Tetley Workshop – Tiny Houses

Commissioned Work, The Tetley, Workshops

“Joanna Piotrowska’s photographic series Shelter saw her visiting people’s homes and inviting them to create constructions, dens and habitations from the furniture within their living spaces. The resulting constructions reflect their creator’s inner life, history and state of mind, transforming space and material into something deeply personal.” The Tetley, 2018

Inspired by this, I invited participants to create their own tiny shelters. Using recycled materials, with the toilet roll tube as a base, the creations were wonderful, and I really enjoyed listening to the stories about who lived in their tiny houses – dragons, the pencil people (who were bad, allegedly), a tiny mouse, fairies (including a sign pointing the way so they could find shelter in the garden). The children really enjoyed cutting and sticking and really using their imaginations, and it was hopefully a great way for them to learn and interact creatively with their family.

The workshop was at Beeston Festival, in Cross Flatts Park, South Leeds. It was great to introduce The Tetley to the parents, and tell them all about the free workshops that the Tetley offers. I enjoy working small scale festivals like this, and meeting interesting people with creative minds. I had fabulous support from Taneesha (the Tetley’s Participation Producer), and two Springboard volunteers, Herfa and Marnie, both of whom were superb – I definitely couldn’t have done this solo (myelitis and hot weather are really not a good combination).




Sensory Jars

Commissioned Work, Pyramid of Arts, Workshops

I took some photos of jars filled with secret ingredients during my visit to High Rise Sensory Group (one of the groups I manage through my post at Pyramid of Arts). Manipulating them through movement, shaking them and gently agitating the flow of liquids, turning them quickly on their tops, capturing the sun shining through the jars, I photographed the colourful contents as they created wonderful patterns. I put the resulting images together to create glossy collages – and by glossy I mean they are best viewed on a glossy screen.

They remind me of sedimentary rocks, oceans with waves crashing down, blood samples…

What do you see?

Tetley Workshop – Mini Trini Garden

Arts Events, Commissioned Work, Community, The Tetley, Workshops


Day two of The Tetley’s ‘Fantasy Carnival Garden’ and it was a hot one! Felt like we were actually in the Caribbean and not the Brewery Green outside. We had lots of visitors and returning families from yesterday. All the structures on the lawn looked wonderful, with a splash of colour and catching the wind, the birds flew and the windmill flowers span around.

I printed out a few photos of birds from the islands of Trinidad & Tobago, to inspire the children and learn something new about a country they may well never have heard of, until now. I am privy to knowledge about T&T, as I have a (pen)friend who has grown up with me – almost 30 years now! I have been lucky to visit on a couple of occasions, and even had the opportunity to help create the costumes the ‘Mas bands’ wear during the parade.

More about the carnival in T&T can be found here: National Carnival Commission and Carnival in T&T
And of course the reason we are celebrating all things carnival this weekend, the Leeds West Indian Carnival has it’s 50th Anniversary this year. The Tetley is showcasing an exhibition of photos and archival materials of the carnival until October later this year.

Below is how the day went:

The birds in more detail

More from the weekend

Tetley Workshop – Festival Carnival Garden

Commissioned Work, The Tetley, Workshops


This weekend there are four artist workshops at The Tetley as part of the 50 year anniversary of Leeds West Indies Carnival. Each workshop is based around this theme, and together we are building a fantasy carnival garden.

  • Mechanical Flowers – workshop lead by Jim Bond
  • Decorating Large Birds – workshop lead by Hayley Mills-Styles
  • Butterfly Wings – workshop lead by Sarah-Jane Mason
  • Mini Trini Garden – workshop lead by Mindy Goose

My workshop was to create a scene based on Trinidadian (Trini) folklore and their birds. When Carnival first started in Trinidad, the costumes were based on folklore and eventually took inspiration from environment to decorate elaborate costumes, bright colours and bird feathers.

So, inspired by this, we created hummingbirds, flying in the sky, and characters of folklore living in the forest (many of which I have chosen, because they are less macabre and more child friendly). There were illustrated descriptions to read, and photos of the birds of Trinidad & Tobago. We used collage and built 3D jumbies, Mama Dlos, and Papa Bois that lived in the trees.

Tomorrow we expect even more wonderful creations.

Saturday in photos:

More from the weekend

Kirkstall Stories – Family Workshop

Arts Events, Community, Events, Exhibition, Kirkstall Arts, Workshops

This weekend was the 3rd annual Kirkstall Arts Trail. This year  I opted to run a family workshop for Abbey House Museum (Leeds Museums). I’ve been running quite a few story based workshops, and thought a Kirkstall Stories inspired workshop would be great.
We were moved over to the Abbey’s Visitor Centre, which was a great idea, as we were based alongside the main KAT hub, and tea and biscuits on tap!

The day has been very warm, and we were visited by lots of people; sharing the space with a face painter was brilliant, even parents joined in, I haven’t seen many butterflies around recently, but saw plenty today. We worked well together, whilst waiting to have their faces painted, children could take part in the Stories workshop.

Some of the little storybooks the children created were inspired by their time in the Abbey, what they had seen on the trail, or they were just inspired by brilliant imaginations (they all had brilliant imaginations). I am a great fan of using different materials to illustrate with, and we had a variety materials, coloured paper, glittery bits, sticky eyes, coloured pens and pencils, and plenty of different fabrics to use (kindly donated by my friend Kim Searle). I find if someone isn’t fond of drawing, then collage with materials is often a good choice. I also had my trusted story cubes, and photobooks of things mostly photographed in Kirkstall as inspiration.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and sitting with families listening to what they had been up to on the trail, it’s wonderful that Leeds has so much to offer families that is free to participate in.

I didn’t see much of the trail sadly this year (due to illness), so I look forward to seeing all the photos of the weekend being posted online.

Please click on the images and scroll through them, they give insight into the book creation and tell more about the stories the participants were illustrating.

All photos taken on iPhone and edited in Lightroom