Project Highlights

This page highlights the work of individual participants taking part in the CreateSpace programme across all of the project's groups.

The page will be updated at regular intervals throughout the project. Scroll down to look through the featured artists and their work.

Dotty Sutton

I will be forever grateful that I spotted the CreateSpace poster in Kinver Library last summer. Trying different art forms in each two-hourly session appealed to me. I have experience in technical drawing from many years ago but was a relative beginner with more free and creative art. It was a very friendly and relaxed group and I didn’t feel daunted by thoughts of not being good enough as most of us said we were unsure of our abilities. We soon were surprised at what we managed to achieve! Ben and Phil have been brilliant teachers and we were also supported initially by Kim Fuller and now by Sam Hale. We’re lucky enough to have guest artists too – Rita and Sarah from the Birmingham and Walsall groups have shared activities with us in recent weeks.

Personally, I could have easily been discouraged by a lack of confidence in what I produce, but the CreateSpace team were always so positive and encouraging with their comments on what we managed to achieve that this did not happen.

Trying different types of art and learning basics – from lino cutting and printing to self portraits – had us fully engrossed for two wonderful hours of art ‘therapy’ each week.

Throughout the course I had been amazed at the generous art supplies given to us and was so enthused to continue that, as lockdown approached, I stocked up with more brushes and paper. When lockdown happened, like a lot of people, I had to cope with isolation and some stressful times, so for CreateSpace to carry on as a virtual group has been a saving grace.

We look forward to a project each week, and find it interesting to see the different interpretations within the group. We’re given information about the subject and examples that Ben and Phil have made. The projects lead to such interesting information about different artists and recently, for example, we learnt more about the Staffordshire Hoard. The interaction between the group members is great and we’re finding out more about each other through our art, which is often drawn from our experiences in life.

The projects have provided me with a few laughs too. Trying to make triangular tea bags look like couples dancing, hunting around the house for suitable surfaces to do rubbings from and, when trying to make a sheep sculpture (for a project based on Yorkshire Sculpture Park), I found myself sticking cotton wool on a plant pot with honey, as I had no glue, and forming a sheep’s head out of a pop sock! I also had great fun using a stop motion app to produce animations.

I particularly enjoyed doing calligrams, which were new to me, and the 3D art. I painted my grandchildren sitting down for this, and attached the painting to a stick, which I suspended with Blu Tack from my rabbit run. I do wonder sometimes what the neighbours must think!

I had started painting birthday cards during lockdown and the first was for my sister of a lady in a sari, so when a project came up to paint with natural products I copied this image using coffee, plum juice and boiled aquilegia to get the colour blue.

The amount of different things we have tried during this time amazes me. Ben and Phil even kindly reproduced some of our drawings as laser cut etchings on wood.

All I can say is a big thank you to Ben, Phil and the CreateSpace team.

Graham High

The value CreateSpace offers for me is a chance to get back into the habit of socialising with people (something I had lost the knack of), and sharing people's backgrounds, cultures, ideas, enthusiasms, and perspectives through art. CreateSpace also allows me to meet and chat to professional artists and curators - people who I could never have hoped to meet or interact with during the everyday course of my life.

CreateSpace workshops enabled me to concentrate solely on creating for a few hours without any distractions or interruptions; Any personal problems faded into the background, which I call the well-being pay-off.

Although the Covid 19 crisis has curtailed the prospect of meeting up to do workshops for a while, the relationships built have been maintained and expanded via virtual CreateSpace; a wonderful idea.

For me the personal enjoyment of creating lies in mixing up and playing with various media to allow the best chance of producing something interesting to me. I particularly enjoy using computer graphics alongside traditional art materials and methods. An example is whenever I draw and paint a tile design traditionally, I use the computer to join copies of the tile together in order to reveal the tessellation pattern.

The most personally satisfying example of a picture made from my mixed approach was done when Rita Patel set her 7th Virtual CreateSpace assignment using polka dots as a theme.

I photographed soap bubbles in a washing-up bowl, processed the image via the computer and printed out a monochromatic image on several sheets of paper, which I mounted onto board. The image was then coloured using inks, paint, stamps, coloured paper and coloured plastic.

I have found that most of the work I have done leans toward stained glass effects. Probably the inspiration for that from comes from the Baptistery Window at Coventry Cathedral, which was designed and painted by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens. I first looked at that window way back when I was 10 years old, and it made a huge impression on me: It still does.

Rita Patel

Rita has been a professional jewellery designer maker for over 20 years. She loves hand making contemporary jewellery and creates bespoke and exhibition pieces with cultural themes inspired by her heritage and travels.

The use of rice grains often features in her work through making rice capsules, garlands and jewellery, exploring ideas around what is considered to be precious.
She has a fascination with capsules and miniature containers ever since she was given a copper amulet as a child to wear around her neck on a piece of black thread.
One example is the rice capsule which contains real rice grains with one 18ct gold handmade rice grain. She likes combining materials in her work such as silver, embroidery threads and rice with accents of gold and gemstones.

