Inspiring ‘Still Lively’ change stories

We have learnt of many inspiring change stories from people involved in the Still Lively project:

“I think the atmosphere the artists create in the workshop is the important thing. Looking around the room I see people who genuinely struggle to concentrate and engage in any other activity, real restless souls. Yet they’re here joining in and looking completely comfortable. Indeed, there are people around this table who don’t tend to get involved in anything else at all, and it’s a wonderful sight to see.”

‘Sampling Sessions’ – Carolyn Morton at Choices Housing, Limewood

The ‘Sampling Sessions’ residency was 6 months of weekly visits by artist Carolyn Morton. She worked with Limewoods’ residents making images and conversation. Using a wide range of materials and processes helped her to respond to individuals’ interests and engage them in making. Sometimes they made together. Sometimes examples or demonstrations guided what they did. Sometimes how and what residents made showed Carolyn a new way of making.

The one constant was being absorbed in making something meaningful and each others’ company.

The residency was part of ‘Still Lively’ a programme to support and value older peoples’ creativity. It was funded by Choices Housing Association. Around the table someone is humming ‘Abide with Me’. As the tune repeats I join in, watching the resident who’s hunched over the table, absorbed in drawing a delicate frill of brown lines inside the edge of an outlined feather.

“I don’t like that bit” she says to herself, looking at a smudge. I offer to erase it and hold the drawing up for us to see.
“Oh that’s lovely. Who did that?”
“You did”
“Did I? It’s lovely”

Unrolling last weeks painting I suggest adding another layer. Selecting one of his colouring books the resident I’m working with turns the pages stopping at a pattern of alliums. “These.” We talk about composition, how the colours and shapes lead our eyes across the paper. He decides on a cluster of alliums in the lower corner, carefully mixing blue and red to the same shade of burgundy as his original colouring.

I sit beside a resident who apologises for not being able to do anything this week as he’s not feeling well. Reassuring him that it’s fine to just chat I begin to draw around a roll of tape. With encouragement and reassurance he joins in, anxiety fading as he concentrates on the task in hand.

“I’m sorry they’re not very good”
“They look good to me. You’re doing your best and that’s all any of us can do”

Last week we made a piece of felt. This week we appliqué felt shapes. I show the resident I’m working with some paper butterflies and she begins to copy them, adding flowers and a house. Her stitching is neat, competent and quick.

“Whose lives there?”
“Henry. It’s Henry’s garden”. With pink felt and a few swift lines Henry’s face is added.

Carolyn worked with: Miriam, Doreen, Maureen, Baz, Ron, Reg, Rita, Cynthia, Derek, Tony, Gladys, Anna, Colin,William, Margaret.

WAG workshop- Melanie Thomlinson

We were very lucky to have a workshop with Melanie Thomlinson. The group made some fabulous work:

Melanie trained in illustration at Birmingham School of Art. She works from her studio at home in Birmingham and also as an artist leading participatory projects. She has won several awards for her work and her sculptures can be found in collections in this country and abroad.

Read more about Melanie Thomlinson on her website.

Still Lively sessions – Shire Living – Choices Housing

Here are a few photos from the latest Still Lively sessions at Shire Living, Choices Housing.

This particular exercise/art game is inspired by the work of Sarah Taylor Silverwood Sarah is a visual artist with a practice rooted in drawing and language, used as material to produce publications, animations and installation works.

A tenant at Maywood collects traced images to compose his own artwork:


A couple from Chasewood collect traced archaeological images to create their artworks:


Novice artists at Chasewood use traced images as an aid to composition – and confidence!