The latest updates from Headway Arts in Blyth.
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Summer Time at Headway Arts

May and June have been very exciting months for us at Headway Arts.

  • 19th May: Fran, Andy and Allie had a trip to Liverpool as part of Creative Minds North Tour.

  • 1st June: We have welcomed our new Arts Marketing Intern Laura who will be with us until October.

  • 8th- 12th June: Week of Scratch performances. The performances allowed us an insight into what the stars from Satellites had been up to with our associate artists Alys, Jeremy and Ian.

  • 9th June: Our fantastic Big Lunch Event.

  • 16th June: We made our own model Tall Ships with local primary school children.

  • 27th June: Performance of ‘Comet Tales’ starring Tim, Paula, David and Andy at Together North East Festival in South Shields.

  • 30th June: Our new Creative Apprentice Jay started. Jay will be working closely with the stars running warm ups and workshops, and will also be our sound and lighting technician.

Read on for more info about these days and for our upcoming projects: Into the Unknown. Into the Unknown is our annual Summer School for people with learning disabilities aged 19 -25 running 20th – 23rd and 27th – 30th July. 

Creative Minds North
On Tuesday 19th May Andy, Allie and Fran went on an exciting trip to Liverpool to the first Creative Minds North Steering Group meeting at The Bluecoat Arts Centre. Creative Minds is a project developed by Carousel that aims to challenge pre-conceptions and talk about the quality of learning disability art, performance and film. It is led by learning disabled artists and performers and is all about seeing, talking and questioning.

Creative Minds are a group of learning disabled people who want to change the way art created by learning disabled people is seen as educational, therapeutic or outreach work. We want to work with Creative Minds because we think it is important that learning disabled art can be recognised as professional and high quality. 

The overall aim of the meeting was to discuss developing the first Creative Minds Conference for the North of England which is set to take place in 2016. First up on the agenda was to elect a steering committee for the conference. We are happy to announce that Andy is representing Northumberland. Well done Andy! Then we looked at the roles and responsibilities of the Steering Group and how exactly we would like it to run. We ended the meeting with a discussion on quality and what we think that means.

 We got to meet lots of new companies from all over the North and talked to them about their work. It was good to see so many different art forms represented. We also got to meet artists from the Blue Room, a learning disability art group based at the Bluecoat Centre. They showed us how they are working on producing 1920’s based wallpaper to accompany a new exhibition that will take place there, and in return Andy explained all about the work at Headway Arts. It was a very tiring couple of days but we packed lots in! We visited the Tate gallery at Albert Docks, saw the ‘Dazzle Ship’ and some of the mini superlambananas, and visited the fantastic Open Eye Gallery which had some really thought provoking exhibitions.

We rounded the trip off with a visit to the Cavern Club – home of the Beatles. Andy was pretty unimpressed but thought his dad might like it!

It was a great trip for meeting new people, discussing important topics and getting some exciting ideas for new work at Headway Arts. We’d like to thank Bait for supporting our trip. 
Check out our trip to Liverpool for Creative Minds North!
Feeding Community Spirit at Headway ArtSpace
          On Tuesday 9th June, our friends from the local community joined us for our ‘Big Lunch’ event. The Big Lunch is a national project that aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in the week first of June. We thought hosting a Big Lunch would be a fantastic opportunity to network, showcase the wonderful work we do and have a bite to eat all at the same time. We also couldn’t resist an opportunity to decorate and brighten up our workspace with homemade bunting and a selection of pictures from the past. 
After a busy morning setting up, a whole host of special visitors grace our doors.

Guests included Blyth Mayor Olga Potts whom we’d like to thank for her kind support - it is much appreciated. Rob Judge, Community Champion from Blyth Morrisons, came to meet us and generously donated food vouchers for the occasion. We took this great opportunity to discuss our project to renovate and revitalise our Headway ArtSpace which (for any of you who didn’t know) is the Old United Reform church on Waterloo Road. We also discussed some exciting ideas for future Headway Arts projects working in partnership with Morrisons. 

Joanne Money from Newcastle Disability Forum joined us to discuss a start-up photography project which looks at ‘older’ disabled women in the region. We felt that this would be a really exciting collaboration opportunity for us at Headway. (Do let us know if you know anyone who would be interested in this!)

Our amazing associate Dance artist Alys also joined us for the afternoon. Alys works with us on our Satellites: New Worlds project which is supported by the Arts Council England. You can find more about Satellites here.

And finally, what lunch would have been right without some sweet treats donated by Les Belles and homemade themed cupcakes made by Chloe Brown. All of which were absolutely delicious! It has to be said, however, that the fantastic Dyscovered/Splinter Group and their mouth-watering waffles nearly stole the show!

