Creating Art, Creating Friendships
Art ‘n Blether is led by Helmsdale-based landscape artist Anne Little who is originally from the small mining village of Calverton in Nottinghamshire. Anne is guiding and supporting participants through a variety of styles and techniques, including portraits and landscapes; painting with watercolour, acrylics and oils; glass painting and clay modelling; as well as drawing with pen and ink and charcoal.
Sessions are open to all members of the community over the age of 16. They often involve field trips to paint local landscapes, which to date have seen the group at Berriedale, the Strath of Kildonan, Loch Brora and Helmsdale harbour. Each class is followed by a Pop-up Café with hot drinks and home baking, giving a chance for a break and extra socialising.
Art ‘n Blether began in 2017 following a community survey on local interests conducted in late 2016/early 2017. Once these survey results had been gathered we applied for funding to introduce new projects. These new areas of work were originally intended to reach carers who often go unrecognised.
We recognise that many ‘unidentified’ carers in our rural area do not even realise they are caring for an ill, older or disabled loved one: it is simply something they just do as a wife, husband, son or daughter, parent or friend without realising that by not naming that caring role and therefore not being part of a supportive network, they leave themselves vulnerable to serious personal and financial implications.
To address this, we proposed launching a series of art workshops – also one of the most popular activities from our existing Helmsdale Village Hub – in a new environment together with a Pop-up Café to create not only a safe and fun haven for those carers, but also to stimulate and encourage further social interaction.
Above and beyond its original intended purpose, Art ‘n Blether has now proven to support a range of individuals within the community. Due to the success of the programme, it has continued with on-going six-week themed sessions.