local to provide 100 art activity packs to residents of all ages. These are funded by Lottery Community Fund so there is no cost to families.
The bags include a biodegrade carrier, basic art materials and we have created bespoke creative activities worksheets for which we think most households will already have resources for. We also delivered a number of packs to Mattesly Court Housing 21 residential home for older people.
Feedback has been great and there are a few photos below.
Virtual Art Workshops
We are very lucky to live in age where technology can bring people together. During Covid-19 we have used video conferencing apps to be able to deliver virtual art sessions to a number of customers. We don't think you can beat face to face contact however this tech has enabled us to deliver demonstrations and facilitate sessions with a number of different groups - some which rely on art activity to keep the mind and bodies active. This has also meant we have developed planning strategies which we will continue after lockdown.
Above, wonderful self portraits at Bid Services, Birmingham
Above, just a few photos from recent weekly community art club sessions for Mossley Big Local
Above, some of the artwork created by young people attending the online #BigLinkUp sessions for the Hub at Ashmore Park, Wolverhampton
Alex on WCR Radio every Monday
Alex has been doing regular weekly interviews with Chris Allen on Wolverhampton's WCR radio on Monday mornings, around 10-11am - talking about the importance of staying active creatively during Covid-19 and setting a weekly creative challenge. Click the logo below to visit their website which has listen live and listen again facilities.
Our annual review video is now on YouTube! Please spend a few minutes out of your day to see all the ways in which RAW has grown in 2019. We have delivered AT LEAST 118 separate workshop sessions, reached 439 people directly with our work and collaborated with at least 19 different agencies
Here are a few standout moments, though these get added to daily!
Here are a few more images from what has been a 'full on' year, delivering high quality bespoke art sessions to all sorts of community groups:
A typical summer with RAW: creating art from nature; sign song performance; an art gallery and University visit; painting picnic benches and meeting the Mayor of Wolverhampton!
We had an amazing (and busy) time over Summer with various activities aimed at enriching the arts experience of young people in the Midlands.
Working with HeadStart Wolverhampton, we delivered the Summer Arts Programme at Low Hill Hub. We are hoping to enter some of the young people into the Arts Award 'Explore' qualification and part of that is visiting and exploring an Arts Organisation and the lovely staff at Wolverhampton Art Gallery facilitated a fascinating behind the scenes visit. Whilst we were there we bumped in the Mayor of Wolverhampton (as you do!) Claire Darke who invited them to visit her parlour a different day. Which we did, see more about that below.
We also worked with our colleagues at BID Services Birmingham again, on a brilliant 'Messy Nature Art' workshop which started with the young people gathering natural materials from a local park and then creating paintings and 3D items. All the young people are Deaf or Hard of hearing and as RAW members Alex and Gary both sign, this is not an issue!
We think their artwork looks great:
Messy Nature Art
We ran the Messy Nature Art session again with the young people at Low Hill Hub and again we were impressed with the results
We also got them to paint the picnic benches outside which were looking a bit worse for wear!
Knife Crime Prevention
An important issue to us is the prevention of knife crime. We have developed a highly creative and interactive workshop around that which gets young people asking themselves questions about their own paths: where they see themselves years into the future, what qualifications they will need to get where they want to be, who their role models are so that they can make positive decisions about their own futures. We used the huge interactive graffiti screen at Low Hill Hub, created a pop up art gallery with anti knife pledges and integrated sign language into it too. Here are a few pics:
Day Trips to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Mayor and University of Wolverhampton
We wanted to take the young people out of Low Hill Hub on a cultural visit to the Art Gallery - as this would broaden their horizons and also go towards Arts Award evidence if they decided they'd like to do that qualification which is recognised on the government's framework. We had a fascinating behind the scenes tour from the senior curator, Carol. We learnt that there are about 18,000 items in the gallery collections, some of which have to be stored in stable humidity because they are so old, delicate and fragile.
The young people then got a tour of the galleries, made drawings of what they saw and asked LOADS of questions!
