Art that deserves to be seen – The story behind Henshaws 21 Exhibition

This September we launched our new exhibition, Henshaws 21, at St John’s Church in Knaresborough. It features work by 21 artists from Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in celebration of our 21st birthday. The project brought together Art Makers from many different workshops to paint, draw, sculpt and sew in their own unique styles to produce inspiring and beautiful artwork. In this post we speak to workshop leaders, Art Makers and families to find out how the exhibition came about, what inspires the artists and why their artwork deserves to be seen.

Where did the idea for Henshaws 21 Exhibition come from?

Collage featuring a range of artwork that deserves to be seen for Henshaws 21 Exhibitio including pen and ink drawings, prints, mosaic, sculpture and quilt

Arts & Crafts Centre Manager, Maria Dawbarn came up with the original idea for Henshaws 21 exhibition. Her aim was to find a venue to give the Art Makers’ work an opportunity to shine.

Maria said “Seeing the artwork within workshops at the centre and talking to the Art Makers to understand how and why they create art is amazing. But we wanted to celebrate this beyond our centre to give more people the chance to enjoy it. Seeing the artwork in a different setting is truly inspirational. I love the way the backdrop of the church brings out all the colours and the scale of the work. It shows that this is a group project where individual artists work together and are inspired by each other.”

Art that deserves to be seen

It has taken weeks and months of planning to make this idea a reality, as workshop leader Shaeron Caton-Rose explains.

Shaeron said “When we were planning the exhibition we asked staff at the centre to recommend Art Makers to take part and then we shortlisted it down to just 21. We rediscovered pieces of work that were hidden away in workshops and storerooms. We are very grateful to St John’s for being so supportive in allowing us to exhibit here and to see it all displayed in this beautiful space in this way is fantastic.”

This is the first time we have created an exhibition featuring so many Henshaws artists, so putting all the pieces together was part of the challenge. Workshop leader Sharon Hockin explains:

“We wanted to tell a story taking visitors around the church and to make sure the pieces work really well together. The Art Makers’ work is beautiful and the venue and lighting give it the opportunity to shine. All of our featured artists have a disability but we don’t want their disabilities to be the first thing people think about. They are artists and their work deserves to be seen as pieces of art. I hope that through this exhibition we’ve let the artwork speak for itself and we’d love people to come and enjoy it.”

Organisers Sharon Hockin and Shaeron Caton-Rose stand underneath wire hands installation at Henshaws 21 Exhibition opening night

What inspires the artists?

The 21 Art Makers featured in this exhibition work in a range of media from paper mache to pen and ink. We spoke to Art Makers Jacob and Vicky to find out more about what inspires them and how it feels to be part of an exhibition in the community.


Vicky’s eye-catching abstract wall pieces are featured in the exhibition. Vicky loves to draw and she is interested in shapes, particularly circles and squares. She also enjoys working with paper and has recently started using the quilling technique which involves rolling up lengths of paper tightly around a straw. She slotted circles of paper into a paper mache base which she then painted bright orange.

Due to Vicky’s eye condition Nystagmus, she experiences a constant flickering due to the movement of her eyes but she does not let this get in the way of her creativity.

She explained: “These pieces took me months but I loved creating them. I like finding different ways to work with paper. Quilling is a repetitive process, which I find quite therapeutic. I’ve not made many large pieces so it was a brilliant challenge. I am very proud of what I have achieved.”

Collage of photos with Art Maker Vicky including her paper quilling pieces, drawing out the designs and standing with her artworks


Jacob creates brightly coloured, intricate drawings inspired by geometric shapes. He has a precise style of drawing using colours that form patterns across the surfaces of his work. Jacob loves crisp lines and bright colours. He draws the main shapes first and then brings the whole picture alive with patterns. Jacob works for hours on each drawing, becoming totally absorbed in his artwork.

Jacob’s love of geometric shapes has also influenced his ceramic pieces. He created a large plate decorated with coloured shapes and then scored the surface with a textured pattern. Jacob says “I love the colour red”, which features in the majority of his work. He is particularly proud of his drawing which shows a boat on the river in Knaresborough; “I wanted to draw the water.”

Jacob’s godmother Debbie Riley visited the exhibition on its opening night. She said “I’m delighted to see Jacob’s work here in such a beautiful setting. All artists have their own individual styles and their unique designs really come straight off the walls as you walk around.”

Art Maker Jacob's geometric colourful designs including large scale drawings and ceramics

Visit Henshaws 21 Exhibition

The exhibition is open daily at St John’s Church in Knaresborough until 16th October. Entrance is free and we would love you to come and see this beautiful artwork.

Opening times: 21st September – 16th October 2019
Mondays to Saturdays 10am – 4pm and Sundays 1pm – 4pm

Venue: St John the Baptist Church, Knaresborough, HG5 9AE

For more information including details of all the artists exhibiting please visit our 21 Art Makers page

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Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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Katie is Marketing Manager at Henshaws and responsible for promoting services including College and our Arts & Crafts Centre.