A Tudor Farmhouse built in 1590, Blakesley Hall is tucked away in a Birmingham residential street lined with terraced houses. Artist Rita Patel led weekly creative sessions in the barn at Blakesley, overlooking the flourishing herb garden which surrounds the building.
The setting instantly lent itself to using the Tudor house and garden as a stimulus for the activities. The participants took part in various different activities including printing, drawing, wire work, and creating models of miniature gardens.
Highlights included a session inspired by the original medicinal herb room in Blakesley Hall. The session started with a group activity to recognise various herb seeds and plants by sight, touch and scent. This encouraged discussion between them on the different properties and benefits of herbs and also how scents can evoke a memory, feeling or emotion.
The group then selected the herbs they liked to make their own teas, using herbs such as fennel, mint, lavender, cardamom. The participants then selected a plant/seed to create a drawing which was then transferred onto a poly tile for printing repeating designs with lino inks.
The location provided a wealth of inspiration from the organic forms in the garden to the structural lines of the building, furniture and interior fabrics inside the Hall.
Another session involved working in monochrome using simple materials, of strips of black card & white paper to represent an aspect of Blakesley Hall.
A drawing tour inside the Tudor house and its surroundings gave the opportunity for the participants to develop further ideas and experiment with different techniques during the sessions.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG)
Rita introduced an activity each week inspired by BMAG’s collections, exhibitions and its architecture.
Activities included using original William Morris drawings and designs as a starting point for mono printing, which then led to using leaves and plant life to make wire structures
to create 3D compositions stitched onto canvases.
“There were exciting moments when there were artwork reveals, such as peeling back printworks or heating copper metal and seeing the magic of the colour changing when they quenched it with a sizzle in the water and the metal turned into various oxidised shades of iridescent reds. Seeing and hearing their reactions of surprise and smiles was brilliant”. Rita
The interesting architecture of BMAG also gave the scope for design ideas. The participants created tile prints using images of the floor tiles, picture frames, iron work and ceilings and windows from around the museum.
During another session the group worked from printed maps of Birmingham to create abstract drawings using a range of old rural maps & recent roads maps of the city centre. They created unique patterns & artworks representing spatial outlines of the local city centre area where Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is located.
Participants could sign up to be part of an online group once the Createspace sessions moved from face to face sessions to a virtual project. The artists continued setting weekly creative workshops that could be accessed from home, and the process gave participants time to reflect and respond to the activity.
The activities explored themes looking at creativity through simple everyday things that connected to the 5 ways of wellbeing. Sessions have included a variety of activities from looking at things with a new view [perspective, perception or fine detail), tea inspired stories working on dried teabags, time & resistance, and expressing ideas through experimenting with different techniques.
Rita shared the activity each week along with examples of artworks and inspiration from relevant and diverse artists as well as online exhibition resources. The artist was able to offer support and feedback through the online space and participants were able to share their artwork with the group, interact, comment and show their work in progress.