Monthly Archives: November 2011

I love this job

I love this job

A chill November afternoon; rain in the air.  Every time the door opened you could feel the damp breath of autumn in the wind.

I had just had afternoon tea with eleven ladies from a Lancashire Libraries’ Reading group from Whalley. We were about to visit the Contemporary Heritage installation ‘Taken’ by Ailis Ni Riain in the Castle Keep.  It is inspired by the true story of the Lancashire Witches. But before we could move there were some challenging questions: “Who is paying for this? Where does the money come from? Lancashire’s logo is on the flyer – does this mean we that we are paying ? Is it a sensible use of money in these difficult times? The great thing about the discussion which followed was that I was not expected to answer all the questions – they just set everyone off.  When you belong to a reading group, I realised, you are used to challenge, the challenge of other opinions being different from your own.

Onwards and upwards…to the Keep.

All we did was to lean with our backs against the castle walls, in silence at first; listening….listening to the layers of voices in the wind, to the humming, to the chords from the harp…the perfect instrument, an inspirational choice for the mood of the piece and for this setting.

..and what did they say when the silence was broken?  There was no more     talk about funding…

“…I could feel their voices in the stone…you can see them sitting on a cold    floor, rocking back and forwards with their heads in their hands  murmuring,   humming…it should stay here as a part of the experience of visiting the Castle; it really takes you back in time…I can still hear their voices now we’ve come back…those poor women…there was a real feeling of despair up there…yes, of hopelessness, disturbing…I think there are places where these  things are still happening….”

I don’t have say more only that it a privilege to share this experience with  this group of ladies….and of course the afternoon tea!

I love this job.

Author: David Smith

TAKEN is open daily 10am-5pm and can be visited till early Summer at Clitheroe Castle Museum, Clitheroe BB7 1BA.

Free admission to the installation in the Castle Keep

Have you seen TAKEN already?What are your thoughts?


Arts Award success!

Halloween this year meant more than pumpkins and trick or treat here at Mid Pennine Arts. For MPA,  the 31st of October marked an end to months of hard work by young people: it was the date of our Arts Award moderation.

During the summer term of 2011, young people from our Heritage Lottery funded Young Roots projects in Accrington and Nelson were busily working towards their Bronze Arts Awards, as were children in Runcorn who were involved in their school’s Creative Partnerships activity.

As the young people’s beautiful portfolios began to take shape, with collage, fold outs, pockets, photos, films, audio and even samples of textiles collected from research visits, they told the story of their creative experience.

They described learning skills and developing ideas with creative practitioners in diverse artforms from drama to visual art, textiles to bookmaking, making artworks and sharing them through exhibitions and performances.

They experienced being in the audience at arts events, for instance, seeing the work of Anish Kapoor at Manchester Art Gallery and visiting art and craft centres, reviewing art collections on display in local museums and visiting sites of religious art.

Moreover these young people shared their skills, demonstrating techniques to the public at exhibitions, or in school with younger children, writing instructions, performing and inviting question and answer sessions from their audience.

Each portfolio detailed the inspiration drawn from an arts hero. For many these individuals were the artists they had worked with such as Lisa Watson and Karen Alderson. For others their heroes were local arts champions such as Accrington’s Julie Hesmondhalgh. Some were wowed by their trip to Manchester and decided to find out more about Anish Kapoor.

The portfolios were detailed, colourful, individual and intriguing. Spending time assessing them gave enormous pleasure as each one revealed, through hidden pockets, shape poems, mirror writing and fold out pages, its individual treasures. What terrific effort and imagination!

… and then the day came. Young people, Zara, Sanaira, Kate, Amelia and Amber arrived ready to talk to Buzz, the Arts Award moderator. And as they munched on Halloween themed cakes, Buzz broke the news: they passed! Huge congratulations to them and all of the 23 young people who completed portfolios and achieved Bronze Arts Awards.

As for MPA, we’re ready to do it all again. Who’s next?

Author: Steph Hawke