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 Summer Programme for City of Wolverhampton Council
We had a great experience over the 6 weeks summer holidays, delivering our "Summer Art Activities" programme for City of Wolverhampton Council's #WVHolidaySquad and #YES -Youth Engagement Strategy.
We designed and delivered a wide variety of art and craft activities for young people 10-16 and were totally blown away by the quality of work.
A few photos...
Our programme was delivered in two Covid 19 secure venues: 2 weeks at The Workspace, All Saints and 4 weeks at The Way Youth Zone. We observed the government guidelines for performing arts which also covers art groups like ours and are pleased to report no cases of Covid 19. This includes providing separate resource packs so there is no sharing of resources, social distancing and frequent hand washing among other things. Credit has to go to the young people who worked with enthusiasm throughout and were very sensible in observing these measures.
We reached many young people who were referred via Strengthening Families Hubs throughout the city. These young people were from different ethnic backgrounds; White British, Asian, Pakistani, Arab, Eastern European and Black Afro Caribbean.
A few more photos...!
We delivered some British Sign Language training along the way - in a fun and accessible way - WITH PRIZES!!
Your New Normal. My Normal
When we heard about the Common Ground project called “Your New Normal, My Normal”, organised by Changing Our Lives and funded by the Co-Op Foundation, about tackling loneliness in young people we did a couple of workshops with the young people and entered some of their work for the project. A judging panel chose not one but FOUR pieces of work by the young people which is currently in an online exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. We think exhibitions are a great way to celebrate the successes of people and go some way to building confidence in skills knowing that there is an audience for their work. Here is the link to the exhibition; https://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/changingourlives/
Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness
We were delighted to link up with Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness during this project.
Pom-Poms 4 Loneliness is dedicated to the distribution of home made pom poms in and around the Black Country. Each pom-pom represents a lonely or isolated person and by 'Pom-Bombing' they raise awareness about the situation that can face anyone. Our young people spent a day making pom-poms which they donated to the cause!
Yet more pics....!
We think they have all did incredibly well and have had the opportunity to try many different art forms and find their 'niche'. We received some lovely feedback:
We’d like to thank Wolverhampton City Council for funding this project and OnBoard Corrugated for donating cardboard for our group to use.
Special thanks to our volunteers Wayne, Sarah, Rachel, Sandra and Olivia who made this all possible, and our BSL interpreters Mad and Jemma
Here’s just a few of the things we did:
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:
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.
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.