MEMBERS of a craft therapy group who learned a new skill as part of the successful I Am Tamworth project have opened a stunning exhibition of their work which will be on display at Tamworth Library for the next four weeks.
The Tamworth Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre craft group discovered the art of mosaic last year when they were tasked with designing a mosaic of Saxon Queen Aethelfleda as part of Tamworth Borough Council’s 18-month initiative to increase participation in the arts.
Captivated by their newfound passion, members of the group continued to explore and develop the skill and will now be showcasing their work to members of the public for the first time thanks to a £500 Arts Development Grant from Tamworth Borough Council.
Titled ‘Out of the Dark’, the exhibition features pieces by more than 30 of the Stonydelph-based centre’s clients and volunteers and is inspired by Anglo Saxon, Celtic and Viking art. It aims to challenge the concept of the early Middle Ages as a period of intellectual darkness by recognising some of the accomplishments of the era.
Clients at the Tamworth Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre have a range of health-related issues and have found inspiration and therapeutic benefits from their mosaic work.
Craft sessions are led by Tamworth artist Maggie Carney who has been volunteering at the centre for almost three years.
“I am feeling incredibly proud of everybody who has contributed to this exhibition. It’s amazing to see how they have stuck at it to produce some really fantastic work, despite many of them going through treatment or being unwell.
“I opened a thank you card from the group signed ‘Mosaic Craft Artists’ and I realised this was what I had hoped for – that they would think of themselves as artists.
“Had it not been for the I Am Tamworth initiative this may not have happened, so a big thank you to all those involved. This includes the council for implementing it and awarding us the grant, the Arts and Events team for supporting us all the way through and the library team who helped us to stage the exhibition.”
A special event was held to mark the opening of the exhibition with artists, their friends, families and supporters attending to see the work on the display for the first time. It was officially opened by well-known Tamworth artist and patron of the Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre, Sue Verity, who is based at the Tudor House in Lichfield Street.
Sue said: “I have seen first hand the effort and skill that has been put into these wonderful pieces of art. It’s been amazing to watch and I’m delighted to open this exhibition.”
Ian Burley, Community Support Officer for South East Staffordshire Libraries, said: “We are really proud to be involved in such a worthwhile and fantastic project which helps to embed the library as a local community hub.
“We hope lots of local people take the opportunity to pop in and have a look at the stunning pieces on display.”
Exhibitor and craft group member Jane Thompson said: “It took me months and months to complete my piece in between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but it has been amazing. I have never done anything like this before and the way Maggie inspires and encourages us all is fantastic. We all sit round the table and have a good laugh or talk about what we are going through.”
Fellow exhibitor Sharon Owen said: “Considering this has been our first attempt at mosaic, we are really pleased with the outcome. It is quite difficult, but it gives you something to focus on and takes your mind off other things.”
The group is now part of the British Association for Modern Mosaic and members are currently preparing pieces for the association’s ‘Awakenings’ exhibition at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester in July.
Their work will be on display at Tamworth Library in Corporation Street until April 22. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to flex their own creative skills by helping to design an Anglo Saxon dragon, which has been created by local artists Mike Dolphin and Andy Griffiths.