Creative Communities

Working on your own as a creative maker or artist is hard enough in normal times and it’s even more challenging this year, both financially and personally. Isolation and struggling alone is very real. It can be hard to connect with friends and make new ones when you aren’t doing exhibitions, shows, teaching or other events where we normally get together.

WebinArt Establish programme has been created to help established artists and makers to connect, share, learn and grow. We are here to support you.

WebinArt is an online creative community of established artists and makers learning, sharing and supporting.  We come together through online forums, Zoom networking and peer mentoring groups to share experiences, knowledge and support each other. I am the co-ordinator for the Establish group, creating a community of peers to learn and grow. This is the best way to work with me on a mentoring basis if you are an established (3 years or so) creative business. And it’s only £8 per month!

Establish Membership gives you access to:

  • An online forum where members share and learn from each other, facilitated by Ruth Singer with monthly focus challenges and topics
  • 2 special events a year delving deep into topics that are important to our members
  • Monthly Zoom networking sessions led by artist and mentor Ruth Singer
  • Quarterly peer mentoring sessions with a small group of like-minded artists/makers where you can talk about the issue you want to delve into for your own business
  • An online school of recorded webinars and artist / organisation interviews 
  • Live webinars once a month
  • Networking with midlands-based arts organisations
  • Optional add-ons (pay as you go) 1:1 mentoring with specialists 

Does this sound like something you need? It’s only £8 per month which is heavily subsidised. If you want to apply, register your interest here. If you aren’t quite sure, find out more here or drop me a line and we can chat.

Very inspiring and motivating. Great to work with others in my group too!

So far it’s been completely transformative. I don’t think I would have got so far with my new business without it.

WebinArt 2020/21 is generously subsidised by our funding partners – Leicestershire County Council, Arts Council England, Derbyshire County Council, Hinckley + Bosworth Borough Council, North West Leicestershire District Council, Blaby District Council + Rutland County Council. 

Isolated Moments

I have created an embroidery project for Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, inspired by my time in lockdown (which I am still in!). The project is based around negative space embroidery and using leaf-shapes to create the design. It reflects the isolation of lockdown and the connection with local nature which so many people have experienced this year. You can find the activity here.

Textiles In Lockdown

I am delighted to be working with Gawthorpe Textiles Collection to create a Textiles In Lockdown commission. 

Graphic showing Gawthorpe Textiles Collection logo. The text is Textiles in Lockdown. Share your experiences of textile in making during lockdown for Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. Arts Council Logo

We are living through a significant moment in history which has seen a huge resurgence in craft activity with groups and individuals coming together to support the creation of PPE for the health and care services. Others have taken the opportunity to learn new skills or rediscover old ones, to pass the time in lockdown, to support home schooling, to make do and mend while shops have been closed and to support personal wellbeing.  

As a museum of textiles, Gawthorpe Textiles Collection feel that it is important to capture and record the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on textile craft at this important time and explore what legacy there may be. 

As part of a grant received from the Arts Council England Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Ruth will gather stories to create a digital archive of activity as well as create a digital publication and podcast. 

We will be seeking out stories from Lancashire and the North West as well as a broader perspective from the wider UK and the world. More details will be released over the coming days of how you can get involved in sharing your story. 

Find out more here

Step By Step

One day at a time

Not too long ago I had a wall planner diary for the whole year, I was waiting to hear about a 12-month project so I could fully schedule in my 12-18 month work plan around my holidays, teaching away from home, deadlines and exhibition touring schedule. I always have teaching and exhibition plans up to 2 years ahead in my diary and a plan for what work I will be doing from month to month, usually quite detailed for 6 months or more ahead. I like planning. I love knowing what’s coming up and what I need to do to keep up to speed with both the work and the time off. Obviously that’s all had to change. Instead of long-term plans I have a blank diary with some pencilled-in possible things later in the year if things get better and an income planner which is less encouraging every day.  Like all self-employed artists, I’m having to rethink a lot of what I do and how I do it. I am incredibly lucky to have some ongoing paid work which will keep me afloat while everything else is in chaos, and I have a safe home to be in and the great blessing of a home studio.

