Our February meeting was led by committee member Alan Davey with a talk entitled “Droitwich Treasures”. Alan illustrated his talk with photos and showed many parts of Droitwich which he considers as treasures. Members could decide if they agreed with his choices. Are they really the treasures of Droitwich? Can we think of other hidden treasures?
This year we held our AGM online. Supporting documents were sent out by email ahead of the meeting. Key officers gave reports and the committee was elected. Tamara Jelaca was thanked for her work over a number of years as she has decided to step down from the committee. Wendy Simmons and Chris Walker were elected as new committee members. On completion of the formal part of the meeting, the remaining time was used to chat informally.
Our first meeting of 2021 was a “Call My Bluff” contest with Droitwich Probus 87.
Many of us will remember Frank Muir, Patrick Campbell, Robert Robinson, and others appearing in over 1,000 “Call My Bluff” television programmes aired between 1965 and 1988. The game revolves around providing three definitions of an obscure word, only one of which is true. The team members must weed out the fictional meanings and choose the correct one. The words are often bizarre, with their meanings difficult to guess, all of which adds humour and creativity to the game.
The teams took it in turns and points were awarded for selecting the correct definition. Our version was played over Zoom, which brought its own challenges!
Tina Watkins in Park’s Café
During the early part of December 2020, Park’s Café featured the work of Tina Watkins. Tina was only on the walls for two weeks due to Park’s having to close due to the pandemic. You can find more about Tina at www.covwarsoart.co.uk/artists/tina-watkins
Remembrance Sunday 2020
Due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, there was no formal parade, public service or gathering on Remembrance Sunday in Droitwich. Organisations and individuals were able to lay wreaths in advance and ensure social distancing arrangements. Our Chairman, Helen Karakashian, laid a wreath on behalf of Droitwich Arts Network. The wreath was made by members and DAN made a donation to the British Legion Poppy Campaign.
Art Demonstration on 18th November 2020
Wendy Simmons recently joined DAN, and is an emerging pastel, landscape artist living in Droitwich. Wendy favours a speedy and impressionistic style. Much of lockdown she spent learning and developing her drawing skills with pastels; using many locations in and around Droitwich as her inspiration. From the Bluebells at Trench Woods, the wildflowers at Salwarpe and scenes from the canal.
Wendy gave a fascinating demonstrating of some of her newly developed skills and talked about her lockdown experiences on zoom for all DAN members on Wednesday 18th of November at 7.30pm.
Penelope Dykes paintings in Park’s Cafe
Penelope Dykes displayed her artwork in Park’s Cafe from the 13th October to the 4th November 2020 when the second lockdown started.
Roger Ricketts began painting at age of 20, just as a hobby. He was made redundant at the age of 60 and decided to take up painting again, mostly in the style of Bob Ross (wet on wet) but found his latest style about 18 months ago.
Droitwich Arts Network sponsors High School Creative Writing Award 2020
For the last two years, as Chair of DAN, Helen Karakashian has judged a Creative Writing Competition at Droitwich Spa High School together with Karen Moore a recently retired deputy head at the school, who instigated the award. Karen provided an elegant glass trophy and DAN sponsored the competition, giving £100 to the winner. The title this year was ‘ The World Is On Fire’ . This competition is in its infancy but numbers of entries have increased as has the standard. No boys have entered the competition so far and it is hoped to encourage a wider field of entry in the future. Once Karen and I had read all the entries, written down our comments and shared our views, we choose two essays to send to an external judge. This year, Ross Armstrong, actor and writer and a former pupil of the High School gave the final judgement. The winner for 2020, Grace Rogers, wrote an outstanding piece, dramatic, original, beautifully crafted and a real page turner. She is now in the Upper 6th and plans to read English and become a teacher and a writer. Martha Frapwell, the runner up, wrote a very sensitive and thoughtful essay and is now at the 6th Form College studying science subjects. The presentations took place in the grounds of the High School on Thursday 8th October 2020 and Rhys Jones took some excellent photos for the local press. Grace was presented with the Karen Moore Trophy together with her cheque for £100, which she plans to save towards her university expenses. Ross Armstrong kindly donate copies of his debut novel, The Watcher, published in 2016 which also contained a personal note from Karen Moore who was disappointed not to be able to attend the presentation. These were presented to Grace and Martha by the head Mrs. Natalie Waters.
