HUDDERSFIELD ART collective CollaborARTi and health and wellbeing social enterprise Locorum are marking Black History Month with a new exhibition conceived by “Mothers, Sisters and Aunties!”
“Celebrating Creative and Cultural Roots in Kirklees” is an exhibition and celebration exploring the 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and roots to Commonwealth countries.
The exhibition displays artwork and writing created during a series of workshops managed and led by CollaborARTi creative practitioners in spring and summer 2023 exploring themes arising from migration to Kirklees from the Commonwealth countries.
Participants explored their heritage and identity through block printing, jewellery and macramé necklace making, diamond art, origami, felting and spoken word workshops.
As part of the project cards were also sent out to local families from 54 Commonwealth countries inviting them to share creative responses to the project for an “Identity Corner” in the gallery, which displays the many and varied experiences of people arriving in Kirklees from the Commonwealth.
Among the many contributors to the exhibition are a group of Windrush generation elders from Oasis Care Support Services Connect Group.
They created a 3d illustration depicting their journey to the UK over a four-week period working with Oasis Care’s arts and crafts specialist Pearline Reilly.
The inspiration for the project arose from some conversations held online in 2021. Portia Roberts-Popham, Chief Executive Officer at Locorum explained: “During lockdown we held some zoom sessions called Mothers, Sisters and Aunties in which we were looking at ways to maintain connections in those difficult times.
“We recognised it was really important to have conversations between generations and between communities.
“So many of us recognised the role of our mothers in passing on our heritage. At the same time there was this relationship to England, the ‘Mother Country’. There was also a perception that skills in traditional art forms were at risk of being lost.
“Celebrating Creative and Cultural Roots explores some of these themes, working across generations in a wide range of creative cultural activities. It’s been a joy to see so many people engaging enthusiastically with the program.
“When people feel confident about themselves and their heritage, and can express that through art, drama, music, spoken word, whatever medium, that can contribute hugely to a better sense of wellbeing.”
One of the creative practitioners involved in the project was Lorna Hanson, a jewellery and graphic designer based in Huddersfield. Lorna’s stunning, Tree of Life triptych Macramé dreamcatcher is inspired by the theme of the exhibition Cultural Roots in Kirklees.
The tree of Life piece with its interwoven knots is a celebration of the continuous growth and strength of the diverse diaspora within the Huddersfield community.
Hanson shared some of her skills during a summer creative workshop with the Reach Performing Arts group, where the participants chose the flags they resonated with from their heritage to create a variety of colourful jewellery and accessories with the use of key macrame knotting techniques.
The final creations are a spectacular addition to the installation now on display at the exhibition, Each piece created uses colours from flags of the Commonwealth countries.
Hanson went on to say about the workshop experience that: “Diaspora is a Greek word meaning “to sow over, or to scatter.
“From a tiny seed to sapling, to fully mature trees as in life there is always a continuous cycle of growth.
“We as individuals never stop growing but constantly absorb new information and knowledge.I enjoyed passing on my knowledge of macrame onto the younger generation inspiring them through a creative art form which they found successfully engaging giving them the ability to contribute meaningfully to the final exhibition.”
Kath Wright, Co-founder and Chair at CollaborARTi said: “This project has been a fantastic collaborative project for all involved. CollaborARTi practitioners have loved managing and delivering this series of workshops and working with all the different groups.
“This project has increased our members’ self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. It’s a great example of how funding our grassroots organisation can help build trust and foster understanding between different cultures and enable so much. We are looking forward to working on future themes.”
Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to view Jamaican artist Errol Beckford’s impressive wood carved sculptures in Gallery Three at CollaborARTi. Errol specialises in abstract/folk-art and carvings from the roots of trees.
You can see more about the project and exhibition on the c3happenings website.
The exhibition will run in Huddersfield Town Centre throughout October at CollaborARTi Gallery 2, Huddersfield Piazza (opposite the former library building main steps) Monday- Saturday 11 am til 3pm.