Art and Creativity
As we have expanded the range of services on offer at Mustard Tree over recent years, we have been keen to build an emphasis on creativity; we consider it to be one of the key strands of the work that we deliver. We firmly believe that creativity is a key human trait and that the opportunity to express it can be highly therapeutic and an important element of rebuilding lives. Our Creative Programmes Manager, Graham Hudson, oversees our creative activities.
Each week the creative department runs the following activities:
- Three art classes each week, on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays. There is a very developed community aspect in these classes, where artists discuss life issues in a very relaxed and supportive space. So far more than 400 people have attended Graham’s art classes.
- Weekly craft sessions, including jewellery making, paper craft and mosaic creating. These take place on Wednesday afternoons.
- Weekly knitting and crocheting class each Tuesday. The oldest participant is 83 and the youngest (who attends as part of a family group) is 4 years of age.
- Weekly sewing class on Wednesday afternoons.
- Weekly drama workshops on Wednesdays.
- Film Making. Our resident film maker, Donkey Stone Films has led two projects for Mustard Tree clients: ‘film in a day’ and ‘edit in a day’.
Since the studio first opened, we have also held four exhibitions featuring work generated there. These have involved resident artists, art class students and local school children.
If you are interested in joining an art class or any of our other creative activities, please drop in and speak to Graham, or email him at email@example.com.
Studio Space developments
As part of the development of our creative services, we now have a new space with 5 self-contained mini art studios, giving individual artists the opportunity to have their own studio space while still being part of the Mustard Tree community. Mustard Tree is working in partnership with the Turnkey Trust, part of the Probation Service, which has so far made one of these individual studios available for a client who was recently discharged from prison. We anticipate that this partnership will grow and develop, along with new ones.
So-called because of its exceptional light and dimensions, this is a further space currently being developed to house the programmes and activities described above. Once completed, this will free up the existing space, in which we have plans to develop a fitness suite (with the help of Forest Bank Prison), a dance studio and multi-purpose space.
James Hardy Music Studio
The James Hardy Project is a brand-new music-centred venture here at Mustard Tree. It is currently based in a small room in the art studio, housing excellent quality equipment and sound production facilities. The project comes under the remit of Mustard Tree’s creative arts department, adding yet another provision to the fabulous array of courses and groups already on offer.
The Project is currently running its first music production course for six people, a mixture of Freedom Project volunteers, Mustard Tree staff and outside volunteers with musical talent. The course runs on Monday evenings over ten weeks, teaching technical skills and providing hands-on experience so that each individual can learn to use the equipment. By the end of the course the group aims to have written and produced a new electronic music track, which will be uploaded to iCloud.
The course is run by Geoff McGuire, aka deep house artist Stonedove. Geoff first came to Mustard Tree as part of a group of Barclays employees on one of their Make A Difference Day volunteering teams. While helping to renovate part of the Ancoats building, Geoff chatted to Graham Hudson, heard about the proposed James Hardy Project, and decided to put his talents to good use by becoming more involved.
In future it is envisaged that the studio will move to a bigger home on the ground floor of Mustard Tree. It is anticipated that it will be in daily use and for regular hire by bands and artists wishing to produce tracks or albums. As with all of Mustard Tree’s services, it is hoped that many of those who come to use it will be those from disadvantaged backgrounds who wouldn’t normally be able to access such facilities.
The James Hardy Project takes its name from a young man who was a regular visitor to Mustard Tree – in particular the art studio. James had a deep love of music, and frequently played his guitar in between chatting to the volunteers. However, James struggled with his mental health and with drug addiction, which eventually got the better of him. His father, Tony, tragically found him in his flat, having taken his own life. Tony already knew Graham well and James’ family wanted to use the money donated at his funeral for something that would help people at Mustard Tree. The studio and music project are certainly a fitting way to remember James.
It is hoped that the James Hardy Project will benefit many of Mustard Tree’s service users, helping them to grow in confidence, develop their skills and aspirations, find acceptance in a community of music-lovers and perhaps even discover their “inner song.”
If you would like to join our electronic music production course, please call us on 0161 228 7331 and ask to speak to Graham, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The desire to deliver these programmes whilst also meeting the large increase our crisis prevention services (food bank, clothing and furniture) is a daily economic challenge, which often dictates the speed at which development work is able to happen. Mustard Tree remains committed to providing both a ‘hand-up’ as well as a ‘hand-out’ to the increasing number of clients that come through our doors, and our creative programmes strongly reflect that commitment.