21st October 2020 Meeting
Stewart Bourne talked about his creative image making, and showed a number of examples. This image “Man on bench with squid” is one that Stewart included in our recent Virtual Exhibition. Stewart says “Photography, like most visual art, can be a means for exploring our experience of life and our shifting, and often unreliable, perceptions of the world around us. The images that I attempt to produce are part of my own personal exploration and as such, often fall far short of what I intended to say, but, hopefully, motivate me to keep looking. My images are intended to be “about” things, rather than “of” things and as such may be combined with writing or music. One of my ideals is that the viewer recognises what they are looking at but remain a little uncertain about what they are seeing, and that this may stimulate a little reflection beyond the immediate and the obvious. I am not a keen photographer as such and would much rather my work be judged as images not photographs.
Rosie Philpott paintings in Park’s Cafe
Rosie Philpott displayed her artwork in Park’s Cafe from the 15th September to the 13th October 2020.
16th September 2020 Meeting
Charley Barnes PhD, 2019-20 Worcestershire Poet Laureate was our guest speaker on the 16th of September. Rhys Jones interviewed Charlie who outlined her activities and experiences as Poet Laureate, answered questions, and included some of her poems and short items of prose. Charley is currently Writer in Residence at The Swan Theatre, Managing Director of Sabotage Reviews, Visiting Lecturer at Newman University and the University of Worcester, and Editor of “Dear Reader” (www.dearreaderpoetry.com). Charley has made a number of appearances at Park’s Cafe in recent years.
A video recording of the session is available in the Members’ Area of the website.
Jo Morris paintings in Park’s Cafe
Jo Morris displayed her artwork in Park’s Cafe from the 18th August to 15th September 2020.
Ken Bell’s paintings in the Button Tree Cafe from 4th August to 8th September 2020.
27th August 2020 Meeting
Our August Zoom meeting was a fascinating presentation by Les Jones, the creator and sole producer of Elsie Magazine. There’s no advertising in Elsie Magazine, which means there’s no external influence on what goes inside. And what goes inside is a visual cornucopia of stuff that inspires, intrigues and excites him. Les has fascinating approaches to art and design, and does a variety of projects. More about Les and Elsie Magazine can be seen at www.elsiemagazine.com . A video recording is now available in the Members’ Area of the website.
Roger Rickett’s paintings in Park’s Cafe from 4th July to the 18th August 2020
Peter Hawkins paintings in the Button Tree Cafe from 10 March to 4 August 2020
This was a new venue and Peter Hawkins was the first to display some of his work. Due to the coronavirus lockdown, Peter’s paintings stayed in the Button Tree cafe rather longer than planned.
Jo Morris exhibited in Droitwich Library from the 7th March to Lockdown 2020
Peter Hawkins paintings in Park’s Cafe from 3 March to end June 2020
Peter Hawkins is an amateur artist from Droitwich Spa, and was chair of Droitwich Arts Network for a number of years. Peter, also a member of Elmbridge Art Club, was always interesting in art, enjoying drawing and painting when his work allowed him some time off. With early retirement, he took painting more seriously, and now he’s one of the most prolific members of the network.
Peter’s exhibition showed 12 new acrylic paintings. Landscapes of local and further away countryside show in great details all beauty of green hills and waterways. Peter’s love for travelling is often presented in skilfully painted coastal towns, boats and scenery.
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, Peter’s paintings stayed in Park’s cafe rather longer than planned.
Members’ Show and Tell
On 17th June 2020 three members talked to us about their work via Zoom.
We had three volunteers: Alan Davey showed and talked about a sculpture, and his work on the old Droitwich Town signs. Claire Hilton talked about her involvement with Worcester Arts. And Rhys Jones explained why black and white photography can be more interesting than colour, and demonstrated various ways of creating mono images.
It was with much sadness that we learned that Shaun Best had passed away. It was a huge shock for everyone and of course devastating for his wife and family. Shaun was very involved with the music life of Droitwich Spa and always supportive of DAN activities. This photo was taken during his time as Mayor of Droitwich when he opened ArtsFest 2017.