While we were at the gallery we bumped into Mayor of Wolverhampton, Claire Darke, who was happy to come and talk to the young people. she invited them to her parlour and as she and RAW founder Alex Vann are both University of Wolverhampton alumni we combined a visit with the university where the young people saw Alex's design 'Support Life' which was part of the Wolves in Wolves project. They made drawings of the sculpture and asked Alex questions about it. Again this can go towards their Arts Award qualification.
Here are a few pictures from the day:
A Song for Low Hill
We were pleased to be invited to the Bushbury EMB annual festival. We had a stall doing arts activities for young people who drop in and we also performed a brand new song 'A Song For Low Hill' for which our regular group had learnt sign language for.
Here is a YouTube clip of the performance:
...and a few photos from the day and of the artwork the young people created for the lyrics so everyone in the audience could join in singing.
Working with BID Services Youth Club
May 6-12th was Deaf Awareness Week in the UK. RAW delivered several projects including one with BID Services Youth Club, Birmingham based around Deaf identity. It followed on from an earlier project we ran with adults in Wolverhampton where we created a giant (5ft high) cardboard sculpture of signing hands, decorated with posters, drawings and words made by Deaf and hearing people (see photos at the bottom of this blog).
Young people with the final giant signing hands, now in the reception of BID SERVICES.
Some of the brilliant creative work being made.
Deaf Awareness at Mossley Community Arts Club
Our very own #DAWRoleModels2019 Gary O'Dowd led a Deaf Awareness session as part of our regular Community Arts Club on Tuesday evenings, 4.30-6.30pm at Mattesley Court, Walsall.
Giant signing hands for DeafFest 2019
A slideshow of closeups of the artwork created by mixed hearing and Deaf people at our joint Art Day with Zebra Access at Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton.
The sculpture will be on show at Deaffest at Lighthouse Media Centre 17-19 May 2019. RAW will have at stall 10am-4pm on Saturday 18th May. Come and meet us!
We are excited to be working in association with Deaf organisation ZEBRA ACCESS on a unique art project at Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton WV1 4AN.
The day starts at 10.30am and finishes at 3.30pm with an hour for lunch (there is a cafe on site or you can bring your own). We will be making a 3D sculpture using recycled materials - exploring Deaf identity, culture and experiences. There are craft activities for children too. Hearing friends and family are welcome.
This is a free event but please email firstname.lastname@example.org or text him on 07472 958534 to let him know if you are coming.
2018 has been an amazing year for RAW (watch the short video above).
It's the year we really reignited the flame of Real Arts Workshops, which began life as a university art project in 1996 and then went on hold for the best part of 20 years.
We've forged new relationships with 13 organisations, delivered (over) 75 separate workshop sessions and designed at least 15 brand new and unique projects - all with the same goal: to break down barriers, improve confidence and encourage self expression.
In a climate of austerity never has there been such a need for the restorative powers of art, music and craft. People of all ages get affected by issues of mental health and our projects are designed to be accessible by all, regardless of perceived barriers.
We've enjoyed delivering the HeadStart Wolverhampton art club on Friday evenings at Low Hill Hub. The video above gives a nice snapshot of the work we've done.
The programme runs until Friday 14th December 2018 - so there is still time for young people (10-16) to come along for free, 4-6pm.
We've done so much great work: Cardboard Wolves in Wolves, Poppy crafting for Remembrance, Halloween crafts, Wild Animal art, 5 Ways to Well-being posters, song-writing, Pop Up Art Gallery, British Sign Language and so much more.
Thanks to HeadStart for supporting, we hope we can work together again in 2019
Doors 4 Thought at St Martin's C of E
For a week, beginning on Monday 1st October 2018 we worked with all the pupils at St Martin’s C of E School in Tipton to create large scale artwork with a difference.
The aim of the ‘Doors For Thought’ project was to decorate 17 of the classroom doors with the key values of the school.
Each year group had 2 doors to decorate, one for their own classroom and one for another internal door in the school. Each door has it’s own ‘theme’ based on 17 of the school values or ‘character strengths’ such as ‘respect’; ‘humility’ and ‘creativity’.
