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In September 2016 we started a year-long project called 'From Little Acorns', thanks to being awarded a grant by The Big Lottery Fund (who also supported us previously for our 'Making Contact' project in 2015). We would like to extend our thanks to them for making our project possible.

 This project aimed to continue spreading the word about The SuppArt Group, hoping to attract more new people to join us for our weekly arts sessions and become part of our social group. Coming together on Friday mornings helps us keep engaged with the other folk in our community and is a great way to brighten up the week, meeting other like-minded folk to socialise, chat, and be creative.

This is a photo-diary of what we did during the year. We asked participants what they thought about having joined in, and some of their comments are also included below. 


During 2016 and into 2017 the SuppArt Group members worked on a variety of arts and crafts projects:

A wooden key holder in the shape of a butler;



A wooden stick puppet (called 'Fidgety Phillip');


A modroc model of Santa Claus;


A pre-cut wooden desk tidy;



A stripped, sanded and re-varnished barometer / clock;   


A colour-changing rainbow light ball and a wooden stool with woven top;    


A wooden stool with an adjustable top;


A wooden plant stand, personalised with a mosaic design on top;


Woodwork and knitting;


Glass painting and soapstone carving;



A large guitar design painted on a sheet of glass, with bespoke wooden frame painted with musical notation;


A wooden nodding dog notepaper dispenser;


A wooden storm lantern and the finished Santa Claus Xmas decoration pictured 'in progress' further up the page.   



At the beginning of 2017 we led eight sessions at the Children's Centre, doing activities that parents and children could work on together. These were held in the late afternoon, after school and before tea - this meant that parents could come along after they had finished work and join in.


First we spent a couple of weeks making collage pictures, cutting up magazines and sticking them down to create different images of our own.


Next we spent a few weeks making masks using paper plates, coloured card, felt-tipped pens and assorted sticky decorations.














Next we started working on stick puppets, thinking hard about how to make the arms and legs move by making all the parts separately and then joining them using split pins.




We were able to give help and advice on how best to bring some very imaginative ideas to life.





There were some very impressive puppets by the time we'd finished, including this boat, robot . . .



. . . dinosaur and ladybird.



We also went in to Mereside Community Primary School for eight weekly sessions of batik fabric painting.



We worked with two groups of children for four sessions each, teaching them the technique of applying hot wax to fabric. This creates a design which will then block the paint applied afterwards, leaving the design as white lines on the now-coloured fabric.  



Each of the children made a small tester piece in the first session, to go through the whole batik process - here are some of those.


The next week we worked on ideas for a large design which we could make as a group - we used the theme of 'Blackpool'.



We worked together to make a full-size paper version of the design using black marker pen, which we were then able to see through the fabric and trace with the wax - so much easier than freehand! 


When we'd painted the fabric, the design really stood out. The finished banner is about two metres tall.


In the next four sessions, we repeated the whole process with a different group - 


learning to apply the wax . . . 



adding the paint . . .



creating the large design (this time using symbols to represent the school curriculum) . . . 



and, finally, painting.



We had decided to make the finished piece more unique by cutting it into five strips, each representing a different school subject -


Literacy, Numeracy, Topic, Science and Computers. Again, this banner is about two metres tall.



During the Easter holidays we ran four days of Family Arts sessions at St. Monica's, the building in which we meet for our weekly sessions. We ran a morning and an afternoon session on each day, so two different groups came and worked with us for each activity.


The first session was using modroc, where we made shapes with scrunched-up newspaper and then covered them with strips of bandage covered in plaster of paris. 



We got quite messy and had great fun!



We also created some wonderful sculptures.   


The next sessions were circus skills, where we all played together doing loads of different things, 


like juggling . . .


. . . balancing on 'Pedal-Go' wheels . . .   


. . . bouncing on a Saturn Ball, and walking together on planks as a team . . .   


. . . stiltwalking and diabolo . . .


. . . and generally having busy, energetic fun!


