Inclusive Artmaker Festival in Knaresborough returns for 2023

Following the success of the 2022 .artmaker symposium and festival Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre in Knaresborough is busy preparing for .artmaker 23 in July.

The event runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July. It will begin with the symposium on Friday and a series of talks from guest artists and facilitators in the field of Inclusive Arts. The festival on Saturday offers visitors a chance to view the exhibition and participatory installation ‘In my Shoes’, listen to music from the Henshaws Hotspots and DJ Rory Hoy and to partake in art maker led workshops. We will be open on Sunday offering a quieter viewing experience.

Event organisers Sharon Hockin and Shaeron Caton Rose said: “Our exciting and varied programme for the symposium offers the opportunity to hear from those organisations and artists who are successfully delivering inclusive arts programs and challenging our perceptions of neurodiversity and disability. We have a fabulous festival line up this year.”

The symposium speakers are:

  • Sonia Moran – Arts Engagement Officer at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Leeds. Sunny Bank Mills is a cultural destination with a contemporary gallery, growing studio artist community, creative courses and events. Sonia is passionate about community engagement and is currently developing Sunny Bank Mills programme.
  • Ian Read – CEO Rural Arts Thirsk, a registered charity that delivers inspiring and inclusive creative opportunities that enrich lives and connect communities. Working across 3,500 square miles of England’s largest county, Rural Arts vision is creativity in every community in North Yorkshire.
  • Becky Waite – Blue Room Creative Manager based at the Bluecoat Liverpool. Blue Room is an inclusive arts program for adults with learning disabilities that supports participants exploration of contemporary art and culture using art as a tool for expression and building self-esteem and improving well-being.
  • Daniel Swift – Artistic Director Concrete Youth Hull. Concrete Youth is Hull based theatre company dedicated to creating exciting multi-sensory theatre for audiences living with profound multiple learning disabilities. Daniel is a creative producer, inclusive theatre practitioner and is currently researching for his PhD in narrative accessibility for theatre audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties.
  • Vickie Orton – Textile Artist. Making tactile art is important to Vickie as she is passionate about making art accessible for all. Vickie is inspired by the natural landscape and her experiences as a wheelchair user and she creates work that challenges assumptions about disability. She has exhibited around the UK and had work included in the Disabled People Against Cuts pop up demonstration at the Tate Modern.
  • Zoe Phillips – Henshaws Workshop Leader – Custom maker and designer specialising in leatherwork, theatrical armoury, props and educational workshops, with a history of working in the performing arts industry. At present Zoe is working with the Royal Opera House and Birmingham Royal Ballet. As a workshop leader at Henshaws Zoe delivers inspiring inclusive arts programmes working with individuals with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and tirelessly works to promote inclusion, acceptance and diversity.
  • JoAnne Haines – Artist, performer and facilitator. JoAnne will be talking about her work and recent project ‘Dancing with Colours’ her first independent performance piece. She works with Mind the Gap, a performance and arts company that is, and has been committed to pushing boundaries, challenging stereotypes and empowering individuals with learning disabilities and autism in the world of performing arts for over 30 years.

The festival Saturday sees the .artmaker exhibition and the ‘In my shoes’ installation at the Centre, featuring work from its art makers and from local organisations, including St Joseph’s Primary School in Wetherby, Rosset Acre and Oatlands Junior school in Harrogate and The Gift People and The Orb in Knaresborough. Individuals, groups and organisations have been invited to see things from a different perspective exploring the themes of disability, inclusion and diversity. We have asked what life is like in your shoes or someone else’s shoes, particularly those who may lead a different life to yours?

Artist Eva Mileusnic whose work explores migration and identity will be including work from her Critical Mass installation and from her workshops with the art makers here at the centre. Foot lasts made from plaster of Paris will form part of a trail around the centre gardens alongside the mosaic and ceramic footprints made by the artmakers at the centre. Ballet shoes kindly donated from the Royal Ballet will also be part of the installation. We are also working with Background Bob whose background paintings exploded on Instagram during COVID lockdown as he collaborated with artists and produced 2 books that raised thousands for Charity. He has provided his fabulous backgrounds for our art makers to work on – we cannot wait to see the results!
The artmakers will be running a series of workshops on the day offering the public the opportunity to, paint, paper make, lino print and to explore the hidden treasures of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a production devised by the art makers at the centre!

Kerry Butler, a cherished performer at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre for several years has collaborated with numerous theatre companies, including the acclaimed Moondust Theatre, where she crafted a side-splitting two-hour comedy show alongside a team of professional actors. With her unique blend of humour, insight, and creativity, Kerry will open your eyes to the fun and fantastical aspects of Shakespeare’s work. ‘I am so excited to be delivering this workshop at the festival and I can’t wait to take everyone through the highs and lows of this production. I will have so much fun – you will have so much fun! I love performing arts and working here at the centre with Douglas and the other art makers makes me truly happy, I love it, it’s the greatest feeling of my life to be honest. Performing Arts helps me get to know other people and come out of my own shell and comfort zone and bring more of myself into workshops rather than keeping it all inside.’

Workshop places for the Saturday are limited, booking is essential.

There will be music from DJ Rory Hoy and the Henshaws Hot Spots will close the festival.

Sign up now to take part in the ‘In my Shoes’ installation. Come along and find out what Inclusive Arts has to offer you.

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