High Quality Art Materials gifted to RAW
Leigh 'Finlee Russell' Saunders was an extraordinarily talented Birmingham based artist, sculptor, musician and film maker. He was a good friend of Alex Vann, founder of RAW and the pair worked together on music and video projects and met through mutual friend, Birmingham singer song writer Rich McMahon, who passed away in 2015.
Leigh created an army of plasticine characters called 'The Smiley Dudes' which spread a message of fun and positivity around the globe. Below is a video of him delivering a hundred Smiley Dudes to children at the Rare Disease Summer Party in 2017.
Unfortunately Leigh lost his battle with cancer in March 2021. We were overwhelmed when heard from the family that they'd like to pass on his art materials so that we can use them with our groups and in that way keep his creative legacy alive.
We'd like to publicly thank the family and will continue to post examples of work on our social media channels using his materials using the hash tag #FinleesLegacy
Above are just a few examples of work Alex has created, either as examples on virtual art sessions with various groups including British Deaf Association, Deaf Plus, Mossley Community Arts Club, or face to face at Percy Shurmer Academy, Birmingham or commissioned work. The Pop Art painting of The Man On The Horse is on show at The Chindit pub in Wolverhampton until August 2021.
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 email@example.com or text him on 07472 958534 to let him know if you are coming.
2019 has seen us working with a wide range of ages already. We love to hear the stories from adults and also enjoy when they take ownership of their own work. Some examples of our work with the older generation are here.
Greetings Cards at BID Services: Gary led on this session at Deaf Cultural Centre in Birmingham. The artists used traditional card making techniques such as decoupage and collage as well as new technology – typesetting and sourcing images online which can be printed off during the session to create truly bespoke cards for loved ones.
Presentation to ZEBRA ACCESS Coffee morning at Lighthouse Media Centre.
We made a Wish Tree and Deaf people wrote on tags what they’d like from a potential Art Club. We also encouraged them to make small drawings which were hung on the tree. Despite many protestations of ‘I can’t draw’ I think you’ll agree the results beg to differ. It was really encouraging to see such imaginative work and watch this space to see if we get to produce more work with the Zebra Access group.
Card making at Pensnett and Brierley Hill Active Retirement. Similar to the session at BID Services, this time we met a secret poet. A 92 year old gentleman wrote and recited his own poem about the pros and cons of drinking spirits! It went down a bomb with everyone – a real tonic!
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
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.
On Tuesday 17th July RAW was at Lyng Community Association Youth Club.
To link in with their recent trip to the zoo, we were asked to deliver a session based on animal art.
Alex led this session and showed the young people examples of his own animal art: pencil drawings and watercolour paintings, and then demonstrated a drawing - combining new and old technologies.
A old video camera was linked to a projector and pointed at the paper as Alex drew a picture of a lion. Charcoal was the primary medium in this workshop because of its immediate and effective mark making capabilities. This suits the drama of animals associated with the safari.
The young people then had a choice of animal to draw - this could be Gorilla, Lion, Elephant, Meerkat, Rhino or any other animal they liked. Here are the young people hard at work:
And here are some final pieces which were made into a pop up art gallery
The last part of the session was dedicated to creating a LARGE, like HUGE painting / collage of a giraffe and a zebra:
The final magnificent piece
Lyng Community Association Youth Club runs every Tuesday evening in term time, 4-7pm for anyone aged 10-17. More information here
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.