One of the most successful collaborations between Shaun and Droitwich Arts Network was the “Last Night of the Proms” event held on 28th July 2018, which raised funds for essential repairs to St Andrew’s Church.
Online Demonstration by Colin Jack
On Wednesday 20th May, Colin Jack gave an online demonstration using Zoom. A good number of members joined the session and enjoyed Colin’s jokes as well as his painting skills. Many of you know that Colin is deaf so we made good use of the Zoom “Chat” facility to ask questions. Colin gave very full and helpful answers. The session was recorded and the recording can be made available to members who missed the session.
Rosie Philpott Creates Free Colouring Pages To Thank Key Workers
Local artist, illustrator, and member of Droitwich Arts Network Rosie Philpott, who is best known for her ‘wonky’ paintings, has created a series of free colouring pages to thank key workers in the area. Rosie says: “The only way I know how to help people is through art. I know from experience that colouring or any form of creativity is a great way to cope with anxiety and is a relaxing experience. I wanted to share this with people by creating colouring pages that all ages can enjoy.”
The colouring pages can be found on Rosie’s website: www.rosiephilpott.co.uk
Local artists hold prestigious Hanbury Hall exhibition in 2019
The annual exhibition at the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall is one of the premier events in the Droitwich Arts Network calendar. This year, the popular event has changed to a ten day-long display in April. Set in the magnificent and historic National Trust property, it attracts a large number of visitors and provides a prestigious backdrop to local talent. The network is therefore delighted to hold an exhibition from 6th – 15th April.
This year it features over 70 works by local artists, spanning across a range of artistic areas including painting, textiles and poetry. The majority of work is for sale, with greetings cards and mounted works also available. The exhibition includes talent from professional artists such as Rosie Philpott, winner of the ‘Wychavon Community Arts Recognition Award’ and Colin Jack who recently exhibited over 90 paintings in The Hive, Worcester.
During the week, members of the Network will steward the event, often painting, spinning, weaving, knitting, embroidering and performing on a variety of musical instruments. Visitors can even have a go at weaving!
Visitors will be asked to vote for their favourite artwork. This year there will be two voting categories – one for adults and a one for children. An award’s ceremony will take place in May.
Chairman of DAN, Helen Karakashian, has been delighted with the success of previous years:
“In excess of 1000 people visited the exhibition last year to view the wonderful variety of work on display. We were all delighted with the amount of interest shown by visitors and the large number of items sold. The annual DAN exhibition has become a firm favourite for the many visitors to the National Trust’s Hanbury Hall.”
Entry to the exhibition is free although visitors who are not National Trust members will have to pay the entrance fee to Hanbury Hall. However, with the beautiful historic building and grounds, why not make a day of it?
Colin Jack’s “Not My Usual Style” exhibition in The Hive, Worcester 2019
Colin Jack has opened his solo exhibition in The Hive in Worcester with a huge selection of his paintings. The exhibition is in the main exhibition hall (atrium) and it will be open until 25th February. It comprises about 90 paintings of various themes and styles that can be placed in 5 groups: Worcester, seascapes, Japanese style, still life, flowers/other.
Colin says about his exhibition: “These are painted mostly in oils [the Japanese style are acrylic] on canvas in different styles, the title is a hint that I have no wish to have a ‘usual style’!”
Colin Jack is exhibiting widely and holds demonstrations and workshops. His paintings have been bought from all over the world as well as in the UK, including 2 belonging to Michael Steele of The Bangles. Such a huge and important exhibition requires a high level of logistic skill, and the photos bellow are showing how Colin is certainly well organised.
Local artists kick off 2019 with a Group Exhibition
Droitwich Arts Network is kicking off 2019 with a group exhibition at Park’s Café in Droitwich Spa, running until 22nd January. The display includes works by 14 artists. Many of the exhibits were winners of the public vote in the network’s annual exhibition at Hanbury Hall in 2018.
Rosie Philpott, artist and secretary of DAN is thrilled to have organised the display. “There’s a great variety of styles within the network and it’s lovely to see them alongside each other. It should spark a lot of conversation and it’s great to give the public another chance to see their favourites”.
