With huge thanks to everyone who visited and joined in one or more of the creative activities on Preston’s Flag Market on Saturday July 23rd, we certainly made our mark! Massive thanks also to all of the artists, creatives and volunteers who helped deliver and of course to Preston City Council and also the Arts Council for enabling us by funding the event. Whilst it was a quiet start due to the rain, as the skies cleared and the sun appeared, things quickly started to get busy.
This year’s Making A Mark event was fundamentally different to previous years, in which the emphasis has been on artists and creatives delivering artworks, installations or performances and visitors observing. This year was all about audience participation so every artist and creative taking part had to come up with ideas for involving visitors and letting them take part, join in, make or create things or generally get involved, whilst also meeting the theme “Immaterial World“.
The key to that theme was that all activities had to re-use, re-cycle or re-purpose materials or create in a sustainable way and that certainly led to some very creative thinking. It proved hugely successful, with visitors of all ages and abilities joining in and having fun. Most couldn’t believe they were allowed to take part, checking again and again that it was all right to do so. The range of activities ranged from life drawing to samba drumming, painting with pastels to making bags, creating poetry to chalk graffiti, gel printing to shaker making. Our feedback results showed that over 88% of those asked said they enjoyed taking part, with almost 12% saying they enjoyed it ‘a little bit’. We think that is pretty encouraging
One of the most popular was the Shaker Maker activity, run by Dr Jon Aveyard, leader of the samba band, in the ‘noisy’ gazebo. Visitors of all ages came along, many bringing empty plastic bottles, for him to show what and how much ingredients to use to make a shaker and then how to use it. Children especially found this fascinating, some even using their shakers to join in with the band when they performed, amazed they were allowed and indeed encouraged, to do so. Preston Recycling team also brought along plastic bottles which was handy as supplies soon ran out!
The samba band later gave a performance on the Flag Market and a parade through Preston City Centre, then a short performance under the canopy by the covered market, before returning to the Flag Market for a final performance. Members of the public, with their shakers, joined in.
Another popular activity was the chalk graffiti led by artist Ian Kilroe which although got off to a rather damp start as Ian made use of a dry patch under the tree at the bottom of the Flag Market, soon spread once the sun came out, with some wonderful artworks produced by visitors of all ages and abilities. Visitors at first couldn’t quite believe they were allowed to chalk on the flagstones but we had sought permission for them to do so and it quickly became popular with all age groups. Ian helped encourage and inspire some striking artworks to be made and some great fun had by all. The chalk washed away with the rain later that evening leaving no trace.
Other very popular activities included past Making A Mark participating artists Les Darlow, showing visitors how to use pastels and helping them create their own artworks, whilst poet Winston Plowes helped visitors select words to create their own poetry. This was in the ‘quiet gazebo’ where both were kept busy all afternoon and both mentioned in feedback from visitors as being especially interesting and many visitors trying both activities and more.
Kyra from the Harris Museum, ran the life drawing with model Ruby suitably costumed, initially under the tree for shelter from rain and then around the war memorial. Easels were available for those wanting to learn with Kyra on hand to give guidance, as well as those more experienced who just wanted to sit and draw. Again the rain made it a little damp initially but sunshine soon prevailed.
Under the cover of another gazebo a variety of arts and crafts activities were run by Oxheys’ artists Caroline and Evelyn. These included making bags from discarded textiles, making jewellery and gel printing, along with a small sales table ably managed by volunteer Vi, selling artists handmade cards and prints. Quite a few textile bags were made by visitors along with some interesting gel prints and jewellery. Some interesting presents for some no doubt.
Preston’s Recycling team were also there with information on how and what could be recycled, which proved another popular topic, with our feedback saying how much visitors had learned. Our thanks to the recycling team for their help and support and for the provision of plastic bottles for shaker making.
It was a fantastic day. We received some valuable and very encouraging feedback from visitors who unanimously said how much they had enjoyed the event and especially that they were able to join in and be a part of it. Many had never tried creative activities before and said they were inspired to do so again. We offer our thanks to all of the volunteers who helped to collect that feedback.
Here are just some of the images from the day – if you wish to use any please acknowledge Oxheys and include a link to the site, thank you.
All photographs copyright Denise Swanson.