Author: mike

Bisila Noha on craftwomanship

Bisila Noha
Bisila Noha

BISILA NOHA ON CRAFTSWOMANSHIP

The poetic ceramics of Bisila Noha are stirringly deceiving. At first glance, hand-crafted patterns form beautiful, abstract shapes on what seem to be familiar crockery objects. In reality, she creates ceramic paintings, which tell the story of nature’s ever-changing landscapes through a combination of ancient and modern marbling techniques.

Her art brings to question the very core beliefs of academic art history, defying the traditional, hierarchical and confining division between Fine and Decorative Arts. An important member of Create’s team of professional artists, Bisila’s bravely modern yet acutely technical practice invites us to reconsider our society’s value systems, and thus rethink how our own personal values affect our wellbeing and creativity.

Bisila Noha Brumas Triptych
Bisila Noha Brumas Triptych, 2019

Bisila confesses that what she loves most about making art is storytelling, a skill she powerfully showcases in one of her latest projects Brumas (2019). “I am mainly inspired by nature and its phenomena. Zaragoza, the city I come from in Spain, is known for how windy it is. Besides, I grew up going to Panticosa, a small village in the Pyrenees, from where I have strong memories of the summer storms and how the sky can change in minutes: darkness, the storm and then clear skies as if nothing had happened. Thus, my abstract ceramic paintings – as I now like to call them – are mostly about that: skies, storms, wind, clouds. With an increasing control of the marbling technique, I now can express artistically what I visualise. And so I have started making triptychs, so that I can tell the entire story as I imagine it in my head: the storm in progress, the clouds moving and a clear sky.”

“through creativity, humans can find their own selves, their true voice and their value.”

Bisila Noha

Brumas demonstrates Bisila’s virtuoso ability to capture the sky’s broody scenery, the hand-created heavens seeming to breathe with life within their porcelain world. The project, however, is also a powerful statement about our society’s increasingly stormy status quo. “We live in a world and a time where we – as a society – tend to value more those things we can use; those of us who do and produce the most. Capitalism is all about productivity and functionality.”

Bisila Noha Brumas
Bisila Noha Brumas, 2019

“Therefore, when I started making, I was obsessed with making things that people could use; and the more functions those pots could have, the better. So cups could be used for coffee, spices, candles; bottles could also be vases; and plates could also be trays. At some point while doing some tests, I realised that my marbling, actually looked amazing when raw, with no glaze on top. Sadly for my multi-functional personal crusade, though, that meant that the pieces ‘could not be used’. It took me a long while to find peace within and start appreciating the value of these decorative pieces – that of visual delight and aesthetic pleasure. This is what I mean when I say that Brumas is about leaving the ‘doing’ behind, and embracing the ‘being’. I at last gave my pots a break and let them be.”

“My first conceptual project with ceramics is called Los Noha (2015), and it is very special to me as it was the first time I connected myself and who I am with what I make. It started with me thinking of how I could create something very unique for my family for Christmas, and I came up with the idea for this project: one pot for each one of the members of my family – dad, mum, sister and brother, each one decorated in order to match their skin colour. Coming from a mixed-race background has resulted in me being interested in mixing in general. With this project I started to investigate how different glazes combined would come out by adding different layers.”

Bisila Noha Los Noha
Bisila Noha Los Noha, 2015

“With Los Noha I discovered that I was not interested in making things for the sake of it, but in telling stories. These concepts or stories may or may not be relevant for some customers, but certainly make my practice deeper and more meaningful to me. Since 2015 on a more technical level, my practice has improved so much in the last four years. Those pots were so tiny! I love looking at them when I’m home, as they help me reflect upon how far I’ve come and how much my life has changed since then.”

“the combination of craftwomanship and ‘traditional’ artistic input that Decorative Arts require is mad.”

Bisila Noha

Bisila’s ability to elevate the medium of ceramics to fine art has been celebrated by both the academics and art dealers. “I had so many thoughts around this topic earlier this year, as I had the chance to exhibit at London Art Fair with Thrown Contemporary, the gallery in Highgate that I work with. We were there because London Art Fair launched ‘Platform’, a new section that focuses on different disciplines each year, and they had chosen ceramics for their first year ever. I think that probably is a very good sign of a change. Traditionally, ceramics were considered Fine Art only if they had been made by an already Fine Art artist, such as Picasso.