A different DAN artist exhibits every month at Park’s Café. It is such a popular venue that it is already fully booked for 2019! Owner, Paul Richardson says “Myself and my customers always look forward to the DAN group exhibitions and over the last 7 years of them being held at Parks, they have never disappointed”.
‘Behind the Scenes’ tour at Norbury Theatre 2018
On Tuesday 11th September 2018 our DAN Meeting took the form of a ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’ of the Norbury Theatre. Around 20 of our members attended and what a fantastic evening it was!
After a short introduction with a brief history of the building itself, we were divided into three groups and each took a different route around the theatre, getting to see all areas of the building and sometimes looking in on rehearsals. The tour took us to the basement, a room filled to the brim with all sorts of props for every occasion! We also looked at the costume department, rooms upon rooms full of every conceivable item – there was even a whole room dedicated just to hats! We could have spent hours looking through all the scenery, clothes, furniture and other props.
We had a small tour of the studio at the back of the theatre, housing the lighting and sound systems. Having recently been updated, this is now a much more modern system with lots of gadgets to make all sorts of effects with the press of a button.
It is surprising how many rehearsal spaces the theatre has and some of us were even lucky enough to sit and watch the Children’s Theatre rehearsing for the weekend. It may have been for children but we all still found it rather amusing!
After we had all finished the tour we gathered together for tea, coffee and biscuits. What struck most of us was the liveliness of the theatre. In particular, it was lovely to see the vast amount of children and teenagers taking part in the Youth Theatre and hearing their enthusiasm as we made our way round. They travel from all over and it is clear to see why.
We would like to thank Anne Lane and her group of volunteers for their time and putting on a thoroughly interesting tour. What a fantastic job they do!
Hands-on spinning and weaving demonstration 2018
The first in a line of new-style DAN meetings has been organised on Monday, 14th May 2018 at Spectrum Days, Old Coach Road in Droitwich Spa. DAN chair Helen Karakashian has opened the evening with a welcome speech about ongoing DAN events and preparations for the ArtsFest, before a creative ladies from Worcestershire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers gave a brief introduction to weaving and spinning craft and The Guild activities and aims, and invite DAN members and their guests to try themselves in a field of weaving and spinning.
In a relaxed atmosphere, with tea, coffee and home-made cakes served, the speakers gave us a lot of information on designs, materials, and endless creative potential of woven textiles.
Spectrum Days space will be the place for DAN meeting on 11th July, ‘Adult Mime and Improvisation Workshop’ – building confidence through drama with Emily Hastings (part of ArtsFest programme) – £5 for members, £10 for guests. the event is a part of ArtsFest programme.
Local artists celebrate successful fundraising M&Co Fashion Show 2018
DAN is always looking to raise funds to continue their artistic activities with the public and to engage more people in the arts. Wednesday 14th March 2018 was no exception, as, with the help of M&Co staff and friends, they held a fashion show. Over 80 guests attended to support the models, take part in the raffle and above all, shop!
Helen Karakashian, Chair of Droitwich Arts Network, said: “It was an excellent night with great community spirit. I would certainly like thank the local businesses such as Park’s Café, Café Morso, Muffin Break and the Community Centre who came to our aid with their chairs”.
Rosie, artist and model, said: “It was nerve-racking at first but we soon entered into the spirit of the evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t think I will give up my day job just yet though!”
Vice Chair of DAN, Malcolm Wakeman, added: “With the help of M&Co and our own Helen, we took to the catwalk with some slightly eccentric models. What they lacked in expertise they made up for in enthusiasm and entertainment value. A fun time was had by all but we don’t expect to make the front cover of Vogue magazine!”
Salt King 200 – Picnic for all to celebrate Salt King 200th anniversary 2017
It was more than a picnic. It was the celebration of the town by its own people. More than 2000 people attended the free community picnic at the Chateau Impney on Sunday, 25th June 2017 to celebrate the 200th birthday of John Corbett. The event was organised by local historian Barbara Middlemass, who has a special interest in Corbett’s life and work.
A picnic hamper shaped birthday cake was cut by Mrs Middlemass, Stuart Denlegh-Maxwell, a descendant of John Corbett, David Goode from the Norbury Theatre, who was dressed as Corbett, and Peter Rosser from the Chateau Impney.
