CREATIVE COHORT CONGREGATE AT THE COAST – Out of the Box Visit to Saltburn by the Sea

On a lovely June day, nineteen WEA Creative Arts and Creative Writing for Wellbeing students from York came together with tutors to take part in an “Out of the Box” cultural visit to Saltburn by the Sea.

Out of The Box Saltburn Victorian Pier York groups visit 2015.1

The purpose of the day was to experience the town of Saltburn as a piece of live history, learn about Henry Pease and how his vision of a heavenly town on the cliff top became a reality and take inspiration from the visit to work on pieces of creative art and writing in follow up study sessions.  Another important intended outcome of the day was to provide a much needed opportunity to enhance students’ health and wellbeing providing a perfect setting to relax and lower stress levels.

Out of The Box Saltburn Rail station mosaic York groups visit 2015 After a very social and relaxing train journey the group arrived at Saltburn and were immediately able to admire the colourful mosaics which adorned the station wall, learning about the history of the town which they depicted. From here the group were taken on an informative walking tour exploring the landscape, discovering the history of some of the fine old buildings, and saying hello to the sculptured statue of Henry Pease. Other highlights of the day were a fascinating funicular ride and a scintillating stroll along the Victorian pier.

Cameras were clicking as students took every opportunity to capture the colourful surroundings. Images were shared and discussed with enthusiasm on the train journey back to York. So many ideas emerging already for poetry and art work to follow. It had been such a good day; a day full of learning and new experiences, and one which had a significant impact on students’ health and wellbeing.

Student reflected and responded with the following comments:

Out of The Box Saltburn Woodland Walk York groups visit 2015“This day was an injection of wellbeing into my tired system, with the WEA organising everything to the last detail. The visit to Saltburn has been my most memorable experience in my 4 years with the WEA.”

“I loved our Saltburn trip. The fresh sea air, the interesting location and the good company were exactly what I needed to lift my mood. What a beautiful place! I can’t wait to get my paints out and capture some of the joy of the day.”

“A very good day, lots of valuable experiences for our learning in the future. Strong bonds made between individuals and the group. Good support available and the itinerary wasn’t too demanding.”

“The visit went really well. Took a lot of photos and got so much inspiration for my art work. Enjoyed the company.”

“Lovely scenery. I’m certainly thinking of going to Saltburn again.”

“Saltburn; a beautiful day, sharing hidden gems and moments of discovery.”

“Today will be a beautiful memory that I will treasure forever. Thank you for making it possible


ILT in a WEA arts class


As an art tutor, I used to think that a computer would be of no use to me in the work that I did.  Now, I wonder how I ever managed without it! The days of finding the examples of artists work in books, photographing them and then having slides made at the university…going to collect them, at least two days work!

Now, I can search instantly or digitally feed work from my camera into the computer and it takes a fraction of the time. I am also able to take students work and use them directly as examples in many classes.  It has proved to be a rich way of students sharing their work across different groups.  An added bonus is to see delighted faces when their work is seen alongside artists’ work and hearing the comments ‘it looks great projected up like that’.  As students mostly see artists’ work in books, magazines and on screens, it had created a gap between the actual piece of work and the glossy reproductions students end up comparing themselves to.

I also love the flexibility having a computer gives me, especially when internet access is available, being able to respond to what is happening in class and to be able to research and find relevant information and images as they are needed. A site worth visiting

Many of my students are much more up on technology than me and I am trying to catch up quickly.  Some of my students are setting up a group using social media in order to keep in touch and share their work out of class.   I am on a continual learning curve with this.  What do other tutors think?……How do use ILT in your practice?

Humanities Day in York

This vibrant event brought tutors together from across the Humanities including history, family history, archaeology, art history, practical arts, creative writing, literature, languages and politics. Such diversity of tutors at the same event generated some interesting and lively conversations during the day.

