Happy holidays!

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Last Saturday I ran a workshop for toddlers with my friend and fellow creative, Ciara Leeming.  As part of this year’s inaugural Levenshulme Arts Festival the session was held at the Beehive in Cringle Park to raise awareness and funds for this beloved community hub. In keeping with the venue we made model bees and then painted a garden for them to fly in. Much fun was had by all (especially me). Thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen or took part on the day. Here’s to more arty messiness at the Beehive in future!

I was recently involved in some audience development work for Gallery Oldham, helping to inspire new audiences for their natural history collection. I particularly enjoyed creating an eye-catching flyer to encourage people with no prior interest in the subject to attend regular discussion sessions.

OHspring2Last week I was lucky to be one of 24 students attending an Oral History Spring School at the Institute for Historical Research, the University of London.  It was an intense few days, jam-packed with interesting case studies, ethical questions and differing approaches to collection and analysis. I really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life – including sociologists, artists, historians and academics – employing the medium of oral history to inspire and further their work. (In particular Paul Thompson, the founding father of Oral History.) The course has renewed my enthusiasm for a subject that’s fascinated me since I was an undergraduate. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work on OH projects about a huge range of subjects including Sheffield’s cutlery industry, migration, Yemeni heritage, Salford Quays, military memories, artist’s lives and race relations. Here’s to many more!

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I’ve been working with Peggy Mulongo from the University of Salford to develop research for her PhD in mental health nursing. Peggy has worked for NESTAC for years, helping to deliver the Gateway refugee resettlement programme. She wanted to understand the successes and failures of the programme from a young person’s perspective, using a creative approach to consultation. Peggy and I devised a series of workshops to gather information from representatives of the Somali, Congalese, Bhutanese and Senegalese communities in Rochdale and Bolton. Activities included mapping positive and negative experiences, creating a timeline and an expressive piece of work. It was an enlightening experience and I learnt a lot along the way. Lots of luck to Peggy as she begins writing up…

I’ve just spent the most fantastic afternoon with young women from Ananna and their mothers. To celebrate International Women’s Week we created life-size portraits on the theme of ‘Strong Manchester Women’ using paint and collage materials.  It was so much fun and the results were brilliant, as you can see!

The Legacy of Ahmed project that I’ve been managing for the last 18 months has just been awarded ‘runner up’ in the Manchester BME Network awards, heritage category. Partners of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, MRSN came first. Partners, Ananna also scooped first prize in the Arts section, so a brilliant night all round!

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