Meet the Art Makers
An Art Maker is a person with disabilities who attends our Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough. But what are the benefits of creating art for people with disabilities? And what practical tips can we take from our workshops to make art accessible to everyone? We meet three of our Art Makers to find out.
Making more than art
This year Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre will celebrate its 21st birthday. Since opening our doors in 1998, we’ve supported hundreds of disabled people to discover their creative talents through a range of workshops from jewellery to sensory arts.
But we make much more than art. Our Art Makers gain confidence, make friends and learn new skills which they can use in their daily lives. We offer a welcoming space for people to learn, laugh and realise their full potential.
Julie, Chris and Andrew are just three of a number of Art Makers currently exhibiting their work at local venues in the community. They have a range of complex needs and disabilities, but being creative in our workshops has given them self-confidence, pride and the passion to do more than they once thought was possible.
Julie has communication difficulties but her pictures express her love of the natural world in a way that words could not. She works in a variety of mediums including drawing, printmaking with linocut and silk-screen, and mosaic. She is particularly keen on animals. Julie’s bold drawing style lends itself well to printing processes which have become a range of striking artworks.
Her Coral Reef linocut using two colours was recently selected for the 30 x 30 Exhibition at Project Ability in Glasgow. Project Ability is a visual arts organisation which works in partnership with people with disabilities all across the UK. They aim to create opportunities for people to network, share their practice and exhibit their work. One of the visitors to the successful exhibition which finished in December 2018 commented: “A great group show. You should all be very proud and your talents are inspiring. Keep going and keep being creative.”
Julie’s cacti mosaics, owl prints and silkscreen designs have proved very popular in our HenshawsGifts online shop.
Chris’s artwork is in high demand. He has produced many commissions and his expressive style is contagious. He approaches each piece with such enthusiasm, he ‘sees’ the hues he uses as temperatures or objects of reference from daily life.
Chris uses a wide spectrum of colours and likes to use different media but especially favours pastel, conte crayon, wax or pencil. Chris takes a lot of pride in his work and he enjoys bringing a smile to the world through his creations.
My cerebral palsy and other disabilities are just a small part of who I am. The process of mark making and creating art really interests me and is something I love to do. ”
Chris, Art Maker
Andrew has been creating artwork at Henshaws for over 20 years. His love of tearing paper has inspired him to produce beautiful collages. He rips paper of different colours and textures into shapes which he then arranges into patterns.
“I lost my sight as a young child but not being able to see hasn’t stopped me getting fully involved in all aspects of life. Working with paper makes me happy. It makes me proud that people are seeing and buying my work to help Henshaws.”
If you are inspired by what you have read then please visit us at the Arts & Crafts Centre where you can meet our Art Makers and see them at work.
Art is for everyone
We believe that disability should not be a barrier to making art. Often all you need is the right support and some simple adaptations. Our experience shows that by experimenting and working together it is possible to find enjoyable and accessible ways for anyone to take part.
Some of our practical tips for accessible art sessions:
- Processes that can be built up slowly often work well. So do repetitive processes such as papier mache, mosaic, collage, drawing with felt tips, oil pastels, threading, cutting, and painting.
- Using stencils or making wire frames onto which people can weave or attach things to means they can use a number of simple actions to build an impressive final result. The design of the base structure can be agreed with the person you are working with and can often come from their original drawings.
- A person with a visual impairment may struggle to see subtle shades of colour, and to distinguish one colour from another. Work with strong shades of black and white, or colours with a tonal range as extreme as black and white (e.g. dark purple and bright yellow) to help overcome this.
- When painting, remember simple things like taping down the paper so that it doesn’t slip. You should also let people know where equipment is placed such as paintbrushes or glue. Don’t forget to make sure they are physically comfortable.
- Make the most of all the senses. You could use tactile materials such as clay and papier mache or create a relaxed atmosphere through music.
- Translating original drawings into other processes such as silkscreen printing or mosaic design allows a person’s individual voice to be respected. This way their creativity can be encapsulated in the final product.
Find out more
For more information please download our e-book: Art Making – the positive impact of creative art projects. It includes tips and ideas from Shaeron Caton-Rose (Artist and Workshop Leader) and Maria Dawbarn (Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre Manager).
We can't do it without you
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.