“However, I have the feeling that at least in London today, pottery is experiencing a renaissance that is bringing it to the spotlight. Luckily there are galleries, such as Thrown, that are well aware of this change and championing artists leaving traditional constrains of what is and what isn’t art. I think that the combination of craftwomanship and ‘traditional’ artistic input that Decorative Arts require is mad and it’s high time they stopped being seen as second class citizens in the ‘Arts’ world.”

Bisila Noha Los Noha
Bisila Noha Los Noha, 2015

The artist is an eloquent contributor to the current conversation about the definitions of art mediums – but at the heart of her practice is her determination to make the world a better place through creativity. As an important member of Create’s team of professional artists, Bisila works on our projects to engage the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults with the art of ceramics. “It is an honour to be part of Create! I have mostly worked with children so far and it is beautiful to see them making together and having a respite from their lives. I believe that the way Create programmes and designs the workshops is amazing, as participants learn many different skills at once in a fun way – from creative thinking, communication or teamwork, to the extremely rich range of disciplines the charity offers. I think it’s fantastic, especially as creativity and the arts have been forgotten at schools and in society as a whole. And it also benefits us, the workshop facilitators!”

“I believe that through creativity, humans can find their own selves, their true voice and their value. Creativity and creative thinking also make people more resourceful and independent and less afraid of changes. And on top of that, it can have an incredibly positive impact on people’s mental and physical health as a result. So if the world was filled with people whose brains were well oiled and fed through creativity, who knew who they were and consequently were more at peace with others, I think we could live in a pretty amazing place”.

ceramics from an art space project
Ceramics made by young carers on an art:space project

Please visit Bisila Noha’s website to view more of her beautiful work here.

Fundraising for an arts charity: Ben Allan’s story

Ben Allan Ride London
Ben Allan Ride London

FUNDRAISING FOR AN ARTS CHARITY: BEN ALLAN’S STORY

This year once again #TeamCreate took on the RideLondon-Surrey 100. Nine riders made their way through the stunning Surrey countryside, before racing on closed roads passed some of London’s most iconic sights such as Putney Bridge, the Thames Embankment and St James’s Park.

Here #TeamCreate member Ben Allan, who works for Create’s corporate partner Uncommon, talks about the joys of riding and the challenges of fundraising for an arts charity.

“I started out mountain biking as a kid and spent the summer before university living in Whistler, Canada. I think eighteen year old me would be horrified at how lycra-clad my cycling style has become in the last few years!

Ben Allan Ride London
Ben Allan with his medal

“The company I work for, Uncommon, have partnered with Create since we started, pretty much. It’s an amazing cause and one that’s especially apt for me, working in the creative industries. So when I found out that they had places to do RideLondon, it was perfect for me as a cyclist as well.

“I ride a lot all year round, so didn’t train for this per se. I try and get out on my bike at least once a week, so tried to keep that up and do some much longer rides to make sure I had the legs. On the day itself, it was a particularly early start! Getting to Stratford for 6am on a Sunday felt a bit surreal, but once you’re surrounded by the other cyclists the anticipation builds and you’re itching to get going. It was a beautiful morning actually – perfect for cycling.

“when fundraising you have to keep prodding. Re-post on your social media, re-send the email to colleagues. It’s not that people don’t want to give, they often just forget you’re raising money!”

ben allan

“I went out pretty quick, so started to flag a bit when I hit the Surrey Hills. Thankfully there was a perfectly placed food stop so I leapt off the bike for a stretch of the legs and a quick banana or two.

“It was also very crowded on the roads near the start, so trying to dodge everyone whilst finding your pace and searching for similarly paced riders to group with was a challenge. I actually ended up riding pretty much all of it solo, which the legs definitely didn’t appreciate!

“Flying around London on closed roads was particularly memorable. Not sure I’ll be going down Embankment on the wrong side of the road again any time soon! It was also amazing how many people came out to cheer it, especially in Dorking, where they had railings all through the centre of town. It also helped a lot in the final few miles up to The Mall. I celebrated crossing the finish line with a burrito and a beer with the Create gang. And then a mac and cheese for good measure.

“I learnt that when fundraising for an arts charity, you have to keep prodding. Re-post on your social media, re-send the email to colleagues etc. It’s not that people don’t want to give, they often just forget you’re raising money before they get round to donating. We got two bits of art donated by a friend, which we gave away in a raffle to anyone who donated. That definitely helped as it gives everyone that extra incentive to give.

