Arts, Crafts and Living Paintings

Hello, everyone! Following on from my previous post about my interest in art, I thought I would share with you my experience as a part of the Arts & Crafts group at the Henshaws centre in Manchester.

I’ve been a member of the Arts & Crafts group since September 2013.

It is run by Pat Monaghan every Friday afternoon from 1pm to 3pm. There is always something different to get stuck into every week, and we have touched on a variety of different craft techniques – such as card making, flower arranging, collage, painting, pin flair, making wreaths for Christmas, lantern designing, parchment technique and sand art.

Kim at the arts and crafts group

The picture to the right shows some of my recent makes, which includes an owl fridge magnet, birthday cards for my mum, a kimono girl bookmark and a water lily decoration.

As well as the chance to get creative, the Arts & Crafts group is also fantastic for the social aspect and we have occasional outings and meals. The group currently consists of 14 people of various ages and sight conditions. They are all extremely friendly and we have a wonderful time talking about a whole host of different things, having a brew and a biscuit, and letting our creative juices flow!

In one of our recent sessions, Pat introduced us to Living Paintings – a ‘charity that publishes Touch to See books that bring the visual world to life for blind and partially sighted people’ – the only one of its kind. They produce a large range of titles that cater to all age ranges and a variety of interests including animals, flowers, historical objects and artefacts, and assorted famous works from museums across Britain. They supply content including audio CDs, Braille stories and embossed sheets of plastic imprinted with items from your chosen subject, allowing for a three-dimensional tactile event.

In the session with the Arts & Crafts group, an audio track was played illustrating a summer’s day by the side of a riverbank. Living Paintings were passed around the group, and from the embossed plastic we were able to feel various flowers that can be found alongside riverbanks in the British summer and appreciate the difference in the shapes and sizes of their petals and leaves. The audio CD really painted the scene with vibrant sounds of insects and birds, flowing water, and with narration and poetry excerpts. It’s something I’ve never had the chance to experience before. It added a new dimension to appreciating art and was something the whole group enjoyed thoroughly – with the majority wanting to find out more about Living Paintings and how to subscribe to the service!

You can read more about Living Paintings and how to become a library member by visiting their website here and if you want to find out more about what groups Henshaws offers, visit the Friendship Matters pages of the website.

Kimberley Burrows
Kimberley Burrows
Kimberley is a Henshaws volunteer and service user of over two years. She is Co-Chair to the RNIB young person's campaigning network, Envision, a blogger, columnist, artist and an illustrator; previously the RNIB's Young Illustrator for 2014.
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