 

Over the last few years I have travelled thousands of miles for teaching and exhibitions and spent far too much time away from home and it was my 2020 plan to spend more time at home and get on with some self-initiated projects. Not all of those are going to work out so I am still doing ongoing rethinking about what I can do to keep my business afloat, even as I ‘celebrate’ 15 years as a wholly self-employed artist / writer. I am incredibly proud to have made it through 15 years, including the last hard 10 years of Tory austerity which has radically cut arts funding alongside so much more. Part of this year’s plan was to figure out how to pivot my practice so my work would support my social justice values whilst still making me a living. Some of that thinking work is still ticking over, some of it is going into (modified) practice and I am exploring new routes to making that happen. However, I was turned down for 3 lots of funding for this work in January which has made it even harder to see the route through, and which is only getting more difficult now. But the work itself, using art to make lives better for those most severely disadvantaged, is even more important now that the inequalities in our society are being shown so starkly.  This will continue to develop, but at the moment I need to focus on supporting community action where I can and concentrating on making a living so I can still be ready to rise up and work for and with other people when the time is right. At the moment I am creating resource packs for Criminal Quilts work with women on probation, in place of workshops I was due to run in May. I will be doing a lot more like this I think, finding ways to get creativity and self expression into the lives of people who need it the most without being able to meet with them in safe, creative spaces.

If you would like to support my work, you might like to take a look at my Patreon membership where for just $10 a month you will get a digital mini magazine about my work, textiles and whatever interesting things catch my eye. You could also get a monthly print of my work – this months are just about to go out and May’s will be ready soon. Subscribers are a vital life line for artists and creatives who normally rely on teaching income or public-facing work which we just can’t do at the moment, and every single one of you makes a huge and very real different to me at the moment, and always.

Creating Community

I’m always being asked what inspires me, where I get my ideas from, how those ideas go from thoughts to textiles, how I create exhibitions, what my next project will be and so much more…  With this in mind, I have come up with a behind-the-scenes mini magazine where you will be able to find out just those things, and even see inside my studio every month. I’ve created  subscription community in Patreon where you can join up to get monthly updates about what is going on in my studio and in my working life and support my creative practice at the same time. I hope to create a space where I can share more about what I do with the people who are really interested. You can ask for particular themes or stories in my posts and in the magazine. The April issue will cover the development of Criminal Quilts and where that project has come from and where it is going. There’s a sample mini magazine section here to download {patreon news sample} and much more to look at on the Patreon page itself.

There are three different membership levels including a monthly art print posted directly to you as well as the mini digital magazine at just $10 a month and the Cotton supporter level at only $5 a month. This is open to anyone in the world so I hope it will inspire you too.

 

 

 

Libraries Live Artist Residency

I’m almost at the end of my two-month library artist residency. For the last few weeks I’ve been in the village library / community hub of Newbold Verdon in rural West Leicestershire. I’ve been talking to volunteers, running workshops for over 50s and getting a feel for why so many people volunteer and why they love it so much. I’ve focussed my sessions around pattern-making; simple, everyday creative activities. We’ve had great time doing village walks collecting patterns through rubbings and photography, cyanotypes in the sunshine, drawing, stamping and simple embroidery, and have visited the local WI and run a session for the Forget Me Not dementia cafe.

Early next year I will be working on a commission for the library to keep, using digital patterns created from the drawings, printing and photos created during the workshops and some other ideas I am working on about volunteering and the sense of community the library creates.

Criminal Quilts collaborative quilt

Information regarding returning your quilt square including the address is all in the document below. Thank you

collaborative quilt return form

 

 

CLOSED!

Thanks for your interest but I’ve now had over 100 people register which already makes an enormous quilt!