We have been delighted that the children were so enthusiastic about this project. It is a unique way to represent the values of St Martin’s and engage learners with art activity.” Alex Vann, Founder of RAW
British Sign Language (BSL) was also integrated into the art sessions which were held in the main hall of the school. A member of RAW, Gary O’Dowd, is profoundly Deaf and uses BSL to communicate. BSL translations of the theme words are printed onto the doors both as signs and as fingerspelt words.
We were delighted to be asked to deliver the art sessions for HeadStart Wolverhampton Summer Activities in Low Hill + The Scotlands areas.
RAW is all about ‘Giving People a Creative Voice’. That is achieved through providing a platform for people to use the Arts to express themselves; break down barriers; build confidence; encourage team work; have fun; try something new and learn new skills.
We are aware of the work HeadStart does in supporting the mental wellbeing of young people and wanted our activities to reflect that.
We designed a varied programme which included –
- inspired by a series of postcards created by a teenager dealing with her own mental health issues. Young people were encouraged to draw and paint what makes them happy / unhappy and use innovative ways of expressing that, including collage and use of text / vocabulary. They designed masks on paper first and then painted on plain masks mounted onto canvas. These were then photographed and made into postcards. Here are a few examples of their work:
This was the messiest art work we’ve done! (Cofi)
I felt happy (Nicole)
The Tree Of Hope
- decorated with print outs of artwork they’d created previously, ‘wish tags’ - written tags about a general wish they have for the world and drawings and statements about their hopes and aspirations for the future.
British Sign Language and Deaf Awareness
- led by RAW team member Gary, who is profoundly Deaf. This included the 'Numberplate Game' to test the young people had learnt fingerspelling and numbers in BSL.
I found it really interesting – learning sign language and about blind and deaf people. It was good creating the images for the posters. (Emma)
It’s really good and I enjoyed learning sign language (Brinley)
Performing the HeadStart song in Sign Language
The young put their newly found sign language skills to good use and produced a video of them signing along to the HeadStart song which was written by young people in association with Rock School Music. The song is all about the worries some young people feel when they leave primary education and start 'big school'.
I enjoyed all of it. I was kind of nervous seeing myself on the video (doing sign language to the HeadStart song) but my confidence is growing. (Keira)
Portrait drawing in proportion
Alex demonstrated a quick way to divide a 'headspace' to get the features in the right positions.
'The 5 Ways To Wellbeing': pledges and poster designs
We used the NHS '5 ways to wellbeing' as a starting point for young people to think how they could 1. Connect; 2. Give; 3. Keep Learning; 4. Take Notice and 5. Keep Active.
We have been very pleased with the work created and hope that the young people have something they will feel proud of and remember for years to come.
Alex Vann and Gary O’Dowd.
Feedback from the young people who took part
"I like doing art because I don’t get to do painting at home" (Corey)
"I found it really fun because I can finally have a chance to paint to my full potential" (Theo)
"I really enjoyed the art session" (Isabelle)
"It’s really good and I enjoyed learning sign language" (Brinley)
"It’s really fun to try new things and make friends, and understand what art is all about" (Nnedimma)
"I found it really interesting – learning sign language and about blind and deaf people. It was good creating the images for the posters." (Emma)
"I enjoyed all of it. I was kind of nervous seeing myself on the video (doing sign language to the HeadStart song) but my confidence is growing." (Keira)
"I enjoyed the art – I’ve always done art and love to express myself that way." (Demi)
"This was the messiest art work we’ve done!" (Cofi)
Mine is about anti-bullying.(Madison)
My painting shows good things at the top and bad at the bottom. (Lexi)
I felt happy (Nicole)
NB: Copyright in all of the original work shown here is owned by the originator(s) including the young people, and has been used with permission. All other artwork, photographs and video are © 2018 Real Arts Workshops.
Alex Vann is an all round creative. He formed RAW in 1997 out of a University project and restarted it in 2018 after working as a graphic designer for agencies and in-house for many years.