The day provided an opportunity for tutors across the region to exchange ideas and find out what was happening elsewhere. There were also lots of interesting updates about what was happening in the region and how it might affect Humanities tutors including the ‘Out of the Box’ scheme, Voices of Conflict and the EmCett and SunCett research projects. Linda Croft introduced the ‘Out of the Box’ Scheme, explaining that it provided additional funding for class visits for groups that otherwise would be unable to participate in such activities. Liz McPherson then gave her experience as a WEA tutor who had used the funding to take her group of creative writers to the National Mining Museum near Wakefield. The group had produced a book of their creative writing inspired by the visit. Additionally, the group benefited in different ways including confidence and friendships. The scheme provides wonderful opportunities for all concerned and hopefully some more groups will be able to take advantage of it after the event. The Voices of Conflict project marks the centenary of World War One, and incorporates a wide range of course and activities. The report reflected on what had already happened in the region and the exciting prospects for the project on the horizon. Victoria Beauchamp and Nicola Thorpe gave an overview of their EmCett research about how do we effectively capture the impact that visits to cultural sites has on students; and Sarah Holland talked about the findings of her SunCett research into the impact of studying local history on mental health and wellbeing.

In addition, there were a series of workshops and short sessions engaging tutors with ideas and activities that related to the humanities. The morning sessions revolved around using the environment creatively, and included creative writing, line drawing, using maps and recording buildings. It was a great opportunity to try something new and think about how different curriculum areas could embrace the local environment in creative ways. In the afternoon, three short workshops explored ways in which to creatively record progress. Sarah Holland discussed how history, archaeology, writing and ESOL tutors and students had already effectively used the WEA Yorkshire and Humber Blog. Victoria and Nicola introduced a creative video that captured the thoughts and actions of groups of Digability students to showcase progress in a very visual format. Jackie Depelle combined family history and scrapbooking to demonstrate how this creative activity could be used to evidence progress.

A big thank you to everyone who organised the event, and especially to Linda Croft, Victoria Beauchamp and Nicola Thorpe for ensuring the day ran so smoothly.

A Warm Welcome from Ashley Jackson

Although the Promoting Community Arts course has officially ended work on the iBook is still actively taking place. It is also an opportunity to reflect on some of the best bits of the course, and one of the many highlights was being invited to visit Ashley Jackson’s studio in Holmfirth. Ashley had visited the Packhorse Gallery earlier in the year, and had been very impressed by its aims and ethos. When approached by the group to write the foreword for the digital book they were creating, Ashley was happy to oblige. In addition, the group were invited to visit his gallery and have a behind the scenes tour with the artist himself. The group set off full of anticipation.

Ashley Jackson

On arrival at the gallery in Holmfirth Ashley greeted us and introduced us to a wide variety of his work. Everyone agreed how down to earth he was and were full of admiration for his work. They were particularly interested to hear about his inspirations and techniques. Ashley was also only too happy to answer our questions about art and creativity. He told us that art meant a lot to him, and that he enjoyed sketching in the landscape. His greatest accolade is when people tell him they have been out and about and seen an ‘Ashley Jackson’ sky or landscape. Interestingly, Ashley was unequivocally not favourable towards digitally enhanced artworks. This sparked some lively debate afterwards as the group and members of the gallery use a range of mediums – not least of which was the iPad app brushes that David Hockney was famous for creating a whole exhibition by. The group had the opportunity to use the app and create a range of digital art works – some of which will feature in the digital book. Ashley also talked to us about the way in which he uses art to engage certain social groups. Everyone enjoyed looking at the original art work on display and talking to Ashley about how he has created it. As we got ready to leave and were thanking Ashley for his time and support, he presented us with an art supplies kit to take back for use at the gallery.


Afterwards we enjoyed a little exploration of Holmfirth before returning home. As we travelled back into Huddersfield on a scenic bus route, we looked for potential ‘Ashley Jackson’ landscapes and skies. Although we could see some possibilities, we agreed that due to the weather the clouds were too bland for an Ashley Jackson!

