There has been a lot going on behind the scenes since the last blog. As the Middle Street sessions turn 2 years old I have been reflecting on some of our successes. One of the main aims with the Monday ‘craft therapy’ group was to ensure that others in the group got their chance to lead sessions and this has been really successful. With Kayrakise’s support over the past 18 months, I have been able to take a step back from the Monday night sessions and this has allowed me to work on other things such as the community projects and putting the new website together.

Although the sessions on Monday night are mainly craft based, we have dabbled in some more arty activities such as the popular collage pictures we made with recycled book pages. For those less confident about creating a silhouetted image on top of these we had cut-outs for them to use, but many chose to sketch and paint their images. Creating the right background was the first task, this one was particularly interesting because the blue showing through gave the impression of icy water and Kayrakise placed her penguins carefully so they were standing on the book page ice.

Although I am not a trained art teacher, I did spend some time studying art at college and class myself as a someone who is artistic. I used to love painting when I was younger and there are still a few pieces hung on the walls of my mum’s house that I created when I was in my early twenties. I have experimented with different mediums over the years and love trying out new techniques and learning new skills. Having Two Little Magpies just up the road gives me a great opportunity to book myself onto one of their abundant and high quality courses.

I have been in discussion with chief Magpie Lucy for sometime now about putting together some sessions for younger creatives and she has always been in full support. I am delighted to announce that I will be launching Community Art sessions in July and am privileged to be able to run them in the Magpies’ fantastic studio space at the back of the gift shop. I am aiming these sessions at teens and their focus will be on art for wellbeing, they will hopefully extend support in the community to younger people who have limited creative opportunities outside of school.

During my time working in a city academy, I came across a lot of anxious teens and often found myself mentoring them alongside the academic support I was giving them. I feel very strongly that a society should invest in its young people, they are after all going to succeed us in the future. I have met some amazingly talented students over the years, and it has often troubled me that they are so lacking in self-confidence and feel that they don’t fit in. I recognise this in myself as a teen and feel lucky that I have great resilience and came out of those awkward teenager years a fairly confident adult.

I am really excited about finally getting this new venture off the ground. You might remember that they were planned for launch in January but I had to postpone them for practical reasons. I have a mailing list ready to invite to the launch, and welcome anyone to come and join us on the evening to find out more. I am a little nervous too, but I know that my instinct will guide me and that I can make a success of these sessions, in the way that Monday night exceeded my expectations and has grown into a wonderful thing. If you follow the page you will see I have been practising my painting skills too.