St Paul’s Arts Fest 2016

Back in March I attended the 2016 St Paul’s Arts Fest where I took part in creative workshops being held throughout the week. The community arts festival began on the 21st March 2016 at St Paul’s Community Centre (Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP). The festival saw Cambridge and London-based performers and makers come together to explore music, theatre, film, writing, fine art, and crafts through an exhibition, workshops, talks and evening performances.

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - St Paul's Church

…The Newtown area in Cambridge has doubled, and now’s the time to get together and celebrate the diversity of people, skills and talent in our midst! The arts help us to understand the world around us in new ways. Our aim is to develop a strong sense of creativity in our community, a belief that anything is possible. Everyone can get involved – either as audience or hands-on in our workshops…

Kip Gresham (Artistic Director)

I truly believe that the festival met the aims of the organisers. There was a great community spirit and people were brought together to explore their creativity and celebrate the arts within the strong community foundations of St Paul’s; and I came away having made some great connections with the other attendees. This was the opening year of the Arts Fest and I hope to be back again next year! To find out more about the different events that took place please do take a look at the website here. I wanted to share with you some photographs of the workshops I attended as well as some insights into the participating artists.

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Art Exhibition

The main hall was host to an art exhibition which saw the following artists – who either grew up or currently live in the Newtown area of Cambridge – exhibit together for the first time: sculptor Mel Fraser; artist and illustrator Mark Rigby; artist and designer Mr Penfold; painter and printmaker Steve Russell; tapestry-maker Anne Anderson; and master printmaker Kip Gresham. The stone sculptures by contemporary sculptor Mel Fraser really stood out to me (pictured above). It was also great to see the installation of the Jimmy’s Shelter Memorial Banners by Cambridge-based artist Hilary Cox Condron whose work focuses on social change – the banners consist of the names of the 200 service users who have died since the opening of Jimmy’s Night Shelter, Cambridge’s only emergency accommodation provider.

Workshop: Table Top Printmaking

Each of the workshops held throughout the festival were taught by a local artist and each session lasted for two hours. On the first day I attended a table top printmaking session which was taught by The Print Studio Cambridge‘s master printmaker Kip Gresham. We were shown some simple printmaking techniques that with the right materials and equipment could be done at home. The main exercise was to experiment with an etching plate – from initial mark-making, to the application of the ink, and use of the table top roller.

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Table Top Printmaking Workshop

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Table Top Printmaking Workshop 2

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Table Top Printmaking Workshop 3

Workshop: Figure Drawing

On the Tuesday I attended a figure drawing session with local artist, teacher and illustrator Annabel Lee. The workshop involved learning the very basic steps of drawing the human figure, using what we had learnt to explore sketching different poses, and seeing ways in which these techniques could be used to develop a character. Annabel has over 20 years experience working as a theatre designer and so she also showed us some great examples of costume design – all of which started with drawing a basic figure.

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Figure Drawing Workshop

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Figure Drawing Workshop 2

Workshops: Illuminated Capitals & Beginners Calligraphy

I had booked for a full day at the festival on the Wednesday. In the morning I attended the illuminated capitals workshop and in the afternoon I headed back to learn the basic rules of calligraphy. It is worth noting here that all of the workshops held throughout the event were free to book onto. The organisers then asked for a donation on the day which meant you could pay what you felt was appropriate. The two lettering workshops were lead by Jane Gresham – a freelance calligrapher with over 30 years experience and the programme director for St Paul’s Arts Fest.

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Illuminated Capitals Workshop

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Illuminated Capitals Workshop 2

I had really been looking forward to trying out a calligraphy workshop since receiving the second We Make Collective kit back in December – and came away after this session feeling more confident to try it out at home. The illuminated capitals session provided the opportunity to explore the different art and craft materials on hand – including some beautiful gold ink which could be used to highlight the letters. These two workshops in particular flew by and I could have carried on for hours but it was equally as great to see what could be achieved within the two hour sessions!

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Beginners Calligraphy Workshop

Workshop: Life Drawing

The final workshop I attended was the life drawing class with Mark Rigby. Mark has been running life drawing classes in Cambridge for years and is also a lecturer in Art and Design at Cambridge Regional College. As well as teaching he also exhibits his work – drawing, painting and printmaking – in local galleries. The last time I took part in a life drawing class was when I was in Sixth Form and I was really keen to go when I saw this workshop within the Arts Fest programme. Mark talked us through a lot in a very short time and gave some great advice! He mentioned proportion, objective, the “ideal figure” and point of view – and advised us to: see the body as a whole; draw lightly and avoid details; and think about the whole shape. We started by doing five five-minute drawings and moved on to longer poses. It was a great way to finish off my week of creative discovery!

St Paul's Arts Fest 2016 - Life Drawing Workshop

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience of this year’s Arts Fest at St Paul’s. Unfortunately, I did not have time to attend the talks and evening performances due to other commitments but I really do hope to see St Paul’s Arts Fest back in 2017 so that I can discover more! If you attended any of the workshops, talks or performances then I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. To be the first to find out about future events then make sure you are following the organisers on Twitter and Facebook!

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