By KLTV Newsdesk –
Huddersfield’s art collective, CollaborARTi, and the health and wellbeing social enterprise, Locorum, are coming together to commemorate Black History Month with a captivating exhibition titled Celebrating Creative and Cultural Roots in Kirklees.
The event, which runs throughout October, is an exploration of the 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the ties to Commonwealth countries.
The exhibition will be hosted at the CollaborARTi Gallery 2 in Huddersfield Town Centre, located at Huddersfield Piazza, opposite the former library building main steps.
The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, between 11 am and 3 pm.
Artwork from the Diaspora
This exhibition showcases artwork and written pieces created during a series of workshops that took place during the spring and summer of 2023.
The workshops were led by CollaborARTi’s creative practitioners and delved into themes related to migration to Kirklees from Commonwealth countries.
Participants engaged with their heritage and identity through activities such as block printing, jewellery and macramé necklace making, diamond art, origami, felting, and spoken word workshops.
As part of the project, CollaborARTi sent cards to local families from 54 Commonwealth countries, inviting them to share their creative responses for an “Identity Corner” in the gallery.
This corner provides a platform for the diverse experiences of people who arrived in Kirklees from the Commonwealth.
Notably, the exhibition features contributions from a group of Windrush generation elders from Oasis Care Support Services Connect Group.
They collaborated over a four-week period to create a 3D illustration that depicts their journey to the UK, working alongside Oasis Care’s arts and crafts specialist, Pearline Reilly.
The project’s inspiration came from online discussions in 2021. Portia Roberts-Popham, Chief Executive Officer at Locorum, stated: “During lockdown, we held some Zoom sessions called Mothers, Sisters, and Aunties, where we looked for ways to maintain connections in those challenging times.
“We recognized the importance of intergenerational and intercommunity conversations, especially acknowledging the role of our mothers in passing on our heritage.
“This also tied into the relationship with England, the ‘Mother Country,’ and concerns about the potential loss of traditional art skills.”
Celebrating Creative and Cultural Roots seeks to explore these themes by uniting generations in a wide array of creative cultural activities.
The project has received enthusiastic engagement from numerous participants. Roberts-Popham added: “When people feel confident about themselves and their heritage and can express that through art, drama, music, spoken word, or any medium, it can significantly contribute to a better sense of wellbeing.”
One of the creative practitioners involved in the project, Lorna Hanson, a jewellery and graphic designer based in Huddersfield, crafted a stunning “Tree of Life” triptych Macramé dreamcatcher inspired by the theme of Cultural Roots in Kirklees.
The piece represents the continuous growth and strength of the diverse diaspora within the Huddersfield community.
Lorna shared her macramé skills with the Reach Performing Arts group during a summer creative workshop. The participants chose flags from their heritage to create a variety of colourful jewellery and accessories using key macramé knotting techniques. These creations now grace the exhibition, with each piece using colours from the flags of Commonwealth countries.
Passing on Knowledge
Reflecting on her workshop experience, Lorna stated: “Diaspora is a Greek word meaning ‘to sow over, or to scatter.’ From a tiny seed to a sapling, to fully mature trees, there is always a continuous cycle of growth.
“We, as individuals, never stop growing but constantly absorb new information and knowledge.
“I enjoyed passing on my knowledge of macramé to the younger generation, inspiring them through a creative art form that allowed them to contribute meaningfully to the final exhibition.”
Kath Wright, Co-founder and Chair at CollaborARTi, expressed her enthusiasm for the project, saying: “This project has been a fantastic collaboration for all involved. CollaborARTi practitioners have loved managing and delivering this series of workshops and working with all the different groups.
“This project has increased our members’ self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.
“It’s a great example of how funding our grassroots organization can help build trust and foster understanding between different cultures and enable so much. We are looking forward to working on future themes.”
Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the impressive wood-carved sculptures of Jamaican artist Errol Beckford in Gallery Three at CollaborARTi. Errol specializes in abstract folk art and carvings from the roots of trees.
For more information about the project and exhibition, you can visit the c3happenings website.