I am hoping to re-open this later in the year for exhibitions in 2019, so please keep in touch by signing up to my mailing list, following this blog or my social media including Criminal Quilts Twitter

 

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Craft for Solidarity

IMG_20160630_095730-1

 

In a small but meaningful gesture of solidarity, hope, diversity and community, I am gathering knitted hearts to yarn storm public and community buildings in Leicester. Leicester (narrowly) voted Remain, of which I am enormously proud, but still many people from our wonderful diverse community in Leicester are feeling distressed and vulnerable this week, and many others feeling the need to do something to show our support for them and fight against the racism we are seeing in our country. We hope that a little knitted / crafted  love will help.

We welcome any contributions of handmade hearts in any material, craft or technique, although ideally not paper as we will probably be putting them outside.  There is now a Facebook group for discussion and co-ordination of hearts and links with other groups around the country doing similar things.

We are having a first Craft for Solidarity event on 7th July  6-8.30pm in Leicester city centre. Please message me (below) for details (limited spaces).

If you would like to contribute / collaborate please use the form below to email me, contributions until the end of July would be very welcome.

Pinterest board for ideas

Knitting & crochet pattern suggestions:

Crochet Hearts

Domino Knitted Heart

Simple garter stitch heart

LUV heart (we have permission to distribute this pattern for free)

Heart Attack Heart 

 

Narrative Threads workshop for Gifted 15

Precious objects

Join me for a free, drop in workshop for adults during Gifted 15 at the National Centre for Craft & Design on Saturday 28th November 2015 10am-4pm.

Bring along an every day object or piece of junk and transform it into a precious amulet with some simple textile techniques.

 

Narrative Threads community projects

Part of my Narrative Threads exhibition artist residency has been to work with local communities around Sleaford and the National Centre for Craft and Design. I built this into my Arts Council funding so I could experiment with new ways of working with different audiences, continue to build my community arts CV and try and engage the local community with my work and the messages around it.

A lot of the work created in these workshops and events will be displayed as part of Narrative Threads.

Earlier in the summer I worked with a Sleaford primary school on a project exploring amulets and objects with stories. In the first session we investigated words and symbols which have significance across cultures and in different time periods. The children made tags with special messages, images and symbols. For the second session they brought in special objects and collected natural materials to use to make their own amulets. We used printing, sewing and wrapping to make the amulets and each child wrote about their amulets and why it was special.

 

Sleaford Alzheimers Society

It has been particularly rewarding to work at the Sleaford Dementia Cafe run by the Alzheimers Society. In the first session we created Memory Collages, using fabric scraps and felt to build up pictures of special places or hobbies.

For the second session I took along a reminiscence box of old clothes and textiles to spark memories and stories similar to my textile memories project. These will be embroidered onto a cloth for display in the exhibition. I had hoped it would be engaging for the participants and their carers to reminisce about textile memories from their families. Many people talked about their childhood, their mother’s embroidery skills – or lack of them – and their own sewing for their children. It was a fascinating and absorbing day, and I hope to do more of this kind of work in the future.

I have also run workshops for families during school holidays, making painted and embroidered pincushions and other drop-in craft workshops.

Ruth Singer community project

 

Yesterday I ran a workshops for Arts NK’s community wellbeing event at Waddington, Lincs making memory tags- a decorated luggage label telling a story of a happy memory or something important in your life.

 

I am currently working with A Level textiles students who are creating work inspired by mine as part of the assessed portfolio. Their finished pieces will also be in the exhibition.

Once the exhibition is open I will continue to work with groups including a GCSE group and community sessions for a local sheltered housing scheme. I have also set up Crafts for Relaxation, a free monthly workshop for people who might not be able to afford or attend normal workshops, with the idea of participants meeting new people and getting some time to themselves. This programme has taken some time to get up and running and it has been a challenge to reach the right audience but it is a useful process for me in working out how to self-run community projects in the future.