Many local community groups have their stalls with the information and activities. There was also live music and dance (Voices Unlimited choir, the Droitwich Ukulele Band and the Stage Door Dance Academy), poetry, children’s activities and light refreshments.
With the fantastic turnover, the highlight of the day was the community spirit that brings people of Droitwich together to enjoy a day with their families and friends in the surroundings of Chateau Impney, one of the landmarks of the town.
Murals in Netherwich Basin
For a number of years Droitwich Arts Network managed the creation and installation of a mural at Netherwich Basin. This is a summary of two projects.
Mural 2016 – “Dream Catcher”
Droitwich Arts Network and students in year 7 at Westacre Middle School, teamed up in design and production of the Mural 2016. A group of young students and their teacher Jo Riddleston engaged very hard and created a design named ‘Dream Catcher’. The illustration of Edward Winslow’s, a famous Droitwich son, was the journey to America onboard the ‘Mayflower’ in 1620, and his relationship with Massasoit, chief of the Native American tribe.
By the end of February all preliminary design preparations were completed. At the DAN meeting on 2nd March, students and their teacher presented the final design and gave us an insight of how their ideas developed. The design starts with the Droitwich coat of arms and St Peter’s church. There is also a portrait of Edward Winslow and the ‘Mayflower’ ship. After that, we move in the New World with the portrait of Massasoit with the distinguished feathered headdress. The images of a totem pole and a dream catcher, both symbols of Native American culture, are on the far end of the mural design.
The next stage was preparing mural panels and transferring the design to the actual size – 14ft by 40ft. Painting the mural is traditionally a public event. It was organised this year in The Meetbox and outside on St. Andrew’s Square, right next to the Edward Winslow’s sculpture. 21 panels were painted in the record time, thanks to joint forces of DAN members, students from Westacre Middle School and Droitwich Spa residents. The atmosphere was great and we owe a special thanks to ‘The Fidgets’, a guitar duo, who played a fantastic music throughout the day.
The installation of the mural is always a challenging adventure. This year the weather was fine and an experienced team finished the job in only 2 hours and 20 minutes. It won’t be possible to do it without the kind permission of The Malvern Tyres to use their backyard and Alan Davey and his canal boat.
The official inauguration of the mural took place on 30th April, on a first day of St. Richard’s Boat and Car Festival. Cllr Graham Beale, the Mayor of Droitwich Spa, unveil the information board that holds story behind this year’s mural. Students of the Westacre Middle School and their teacher, Droitwich Arts Network representatives and visitors of the festival attended the inauguration. Children have done a great job in last few months since the beginning of the project and made an additional effort to create huge totem poles that have been a part of the inauguration.
The mural will be on display in Netherwich Canal until the end of September 2016.
The mural inauguration on the first day of St Richard’s Festival. Cllr. Graham Beale was accompanied by Justine Humphries, who was representing DAN and a group of Westacre Middle School students.
Droitwich 2015 Mural design – the Droitwich Charter anniversary
At the Droitwich Arts Network meeting of 9th February, students from Witton Middle school, supported by their teacher Louise Jones, unveiled the design for the Droitwich 2015 Mural.
The design is the first activity that announces the 800th anniversary of the Droitwich Charter. The children did a fantastic job, describing the context of the charter and what it meant for the town. They then explained what each panel in the mural represents. They were enthusiastic and conveyed their ideas clearly and confidently. They plan to work with DAN members to complete the mural.
The mural would not be possible without the support of sponsors, including local estate agent Matt Nicol and Malvern Tyres.
The next stage was to transfer the design on the actual size panels, which was done in record time by few DAN members. The final painting of the design was a community matter. On the 28th March the marquee was set up in the St Andrew’s Square and the public was invited to take a part in painting. Despite some serious downpours and wind gusts, Droitwich residents of all ages carried out the painting of 21 panels.
he finished piece was put up at Netherwich Canal Basin, behind Malvern Tyres, and will be visible from Vines Park until October. The mural was unveiled on on 2nd May, during St Richards car and boat festival, by Councillor Bob Brookes, Mayor of Droitwich Spa. Cash raised on the day is going to St Richard’s Hospice.