We would also like to say a massive thank you to everyone who came, especially Gail, our business in the community connector, who was central to this events success. We would also like to thank our fantastic stars, our friends, and family who brought delicious food for all to share.
It was truly a great afternoon with lovely food (especially Fran’s curry!) and brilliant company. We hope the rest of you can make it next time!

Check out our fab video and selection of pictures from the day by visiting our YouTube channel: Headway Arts. Alternatively you can visit for more information and our latest events. 
Check out our video from the Big Lunch!
Children’s Art Week: As Tall as a Ship
On Tuesday 16th June at Headway ArtSpace, we welcomed a year four class from Morpeth Road Primary Academy to As Tall as a Ship.

As Tall as a Ship is an arts based workshop that we have created to celebrate Children’s Art Week. The week seeks to give thousands of children and young people the opportunity to experience the visual arts together with their parents, teachers and carers, and get involved with a broad range of practical art activities.

With the return of the Tall Ships to Blyth, we couldn’t think of anything more exciting than to make our own tall ships from recycled materials and exhibit them. Materials included cardboard cereal boxes, old curtains/soft materials, sticks, bottle tops, left over crepe paper, and a LOT of glue.

Our Creative Director Allie, led the session with teachers and helpers all joining in the competition to make the best boat. Two art undergraduates from Edinburgh University, Rachel and Anouska, were also on hand to help and offer their creative input to the students.

Allie began by explaining the design and asked the children to cut the cardboard box in half. Part of the short sides were then cut off and then re-joined to make a pointed/arrow shaped nose. The whole structure was then covered in paper and glue so that all of the original cereal box design was hidden. This was quite a messy task!

Next Allie showed the children how to make the masts which hold up the sails. The base of the mast was then stuck into place with selotape and the sticks were placed into their slots. Another piece of cardboard was then place onto the sticks to hold them firmly in place.

The children then were asked to cut out a triangular, ‘sail’ shape from the soft materials and hang them to the masts using string. Then they decorated their ships. Some opted for shiny purple ribbon and orange crepe paper, others for bottle tops that gave it a more nautical feel.

To make the event extra special, we also invited Clive Gray, Chief Executive of Blyth Tall Ships, to take a look at our sculptures. We think it is fair to say that he was blown away by the designs. We very much look forward to working with Clive again in the future.

While we certainly had a lovely afternoon, the children did too with a young girl Sophie announcing it was ‘the best day of her life so far.’ It was brilliant to see young people so inspired by their town’s maritime heritage.

If you too feel inspired, come on down and have a look at our Tall Ships at Headway ArtSpace. If you have somewhere you would like to exhibit the ships, please contact Alison Walton Robson on 01670 351962.
Comet Tales at Together North East Festival
On Saturday 27th June, the Satellites/Seven Stars performed at Together North East Festival created by Inclusion North. Together North East Festival is the first large scale festival in the region which is devised and coordinated by people with learning disabilities. The festival seeks to showcase the achievements of people with learning disabilities, including regional theatre groups, musicians and social enterprises. This year all of the exciting action took place at the Customs House in South Shields.

Paula, David, Tim and Andy were all keen to represent Headway Arts at the festival. Written by the Satellites (in just a week of workshops with our Creative Director Allie!), ‘Comet Tales’ is a story set in a galaxy far, far away powered only by the starlight of their dreams. Combining Sci-Fi with truth, Captain Moral (Tim) is on a mission to discover a beautiful space “just past the seventh star” when his spaceship is badly damaged in a moonrock asteroid storm.

It is a story of true companionship and the struggle of the ‘moth folk tribe’. Captain Moral’s opening speech sums up the premise perfectly:
‘…beyond the universe we know, to the universe we’re yet to explore, beyond even the reach of the Tardis, in our search for the place where you can be who you are and get back to tell the tale…’
Fortunately for all of you out there, a little bird tells me that Act II of ‘Comet Tales’ may be in the pipeline very soon! So if you’re sad to have missed it or you want to know what happens to the moth people and the crew of the United Seven Stars - keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter and we’ll let you know!

While we loved performing at Together North East, it was also great to see the excellent Bell and Bullock who have been our associate artists on our New Worlds Project. It was also fab to see our good friends Liberdade and the Fools’ Ensemble. We would finally like to say a huge thank you to all of those at the customs house who made us feel so welcome and at ease. They made our show look and sound amazing. We couldn’t have pictured it any better. 

Check out our pictures and video below for a taste of what the day had to offer and our high quality productions at Headway Arts.  
Check out our YouTube channel for the performance of Comet Tales!
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