“Create provided brilliant support throughout! Always checking in on how things were going with training, fundraising, and helping to update the donation pages if required. It was great to sit with them and enjoy some much needed food and drink at the finish line on the day too. I’d definitely ride for #TeamCreate again next year. And this time I’m dragging some friends along too!”

This article is from 2019.

Set up your own fundraiser

Creative prisoners scoop 14 Koestler Awards

inside stories koestler awards
inside stories koestler awards

CREATIVE PRISONERS TAKING PART IN “INSIDE STORIES” SCOOP 14 KOESTLER AWARDS

Storybooks and their accompanying musical tracks made by creative prisoners during our Inside Stories project have been recognised with an impressive 14 Koestler Awards. (This story is from 2019.)

The prizes are awarded by Koestler Arts, a charity dedicated to awarding, exhibiting and selling artwork by prisoners, detainees and secure patients. Since 2012, work made during our prison projects has been recognised with a total of 95 Koestler Awards, with one of our 2018 award-winning pieces being selected for the prestigious Koestler Arts exhibition at the Southbank Centre.

“This project has helped my partner, children and parents feel more relaxed and positive about my time in prison.”

Inside Stories participant

Our Inside Stories programme gives these creative prisoners the opportunity to produce illustrated stories and music for their children. Working under the guidance of our professional writer, visual artist and musicians, they work in pairs to write, record and illustrate original stories, which they then set to music in groups. The project enables them to build creativity, teamwork and communication skills and arts skills that they can use with their children during prison visits and on release.

Following their fathers’ performance in the prison during a special family visit, the children receive a copy of the professionally produced storybook and CD, helping to maintain the bond between parent and child, and enabling them to have a very personal part of their Dad at home.

The Ministry of Justice has found that sustaining family ties makes it easier for prisoners to reintegrate into society and increases their chance of finding a job and stable accommodation once they are released. One of the prisoners who took part told us:

“I thought Inside Stories would be a good opportunity to do something to show my family I am thinking about them all the time and being productive with my time in prison. I hope when my girl sees this book it’ll make her think I can be a good dad. I think my family feel proud of me for doing this.

“This project has helped my partner, children and parents feel more relaxed and positive about my time in prison. It helps them think about me being productive, becoming a good man. Maybe in the past I wouldn’t have done something nice like this for my loved ones, so it helps me show them how much I care for them.”

Below, I’m delighted to share one of the winning stories, The Lion and The Hen from the Collection Daddy’s Little Stories, which itself won a First Time Entrant award in the Anthology category.

inside stories koestler awards
inside stories koestler awards

This fantastic achievement at the Koestler Awards is a reflection of the creativity, dedication and passion put into Inside Stories by the prisoners who created them for their children under the guidance of our artists. The success of this projects demonstrates the value of giving prisoners opportunities to express themselves creatively and connect with the outside world.

Read our interview with Andrew Wilkie, Director of Radio at the Prison Radio Association, here

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive

Our projects with prisoners

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage announces new funding for carers

caroline dinenage at a Create event
caroline dinenage at a Create event

MINISTER FOR CARE ANNOUNCES NEW FUNDING FOR CARERS

12 June 2019 – We were delighted to be part of an event with the Minister for Care at the Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets this morning celebrating both Carers Week and the Carers Centre’s 21st birthday. Cake and a joyful performance of new music by a group of adult carers and our musicians helped with the party feel!

Speaking at the event, Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage MP announced the Carers Innovation Fund, a £5 million fund that will invest in innovative new projects to improve the wellbeing of carers across the country. She commented: “Informal care is a fundamental part of our health and care system, which would not be sustainable without the incredible contribution of carers across the country. But we cannot take them for granted and must do more to protect their wellbeing and ensure they can enjoy full lives.”

Our Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, commented: “I am delighted that the government and the Minister for care has taken this step to invest in innovative ways of supporting carers. At Create, we’ve seen the incredible impact of our creative arts programmes with adult carers including those who attend the Carers Centre Tower Hamlets. Our carefully tailored projects enable carers to build creative and arts skills, confidence and self-esteem, and reduce their isolation by socialising with people who understand the challenges they face. They also focus on wellbeing, giving carers essential ‘me-time’ and a chance to have fun.”

caroline dinenage at a Create event

We have been delivering our creative:release project with adult carers at the Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets since 2017. This is funded by Reed Smith LLP, which also provides dedicated volunteers to collaborate with the participants during the workshops. Working with an average of 12 carers per project, our professional artists have explored artforms including music, photography, dance and ceramics with the carers. Each year’s project culminates in a showcase and lunch hosted by Reed Smith, where the carers celebrate their achievements and reconnect with the Reed Smith staff who have volunteered during the workshops.

