Our Work of Art – Rural Outreach Underway


Creative Volunteers connecting with Canterbury’s villages

The ‘Our Work of Art’ project volunteers have just started their ‘tea and creativity’ sessions for the over 50’s.  The 29th May saw the start of a ceramic mug-painting morning session at Barham Village Hall.

This volunteer ‘arts and wellbeing’ supported work aptly marks the start of National Volunteers Week (1-7 June); a campaign designed to showcase and celebrate the marvellous and beneficial work that volunteers do all year round.

Dr Neil Brown, Chief Officer, Age UK Canterbury, championing the project partnership with Age UK Herne Bay & Whitstable said:

“We are delighted to be working again with Espression Arts CIC and Ken Arts & Wellbeing with the fantastic team of creative volunteers. Last year they dedicated 1,700 hours and 218 people were involved. 70 creative workshops resulted in 8 stunning murals made up of individually hand-painted tiles by members at our day centres and the dementia support (COGS) groups. The murals will soon be put on permanent display in our centres”

Feedback from two people who took part in their 60’s said: “Haven’t done this kind of thing since my children were small, but then it was about them. This was just about me”. “Really enjoyed today, great support, met new people, really good experience.”

This Our Work of Art Rural Outreach 2019 will run through the summer. 18, free two-hourly, sessions are being offered out in rural areas in the Canterbury district. Next up are village hall sessions in Bridge and Patrixbourne, Chestfield, Harbledown and Chartham.

A Barham Village Hall representative added: “We are very excited and can’t wait for the next one…”   The follow up session at Barham will be on 17 June when Catherine Arnell, Espression Arts CIC, leading the sessions, will return the participants’ fired and beautifully glazed mugs painted, and with the volunteers help, will support people in mosaic-making.

This project is funded by Canterbury City Council’s Strategic Grant Award and Big Lottery Awards for All. It is the first phase of a year-long project to engage older people in doing something fun, friendly and creative that helps to overcome isolation and loneliness that many older and vulnerable people experience.  Developing the creative talents of the project’s committed volunteers (‘active ageing, 50 plus) will continue. The volunteers will help recruit new volunteers for the training in October. This will grow the creative volunteer team who will lead more creative sessions into 2020 at the Age UK centres and groups.

For more details and booking contact
Fay Blair fay@kentartsandwellbeing.org.uk Mobile: 07786 307 664 or
Catherine Arnell catherine@espression.co.uk  Espression Arts, 29-30 Palace Street, Canterbury CT1 2DZ 01227 765665.


Guiding the volunteers is Canterbury based creative Catherine Arnell, from Espression Arts, pottery studio café/shop in Palace street was led the previous year’s project Our Work of Art with Kent Arts and Wellbeing who recruited and trained 41 volunteers who then went on to help in regular ceramic paintint sessions at Age UK Canterbury and Age UK Herne Bay and Whitstable

People (aged 50 plus) will be invited to ‘have a go’ at mug painting and other creative activities. They will benefit from the friendly and talented 2018 volunteer team and some may decide to become a creative volunteer too, supporting further sessions the Age UK centres, later into 2020.

Call Fay Blair, Kent Arts & Wellbeing, on 07786 307 664 for more details or call or visit Catherine Arnell at her Espression Arts studio/café, 29-30 Palace Street, Canterbury for an informal chat or see online at  www.kentartsandwellbeing.org.uk/news/

‘Our Work of Art Rural Outreach builds on work run last year:

Helping Older People Engage through Art’  #OurWorkOfArt2018 was a partnership led by Age UK Canterbury with Age UK Herne Bay & Whitstable, with Espression Arts CIC, Catherine Arnell and another newly formed social enterprise, Kent Arts & Wellbeing (the team who were involved in LAPWING – Fay Blair, Gerry Atkinson and Ken Scott).

The project culminated with ‘Our Work of Art – With These Hands’ 2018 project exhibition 18-31st March 2019  Mounted by Catherine Arnell, Espression Arts CIC and Gerry Atkinson, Whitstable-based photographer, from Kent Arts and Wellbeing, the exhibition portrayed a moving story.   A story of how 41 (mainly) local women over the age of 50, signed up for the bespoke project’s creative training and then supported 174  frailer, vulnerable older people at the Age UK Centres and other community centres, in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay

A project photobook  was co-produced with the project volunteers and given to them and the participants as a wonderful record and memento of their project experience. This work was led by Gerry Atkinson.

The volunteer training programme in ‘arts and wellbeing’ is about how to engage with older people, sometimes who have complex needs, such as those with mild dementia, anxiety or depression, or other vulnerable groups such as those with low self-esteem or who feel lonely and are perhaps a bit isolated.  The volunteers then support creative sessions, led by a professional team, working with people, in enjoyable and rewarding arts activities.

Espression Arts CIC www.espression.co.uk Catherine Arnell has a studio shop (29-30 Palace Street) ‘Espression Arts’ Interactive Art Café and is passionate about the arts and wellbeing. Following her project involvement in the *‘LAPWING’ with Age UK Canterbury 2016-17, she has come up with more inspiring ways to involve older people. Using her pottery craft she and her team will prepared volunteers ready for them to work in a series of clay painting, to decorate mugs and tiles working with older people that will form a series of vibrant wonderful murals.  Catherine was one of the eight talented artists from LAPWING (Live Art Practice Wellbeing Inspired Network Group’) supported by Arts Council and other funders to produce the mural work at Barton Court,  and then later commissioned by Age UK Sheppey (Sheerness) and led other creative workshops for Age UK Canterbury. Catherine Arnell Tel: 01227 765665 catherine@espression.co.uk

Age UK Canterbury   Registered Charity Number 1094385 Chief Officer:  neil@ageukcanterbury.org.uk  Tel: 01227 462368

Age UK Herne Bay & Whitstable Registered Charity No: 1047605  Chief Officer: sue.cliffe@ageukhernebay.org.uk  Tel: 01227 749 570

Both independent Age UK charities, Canterbury and Herne Bay & Whitstable are keen to have visitors, arts & health practitioners and volunteer organisations to help engage and support older people at their Day Centres, and their Dementia outreach service.

Canterbury City Council  “The RISE (Resilient, Informed, Sustainable and Engaged) development programme has been created to support our current and potential partners to deliver high quality services for local people.”


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