An exhibition in Berkhamsted is celebrating the art local people have made over the last year. ‘Creative Escapes’, at Open Door community and arts space, features paintings by more than 40 children and some adults – inspired by Berkhamsted art company The Canvas Crew.
Katie Jones, from The Canvas Crew, explains: ‘When the first lockdown happened, we had to stop running our in-person workshops and after-school clubs. But knowing how brilliant art making can be for lifting the mood and providing a bit of an escape, we felt it was important to find new ways to keep everyone creating. Moving online was nerve-wracking at first, but seeing everyone’s amazing art emerge on screen has been such a thrill and honour.’
Since last spring, The Canvas Crew have videoed ‘creative challenges’, run holiday clubs (when restrictions allowed) and moved onto Zoom for their workshops and after-school club. They also offered ‘creative catch-ups’ – a way for friends to paint and spend time together from their own homes. More than 200 people have got involved, and many are part of this new exhibition.
Stephanie Kearins, whose son Hugh, aged 10, attends the after-school Zoom club, says: ‘As a mother, I think the art sessions provide a creative outlet that enhances emotional wellbeing, whereas my son simply enjoys learning different techniques to create his weekly masterpieces.’ Hugh has 3 pieces in the exhibition.
Blaise Hagan, aged 10, who has also taken part in online workshops and the club, says: ‘I like how we paint things I wouldn’t think to do on my own. It also gives me ideas to try different effects, like scratching into the paint with the end of the brush. I’m really proud to be in an exhibition. It’s very exciting that lots of people will be looking at my paintings.’
There are more than 70 pieces of art in the exhibition, including paintings of Berkhamsted Town Hall, the Natural History Museum in Tring and the bluebells in Dockey Wood, Ashridge Estate.
Katie adds: ‘I’m so thrilled to have this chance to share everyone’s art with the world. It looked beautiful on the screen and is breathtaking in real life!’
Creative Escapes is at Open Door, 360 High Street, Berkhamsted, to 12 June, Mondays to Saturdays, 10.30am to 3.30pm.