She is also interested in the sentiment and meaning that a piece of jewellery can hold. In many Asian ceremonies such as marriage or birth, a symbolic red thread is tied on the wrist and worn continuously day & night until it falls away. It’s impermanent but still precious. This theme is reflected in her Thread Lines Collection, made of small silver domes containing red silk threads captured in resin and silver rings with a red thread tied around two interconnecting lines.

Rita also makes commercial collections which are classic, timeless pieces of jewellery with a minimal & elegant style including:
The Seed Collection, inspired by tiny seeds found in plant life, clustered together to form organic shapes & made into delicate pieces of jewellery.
The Kiss collection reflects the sentiment of love and friendship.
The Ellipse Collection is inspired by architectural & geometric shapes.

Following on from undertaking a 1 year Design & Enterprise fellowship in 1996, she has worked from her workshop in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. It’s a special place to work as it has a rich history and a tradition of jewellery manufacturing for several hundred years.

Alongside her jewellery and metalwork practice Rita has worked on many Arts & Community projects in partnership with galleries and arts organisations as a lead artist, working with people aged from 3 months up to 80+ years old.

Rita is lead artist for CreateSpace Birmingham – she ran a programme of workshops at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Blakesley hall and now leads the CreateSpace Birmingham Virtual Workshop Programme.

Steve Goodwin

My name is Steve Goodwin, a member of the CreateSpace art group based at The New Walsall Art Gallery, under the guidance of resident artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood and Sam Hale. As a recent convert to art, I would like to take you through my approach to one of the weekly tasks given to the group during the lockdown period – “Hands”.

Firstly, I should explain, there are no formal time restraints, or pressures, to complete any task set. You decide on when, or even if, you carry out the project. On receipt of a new task, I carefully read through the whole document to get a feel for what is to be done, and how long it will roughly take. Sarah normally starts, by showing artworks related to the task using examples from Walsall gallery, wherever possible. This gives you a sense of the origins behind the project; helpful as it not only improves your art knowledge, it generally shows many different approaches by artists and promotes your own ideas on how you could develop work on the theme, if you should wish.

In this task, a number of hand statues are shown in different poses to give you a visual aid in understanding how a hand is proportioned and how its pose can influence body language.

I had some time in the afternoon so decided to undertake the first part of the task of drawing around my left hand in soft pencil and adding the contour lines in ink, as per Sarah’s instructions. My first attempt was not quite right as I had messed up my thumb area. So I decided to redraw starting near my wrist this time. With more care to match the contour bumps with the thickness and curves of my hand, I quickly had an image that leaped out of the paper. An illusion of a contoured hand! I erased the original pencil line, and I coloured alternate gaps between lines yellow and orange/ light blue. I chose complimentary colours as I thought this would be pleasing on the eye and would test the theory Sam had taught me about the colour wheel. The abstract form produced was better than I could have hoped for.

With renewed confidence and real zest for the task, I set about producing a much more complex shape, contorting my hand above the paper with some fingers curved and others folded beneath them. I drew the more complex contour lines and another interesting abstract shape had been produced. This time as I stepped back, I could see almost a lobster claw, so applied colour to emphasise what I could see in my head. I looked at the clock, four hours had gone by in the blink of an eye. What had I got from the exercise? Well, a sense of achievement, some art I could be proud to show and a relaxed frame of mind, together with a better understanding of how my hand actually looked.

I completed the final part of the task a few days later. Again, I drew around my hand but this time I carefully completed the drawing by sketching on the details of my hand, fingernails, blemishes, lines etc. The final outcome, I felt, gave me quite an accurate copy of my hand. The overall task had made me observe my hand more and inspired that more accurate copy. I did try to focus on my hand while drawing rather than stop, look, then draw. Wasn’t as easy but I think added to the accuracy. The final part of the task then asked us to write down on the newly drawn image the varied ways we had used our hands over the last 24 hours, which brought about many smiles, as I even recalled pointing at some bees and putting on Easter Bunny ears after a belated Easter raffle.

The CreateSpace course generally has been a godsend, particularly through the stressful time of this virus. The use of so many alternative art mediums/ideas has given me so many hours of pleasure and kept my mind really active. We have made art - weaving paper, creating collages, creating our faces on cereal boxes, ripping up paper and used our imagination to see what images we can create on them, making images from garden foliage, images from rubbings and looking at shadows to name just a few tasks. It’s the work, the art, that leads from this that will stay with us, inspire us in the future. As we take the seeds planted by the tasks and bring them to flower with our own imagination. I’ve had some dark times during the lockdown and maybe I’ve created some darker images at times as a result, but letting out the thoughts, expressing them in art, has been cathartic and generally the period has been filled with beautiful art that has been varied and made me think, made me relax and, above all, made me smile.

A big thank you to Creative Health and The New Art Gallery Walsall for making it happen, but a bigger thanks to the efforts of Sarah and Sam, who have supported and inspired us all the way.

I’ve selected this final image to represent my work as an artist because it will always hold a special place in my heart. The image is an example of life-drawing called simply ‘Ruby’ after the model. It was my Eureka drawing moment, as I had to quickly capture the pose and for the first time I felt a confidence in my ability to boldly put pencil to paper and connect with my subject.