Create artist Graham Rix
Create artist Graham Rix

Sandra’s story

Sandra, a carer who has taken part in several of these projects told us:

“I used to be a carer for my late husband, even though I didn’t know I was a carer at that time, and now I’m looking after my 87 year old father-in-law. He’s got vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, and he’s also got prostate cancer which he’s had for 11 years. It’s hard work at times and can be very emotional. It can be lovely and rewarding but it can also be heart-breaking.

“When you’re a carer the time you get to yourself is a bit more restricted. Coming to the Carers Centre has helped me a tremendous amount though, spending time with other carers and making wonderful friends. If it weren’t for here then my life would be completely different – I would be very restricted and very isolated.

“When you’re a carer you aren’t able to afford a lot of things so projects like this can be the only way we get to do things like photography. That’s why we need things like Create to come in and give us these opportunities.

“Being creative at this project has made me feel a lot better because I’m actually doing something for me for a change. I’m very privileged to have had this opportunity. It’s made me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. Getting better at photography has made me feel like I can actually do something and that I’m not as thick as I thought I was – it’s given me a lot of confidence.

“You don’t really take notice of what you’re seeing until you’re looking through the lens of a camera: the different shades, the lighting and everything like that; the light coming in through windows. I absolutely loved the black and white – it looks so natural and really reminded me of old fashioned pictures that they used to take in the olden days.

“I’ve always taken pictures, but only on my mobile. I didn’t want to give the camera back at the end of the project! I want a camera now – I’ll have to get my son and daughter to club together to buy me one.”

Create chairman Eddie Donaldson awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Eddie Donaldson taking part in a project with young carers
Eddie Donaldson taking part in a project with young carers

CREATE CHAIRMAN AWARDED OBE IN QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY HONOURS

Our inspirational Chairman Eddie Donaldson has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his significant and demanding portfolio of charity work.

Eddie first became involved with Create in 2011. He generously gave of his time and expertise to support me with my strategic thinking, enabling me to write a business plan that set out ambitious development plans for the charity.

Eddie was appointed Chairman in 2012, since when he has helped lead Create through a period of transformation. We have become a multi-award winning national charity; our income and workshop delivery have increased by over 125%; and in 2018, we were shortlisted for the Charity Times Charity of the Year award. Eddie’s contribution has been exceptional. He is a committed, experienced leader and an inspirational role model, who is deeply committed to the values of the charity. He shares his expertise generously.

Eddie Donaldson taking part in a project with young carers

Since his retirement from KPMG in 2010, Eddie has devoted a huge amount of time, energy and expertise to charities as Chairman, Treasurer and Trustee, including Create, RNLI and XLP.

Eddie told me: ‘It’s an honour to receive an OBE for my charity work. I am immensely proud to be able to help such fantastic organisations, which make such a difference to people’s lives. As Chairman of Create, I’m grateful for the opportunity to support its vital work using the creative arts to give agency to so many disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults each year. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity through Create to play my part with others in helping to paint a bright future for so many.”

I am thrilled that Eddie has been recognised for the enormous amount of charity work that he undertakes. Create and the other charities to which he dedicates so much time, expertise and commitment are incredibly fortunate to benefit from all he contributes as a volunteer.

Nicky Goulder
Founding Chief Executive

National Prison Radio’s Andrew Wilkie on building prisoners’ creativity and confidence

andrew wilkie of the Prison Radio Association
andrew wilkie of the Prison Radio Association

NATIONAL PRISON RADIO’S ANDREW WILKIE ON BUILDING PRISONERS’ CREATIVITY AND CONFIDENCE

We spoke to Andrew Wilkie, Director of Radio at the Prison Radio Association, about how creativity in prisons and getting involved in radio can build prisoners’ confidence and reduce reoffending.

Create’s Inside Change project enables prisoners to explore financial literacy through radio drama. Working with our professional drama artists, participants write, perform and record a radio play centred on personal finance issues, which is then broadcast into 81,000 prison cells via National Prison Radio.

“National Prison Radio broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, into prison cells in virtually every prison in England and Wales. We exist to reduce reoffending by giving people the tools to sort out whatever issue led them to prison. We aim to do that by sharing prisoners’ experiences of the most important issues they face – that’s really at the heart of the radio station.

