Street signs, silhouettes of tower blocks, ornate church windows, paving stones, railings and even pub signs have all inspired a West Gorton art group to produce striking silk screen prints depicting their local area.
The Young at Heart Group – set up more than two years ago and ‘adopted’ by Keele University’s CALL-ME research programme – flung open the doors of their community rooms on Gortonvilla Walk this week to show off their creativity.
Each member displayed a finished print mounted and framed on the walls with other limited editions on sale to raise funds for future projects.
The silk screening techniques were taught by artist Ian McKay and his son Andrew as part of the M12-11 arts project, set up in 2005 of offer creative opportunities to east Manchester groups and residents.
“I’ve enjoyed every part of this project,” says Matty Wade, who accompanies his partially-sighted grandmother to the group and whose design features on the group’s T-shirts. “We all took a vote on which image should go on the shirts and the group chose mine. That made me very happy.”
Eighty-five year-old Maggie Wade was, at first, reluctant to join in the group’s activities: “When they came to ask me if I’d like to join I told them I could only see light and shape and I’d never to able to manage. We started with pottery and I thought I’d never to able to do it but, with the help of these people, I’ve managed. I felt as if I was past it at my age, so it just goes to show.
“They’re starting keep fit classes on Wednesday so I’ll come down to that too!”
“Some older people hardly go out at all,” says club secretary, Audrey Hurley. “So this group has given them a chance to have a cuppa and a chat as well as make some fantastic art. We all enjoy the laughs when we get together.”
“CALL-ME is part of a longer research project aimed at improving the quality of life for older people,” explains Keele University’s Professor Michael Murray. “With our partners, we’re providing opportunities for older people in disadvantaged areas of Manchester to socialise. Here the Young at Heart group have produced some amazing artwork but mainly it’s been about people coming together.
Our field worker, Amanda Crummett, has been able to support the group to apply for funding, recruit a community artist and develop this project. We’re really pleased with the results.”