The iBook will be launched in the new year – look out for further updates on the blog…

A Fond Farewell…

The Promoting Community Arts course at the Packhorse Gallery has drawn to a close after six weeks of learning new skills, sharing experiences, and developing friendships.

Members of the course had learned how to blog, create digital books, and use different apps on the iPads. Many of these skills were applied to raising community awareness about the Packhorse Gallery in Huddersfield, which is run by the mental health charity S2R. This has involved interacting with both the WEA and Packhorse Gallery blogs, and contributing to a digital book about the gallery. The book will contain personal insights into what art and creativity mean to different people, and the importance of both to health, well being and recovery. It also emphasises the importance of community within this process, a place such as the gallery where art not mental health is the common denominator uniting everyone.

The sense of community that this course has facilitated has been tremendous. It has enabled some members of the group to gain in confidence and feel more active citizens; it has empowered individuals to use digital technology and social media to connect with other people to keep in touch with family; it has meant that several people have been able to share their personal journeys in life by developing their own blog sites; it has enhanced the employability skills of those looking for work; it has given hope and fuelled the aspirations of the many talented and creative members of the group; it has forged friendships and forged a sense of community based on shared experiences.

Everyone was sad that the course was coming to a close so soon as they bid a fond farewell to their fellow course members – but there was an optimistic sense that they would meet again – not least at the forthcoming launch of the digital book they have been creating and at a potential follow up course that everyone showed interest in. Watch this space to follow their progress.


Promoting Community Arts

An exciting new WEA course has been launched in Huddersfield to promote community arts. The course is based at the Packhorse Art Gallery in Huddersfield, which is run by the mental health charity S2R. The course provides the opportunity to learn new skills like blogging and creating a digital book, with a view to students being able to apply them to a community project or interest of their own. In addition, the group are contributing to the creation of an iBook about the Packhorse Gallery and the artists who exhibit there, and the role of art and creativity in mental health and well being.

The course has already introduced the group to how to use an iPad, set up blog accounts and commented on blogs, and begun to plan the iBook content. The feedback has been incredibly positive, highlighting the unique learning environment of the class being held at the gallery and the supportive learning environment that the WEA provides. Below are just a few of the comments the group made (on their iPads!):-

No matter what your starting point is, the WEA provide courses that engage and challenge:-

“I have not done anything like this before and I think I will benefit from it”

“This course is very interesting, even though I am familiar with the use of computers there is always something to learn and on this course I have learned how to create a blog”

A positive learning experience:-

“I was just browsing and luckily came across the I pad course which I enrolled on – I’m loving the course and have introduced my friends”

“We find Sarah (the tutor) very understanding, patient and very good at her job”

“I have found it to be very informative and friendly, with a very patient tutor”

“I am finding it very exciting and informative.We have a very lively bunch of ladies doing the course and the atmosphere is buzzing with intellectual energy”

Interests and Aspirations:-

“I’m looking forward to the visit to Ashley Jackson’s gallery”

“We will be able to write about the Gallery and it’s artists and their work and talk to some of the artists about their work”

“We will be learning to upload pictures”

“We will also be able to support the WEA and the marvellous courses that they provide for the Community, like this iPad course”

“I hope to learn how to book holidays and look up information and generally find my way around the iPad”

“My aspirations are to become an avid blogger!”

The learning environment – the Packhorse Art Gallery:-

“The course is held in the S2R Art Gallery, which is a wonderful place to learn due to the relaxing creative atmosphere”

“The Gallery itself is the ideal place for this course as we are going to be contributing to the WordPress blog!”

“I love the gallery”

“I love the different crafts displayed around the gallery”

The group would love to hear your feedback – have you run a similar project, are you thinking of blogging or creating an iBook, or have you simply reflected on the group’s experiences – please leave a comment letting us know what you think and what your experiences have been. And follow the progress of the iBook and the group’s ventures into digital technology and community arts promotion. Please visit the Packhorse Gallery blog as well:-