“People who are in prison should have the opportunity to try and solve whatever led them to commit crime in the first place.”

Andrew Wilkie

“People are quite naturally really nervous when they go into a radio studio. It’s small, you’re sitting in front of a big microphone, and when you talk into it thousands of people can hear what you’re saying. They may go in to interview someone like a prison governor and start reading a script, and sometimes it can sound really stilted. You can hear the nerves in their voice. But then there’ll be a moment where it goes off script and turns into a conversation. When you get to that point, you feel like you’re engaged and communicating properly. Stepping out of that studio at the end of the interview, you can see the sense of elation on their faces. It’s a huge confidence boost to be able to do something like that.

“The people we work with are quite often at rock bottom in terms of confidence. Many will have lost everything. They’ll be feeling guilt and shame, and they’ll be sitting in their cell thinking about it all day. When you’re in prison, isolated like that, confidence is incredibly difficult to build. But it’s experiences like being on the radio or being creative that can kick-start that process.

“People who are in prison should have the opportunity to try and solve whatever led them to commit crime in the first place, whether that’s addiction, compulsive behaviour or financial necessity. The reasons why people commit crime are very complicated and the solutions aren’t simple, but doing nothing is not a solution.

“Creativity in prisons is absolutely vital, because creativity is an way of communicating without necessarily having to use your voice.”

Andrew wilkie

“Virtually everyone who ends up in prison will be released at some point, so the question is: who do you want living in your community? Do you want people who have been left to rot in a prison cell? Or do you want people who have used their time in prison to help themselves? Everybody has to take responsibility for these questions if we’re going to call ourselves a society.

“Financial literacy is one of the key pathways for reducing reoffending. Having financial security can relieve a lot of pressure in all sorts of ways. It’s a very important subject, but understanding it can be complicated. Create’s Inside Change project has therefore been amazing; it’s a very clever way of educating people about financial management, because you’re learning without being in a lesson.

“Criminologists argue that a common root cause of crime is an inability to communicate. Creativity in prisons is absolutely vital, because creativity is an way of communicating without necessarily having to use your voice.

“Anyone who’s been into a prison will know that they’re grey, drab, colourless places. You’re deprived of stimulation and choice because there’s nothing to look at – it’s just bricks and beige paint. Art and creativity in prisons fill that void.”

To find out more about Create’s prison work, including our project connecting fathers in prison with their children, click here.

How can the creative arts help with homelessness and mental ill-health?

speak with my voice
speak with my voice

HOMELESSNESS AND MENTAL ILL-HEALTH: HOW CAN THE CREATIVE ARTS HELP?

How can creativity have a significant positive impact on people dealing with homelessness and mental ill-health? How can it be used to empower lives?

World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day fall on the same date – a coincidental but natural pairing. Mental ill-health is prevalent amongst homeless people, with St Mungo’s’ 2016 Stop the Scandal: An Investigation into Mental Health and Rough Sleeping report finding that four in 10 rough sleepers in England need mental health support.

speak with my voice
Speak With My Voice participants

At Create we use creativity and the arts to empower disadvantaged and vulnerable people. With support from Pret a Manger we run two programmes with homeless and formerly-homeless people, a key aim of which is to improve participants’ mental health and self-esteem. Speaking to participants from the two programmes demonstrates the link between mental ill health and homelessness and how creativity can help support people through both.

Deptford Reach is a drop in centre in South East London, attended by 70 – 100 people every day. The clients face many different challenges including homelessness, poverty, mental ill health and social isolation or exclusion. Create has been running its Speak With My Voice arts project there since 2003.

Through Speak With My Voice Deptford Reach clients explore music, photography and poetry under the guidance of Create’s professional artists. The programme is designed to boost confidence, self-esteem, relationship-building and wellbeing.

Meet Chris

“When you’re being creative you’re involved in life. You aren’t just a spectator, you aren’t just a number or a victim.”

Chris, Speak With My Voice participant

Chris (not his real name), aged 43, has been a client at Deptford Reach since 2012:

“I first came across Deptford Reach when I had completed a prison sentence. After the security and cosiness of jail, the open market of society can be ruthless and unforgiving. Places like Deptford Reach help individuals restructure their lives and minds. Create’s programmes are pivotal in this restructuring.

