• Sarah Tempest

Young at Art

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Rooftop is launching an art project in our Young Person's Service (YPS) Schemes with the help of Artspace in Cinderford. Large canvases have been donated and the finale of the project will be seeing how our young residents have transformed these.

Our Young Persons Service is based in four schemes, two in Gloucester, one in Tewkesbury and one in Lydney. It is hoped that this art project will help our young residents to process some of the emotions that the pandemic has raised and also to learn new skills. It was the idea of Rooftop's Health and Wellbeing Team. The staff in this department are dedicated to delivering Rooftop's commitment to enriching the lives of our customers, providing events and activities to promote well being and to build a sense of community.

Derry Cleaton is Rooftop's Team Leader for Gloucestershire and it was because of the death of her sister in law, more than thirty years ago, that this project began its journey. Nicola Brain was a talented artist who was awarded the Henry Moore Bursary to study for her Masters in Art at the Chelsea College of Art in London. She specialised in abstract art and loved the work of Willem de Kooning, who she studied.

Nicola then won the prestigious Pris de Roma to study at the British School in Rome. Tragically, while in Italy, Nicola took her own life.

Woman VI by Willem de Kooning 1953

Nicola's family have donated many of her canvases to galleries or organisations, for example, the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Bishops Cleeve has one. Over the years they have been part of exhibitions in London, celebrating all of the Rome Scholars, and also more locally at an exhibition in Gloucester's Guildhall.

One of Nicola's works kept by the family

The family still have many in their possession, including some very large canvases that have been stored in the garage. For years they've wondered what to do with them and Derry suggested they could be used for some fun for young adults in our YPS scheme and a distraction in these difficult times. Nicola's mother, sister and brother have agreed. On a practical level, the customers get something to do that's creative, but it has become a concept where young residents are able to express themselves and release emotions that have perhaps become heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the people who live in our YPS accommodation have suffered from fractured, disjointed lives, through family breakups or traumatic events, so the idea of the art project was born to allow them to share, communicate and connect with people.

Each of our four YPS schemes will get three canvases. They already have Nicola's original work on them. The idea is for them to create their own work and paint on top of what's there, but to leave a section of the original artwork visible, incorporated into the new design. Nicola did not have the benefit of good pastoral support when she tragically killed herself more than three decades ago. Her work and canvases will now be a help in a day and age where it is recognised that help with mental well being is essential.

Another of Nicola's works still with the family

Funding has been secured from Tewkesbury Borough Council by Rooftop's Health and Well Being Team and we have formed a partnership with Artspace in Cinderford to help the young people create artworks they are proud of. Artspace is providing tuition over the six weeks of the project through two artists Bela Kielt and Warren Day, so the residents will benefit from experts and complete a course that may help them with future work or study.

Bela Kielt paints on wood and makes lino prints. Bela takes inspiration from nature and is fascinated by worldwide folk art and patterns. A few years ago, she started work as a tutor at ArtSpace in Cinderford, and through working with many different groups, found a new passion in creating art with people, for people, by sharing new skills and experiences.

"Untitled" acrylic paint on wood Bela Kielt

Bela wants to share ideas and skills with our Rooftop residents. She will introduce them to poster, collage, print and monoprinting with acrylic paints; a range of techniques and ways to create unusual patterns and backgrounds using ordinary objects (substituting and experimenting with patterns); manipulating a printed image by cutting and assembling them in an unordinary way; using colour to express feelings, emotions (cold and warm colours); listening to a variety of sounds and comparing them to shapes, colours; as well as using storytelling and poems and lyrics as a way of expressing feelings.

"Puzzlewood" by Warren Day

Warren Day is a landscape painter specialising in trees, forests and rural landscapes, predominately of the Forest of Dean and surrounding area, showing paths and trackways, undergrowth and scrubland, a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees, and forms of integrated man-made activity. What distinguishes his work are the real earth samples that are integrated into the artwork, adding texture and literally a piece of the scenery; reinforcing the connection between the landscape and the painting. On closer inspection, one can see small fragments of leaves, seeds and other organic matter within this ‘living painting medium’. From university to commercial illustrator, working for clients such as Punch magazine and the Radio Times, Warren has spent the last 25 years as a fully qualified Art and Design teacher.

"Two Rivers" by Warren Day

Warren says the project aim is to give learners the opportunity to develop necessary skills to produce a final piece of work on canvas.

The initial suggestion of their thoughts and feelings during the COVID-19 lockdown will be discussed, but he's happy for them to alter this subject in order to project any appropriate message they wish.

"The group work aspect will require careful negotiation and pairing of learners and it is expected that they will have different interests, artistic tastes and skill levels," he says. Warren added that the young people will also be given the opportunity to develop an individual response, perhaps in the form of smaller A3 pieces of work on card or similar.

Rooftop's Health and Wellbeing Team have so far sourced materials such as paint, brushes, palettes, and more to support the creation of this project. The young people will also have more art materials supplied to them from Artspace.

There will be an opportunity for the works created to be displayed at the end of this project when it is safe and suitable to do so. To make this interesting and engaging for the young people there will be a competition between our four YPS schemes, with prizes for the artwork.

The project will be starting on Monday 22nd June, via Zoom, and will run for 6 weeks. We can't wait to show you the finished artworks!

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