The next sessions were batik fabric painting, where listening to the safety talk was Very Important so that nobody burned themselves on the hot wax.


Everybody created a design on paper then transferred it to a piece of fabric using the hot wax.







Then it was time to paint the designs and create a brilliant piece of artwork that we could take home!




The last of the Family Arts days was African drumming.


dJohn came along to help run the sessions and had everybody doing all sorts of things to a rhythm, including being ducks and a train . . .   


. . . as well as listening to the sounds that are all around us every day, but that we often don't really hear because of all the other noise around.



We also got round to playing the djembes (African hand drums), sitting in a circle and listening to each other's beats so we could all stay in time as we made rhythms together.




In the run-up to our summer break we also did eight sessions of a mosaic project, making a large (4 foot square) piece of artwork to go up on the wall of St. Monica's (the building in which we meet for our weekly sessions).


 Unfortunately there was a delay during the planning stage when we were liasing with St. Monica's about the design, which set us back a couple of weeks.


This meant that we were unable to complete the mosaic in the time we'd got, although once we'd got the go-ahead we made quite good progress . . .




. . . we're committed to finishing the mosaic, though, and will be continuing to work on it in our regular Friday morning autumn term sessions. A photo of the finished thing will be up here when it's complete!



We have made contact during our project this year with a number of organisations who work to support people who are encountering difficulties, and these organisations have been directing people towards our group. This has been great, as it's helped us meet lots more people who seem to have benefited from coming along.

These are some of the comments made by people about The SuppArt Group and our activities this year:

"SuppArt is a valuable community resource. It stands alone as an art group as all other provision in Blackpool has been removed. The variety of activities offered means that it caters to a wide variety of people. I am able to recommend it to all clients with a desire to be involved in something creative. The open door policy makes everybody feel welcome, and people often make friends." - LW, Complex Care and Treatment Team, Blackpool Council.

"When I first started coming to the art group, I was very nervous and didn't speak to people very much. I used to wait outside for my social worker as I was too scared to go on my own. Now I attend the group every week on my own and I have made friends who took me in and took the time to speak to me and it has boosted my confidence massively. I've been making frames for my cross-stitches, glass painting, carving soapstone and knitting. I really enjoy this group and I look forward to it every week." - CW

"I look forward to coming to craft club to see the friends I have made. The community artist helps you when he can - we do different things and get a lot of encouragement. It gets me out of the house and mixing with people. We are a good gang together and I hope it will continue." - JW

"I love coming to craft class. I'm not very gifted at making things but the community artist helps me with my projects so I've made a lot of things in the time I've been here. We're a good friendly group and we all get on well together. Looking forwards to starting back after the summer holidays." - ME

"It's a pleasure to come to craft club and meet everyone. We all have our different projects to work on, plus we're working on a big mosaic. The 'family' feel is there and we all support one another. The community artist is so patient and helps us when needed, and always takes a photograph of our achievements. Long may this group continue." - BE

"I have been coming to the SuppArt Group now for nearly three years and it has helped me with my confidence. I have been able to use what I have made and what I have learnt in other groups I take part in. The name SuppArt comes from Art and Support, because it is a support network for the people who come here." - JW

"This group gets me out of the house and helps with my anxiety. We recently have had some people with anxiety problems join with their support workers, I have enjoyed helping them and sharing my anxiety problems with them. Also enjoyed the group mosaic project." - JT

"Very welcoming, nice people - the community artist is great at teaching the many varieties of things we can do in the group. I have done and learnt so many different things, it has got me out [of the house]. I have been to a few art groups and nothing as good as this, it's not just colouring or card-making. I feel lucky to have the chance of coming to such a nice group, I feel I am part of something again after losing my job from ill health. So many fun and learning projects - I hope the group continues, it has been great since the first day I came to it." - GR



Here is a reprint of an article in the The Gazette, Blackpool's local newspaper, from 20th February 2017 - click the image for a larger version.

click for larger image