“When you’re being creative you’re involved in life. You aren’t just a spectator, you aren’t just a number or a victim. It takes away the rough edges of life, makes everything less exacting and gives you more room to travel in your mind.

speak with my voice

“Expressing yourself through creativity is cathartic. The dark parts of you have a chance to be explored. The irony is that when you’re depressed it’s the time you least want to be creative, all you want to do is curl up in bed and do nothing. But a little encouragement always helps and that’s where Create comes in.

“Being encouraged to be creative has spurred on my initiative – I now run yoga classes and help manage the IT Room at Deptford Reach. I’m able to do that because of the confidence that the projects have given me. I’m more willing to volunteer, to put my two pence in, to give my ideas and jump into the mix. I keep telling myself I’ll perform at an open mic poetry night – I haven’t done it yet but I know my confidence is building – when I do it’ll be a massive achievement. I won’t be in the audience anymore; I’ll be part of the show.”

Meet Paul

“There’s a self-belief thing that comes from being creative.”

Paul, Food For Thought participant

Food for Thought is Create’s multi-artform programme with Pret’s Rising Stars programme, which helps people who have lived on the streets or have a criminal record to rebuild their confidence and get back into work. Paul (not his real name) is 22 and took part in a Food for Thought visual art project. He said creating collaboratively allowed the group to build self-esteem, communication skills and creativity:

“Art is something I wouldn’t have picked up had I not been given the direct opportunity. I’ve learned I can find new things that I enjoy and are interesting. There’s a self-belief thing that comes from being creative. When you’re sitting there and haven’t tried something before but they show you how to do it, then you do it yourself, and you make something, and it turns out pretty good.

“Before I was homeless I was living with my family but I wasn’t really doing much with my life. I was spending my whole life inside, taking drugs, making a little bit of money from working in computing. It wasn’t really an existence. I was depressed. My family weren’t happy with what I was doing so I had to leave and was homeless. I didn’t have any support, no money, no bank account.

“It’s so easy to say ‘no’ and that was a problem with me – I was saying ‘no’ too much and not getting out and doing anything. But now I’m coming to do these things, having a lot of fun, building relationships with people, it’s pretty huge. I try and say ‘yes’ to everything now because I’ve learned it will help me develop as a person and I missed out on a lot of development before. Now I’m 22, able to support myself and pay my rent and my bills.”

Both homelessness and mental ill health are increasing in the UK, and we must utilise all the tools available to support people in those circumstances. Chris and Paul’s stories show just what a positive impact creativity can make in the lives of people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Read more about our projects here.

This article is from 2019.

speak with my voice

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Ken Howard OBE on why art is a necessity

ken howard
ken howard

KEN HOWARD OBE ON WHY ART IS A NECESSITY

Artist Ken Howard OBE RA, a Create Patron and member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has been celebrated over his 60-year career for his paintings of London, Cornwall and Venice. Below, he talks about starting out as a painter and how art helps people see.

“One of my earliest memories of being creative is when I was painting in north London on a railway siding. This old fellow came along and looked at my painting and he said “Sonny, I’ve walked across this railway yard for 30 years and this morning I can see that it’s beautiful.”

“Without painting I would have been termed as someone who didn’t have opportunities in life.”

Ken Howard OBE

“I think that’s the important thing in painting, to help people see. Painting is about three things: it’s about revelation, which means showing people something which they’ve seen every day but never really appreciated; it’s about celebration, which can be a celebration of a gasworks or a railway siding just as much as a beautiful woman or a flower; and it’s about communication, which is reaching out to people and speaking to people. I think it’s very important that painting is accessible to people and isn’t so difficult that they say “That’s all very well but I don’t really know what it’s about.”

“I remember I used to go into the City on Sundays in my old clapped-out car with paintings strapped on the roof and this man came along. He looked at my painting and he said, “I like your painting, but you’ve painted two churches and there’s only one there”. So I said, “What about the reflection of the church?” His eyes opened up and he said, “I’ve walked down this road for thirty years and I’ll never see it the same again”. Because I’d shown him a way of seeing it, and a marble wall with a reflection of the church in it made it look as if there were two churches.

Ken Howard in his studio

“One of the reasons I gave up teaching in ’73 was that it was moving much more towards people having academic qualifications and not being creative. We had youngsters who wanted to go to art school but couldn’t because they didn’t have the stipulated number of O-levels and A-levels. Which is nonsense really, because I remember I was in the staff room and we decided that as members of staff none of us would have got to art school under those conditions, when all that mattered really was whether you had talent for the arts. Without painting I think I would have been termed now as someone who didn’t have opportunities in life. Create gives everyone opportunities to be creative – adults as well as youngsters, people in prison, all ages.

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ken howard

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Meet Heather

inside stories 2019
inside stories 2019

MEET HEATHER

Heather talks about her personal experiences with our prison work

Inside Stories is Create’s multi-award-winning programme with fathers in prison. It gives them the opportunity to work collaboratively to produce original, illustrated stories and music for their children, which they perform. Their children then receive a storybook and CD to enjoy at home.

Heather, whose six-year-old daughter Kyra’s father took part in Inside Stories, reveals the impact the project has had.

“My daughter Kyra’s father Sam, who is in prison, has dyslexia and special educational needs. There was barely any help available when he was a child. I’m a primary school teacher and encouraged Sam to enrol in adult education a few years ago to help him get a job. On the first day, another student made fun of him because of the stutter he has when under pressure – another thing he hasn’t had help with. He refused to return, and has never been able to find a job due to his poor literacy skills and reluctance to participate in any education as he does not like to look ‘silly’.

“Kyra misses her father greatly. He always used to tell her stories at bedtime, and words cannot describe how much having this story written by her father and being able to hear his voice has helped.”

Heather

“Sam was initially reluctant to take part in Inside Stories because he cannot read or write, and always hated school. But when he spoke to me on the phone after his first workshop, I could tell he was surprised because he’d really enjoyed the session. He began to look forward to the sessions and always wanted to talk to me about them.

The day of the performance

“Kyra and I attended a performance of Sam’s story at the prison. Friendly staff took us to the prison chapel, which was filled with musical instruments, and we waited for the children’s fathers to arrive.

“Sam played the xylophone during the performance of his story, an adventure about a magical unicorn. I was completely stunned at what he had managed to achieve, and couldn’t believe he was brave enough to be in front of a small group performing music for a story for his daughter. I struggled not to cry!

“Kyra was engaged for the whole session and had a wonderful time. She also got the chance to play musical instruments and create a collage after the performance. She misses her father greatly. He always used to tell her stories at bedtime, and words cannot describe how much having this story written by her father and being able to hear his voice has helped. Inside Stories is an excellent idea for fathers in prison. It brings families together.

“It’s wonderful that Create has managed to change Sam’s opinion on education and that he enjoyed the workshops. I hope there will be more opportunities available for him as I feel it will quite possibly change his outlook on life. It’s extremely important for people in prison to have the chance to be creative. It boosts morale and helps them realise that they do have potential and can achieve things.”

Read more about Inside Stories

inside stories 2019

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Young carers take part in Lord Mayor’s Show 2018

young carers lord mayors show 2018
young carers lord mayors show 2018

YOUNG CARERS FROM ACROSS LONDON TAKE PART IN THE LORD MAYOR’S SHOW WITH CREATE

This Saturday, 10 November 2018, we gave around 30 young carers from across London the opportunity to take part in an 803-year-old City of London tradition: the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.

young carers take part in lord mayors show 2018

Before the show, the young carers worked with our professional lead artist Jack Cornell to create mobile sculptures and banners inspired by the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor Peter Estlin’s theme for his year in office, ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today’. Their fantastical creations, which imagined eco-friendly buildings and celebrated sustainability, technology and creativity, formed a walking float.

The young carers, with staff from Create and the participating carers’ services – Family Action Camden and Islington Young Carers Service, Kingston Carers’ Network, Carers’ Hub Lambeth and Sutton Carers Centre – paraded the float along the procession route from Bank to Aldwych.

The day began with face-painting by our volunteer Sarah before the young carers set off to take their place in the procession. Cheering crowds met us as we made our way through the City. A highlight was passing Mansion House, where the Lord Mayor greeted us from his balcony. After rounding St Paul’s Cathedral and heading down Fleet Street, we stopped for lunch. The return leg of the route began with a scenic stretch along the Embankment. High-fiving and waving to the crowd, the young carers finished the procession in high spirits and – luckily – just before the weather turned from glorious autumnal sunshine to torrential rain.

lord mayors show 2018

One young carer who took part in the Show said, “I liked meeting different young carers from across London. My favourite moment was seeing the Lord Mayor and seeing my parents cheer for me. Being in the Show made me feel proud of myself, happy and appreciated.” Another said her favourite part of the day was “Everything!”

Read our interview with Peter Estlin