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Craft Centre Group Inspired By Saxon Queen Aethelfleda
Members of a craft therapy group who learned a new skill as part of a mammoth community arts project in Tamworth are to showcase their work to members of the public in their first ever exhibition. The Tamworth Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre craft group discovered the art of mosaic when they were tasked with making a stunning stained-glass window style mosaic depicting Tamworth's Saxon Queen Aethelfleda.
The mosaic project formed part of the huge 18 month I Am Tamworth initiative created by Tamworth Borough Council's Arts and Events team to increase participation in the arts. The finished 5 foot by 4 foot design was transferred onto a large piece of fabric and was dramatically unfurled to form a key element of last spring's production of Tigress - Tamworth's biggest ever outdoor display of dance, drama and acrobatics - which took place in the Castle Grounds.
Inspired by the success of their artwork, members of the craft group continued to explore their newfound passion for mosaic and were able to develop the skill further with help from an Arts Development Grant from Tamworth Borough Council. They will now be showcasing their work in a mosaic exhibition to be held at Tamworth Library from March 24 to April 22.
Titled 'Out of the Dark', the exhibition features pieces by more than 30 of the Stonydelph-based centre's clients and volunteers. It is inspired by Anglo Saxon, Celtic and Viking art and 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.
Tigress performed at Tamworth Castle Grounds
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.
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. The group is now part of the British Association for Modern Mosaic and hopes to exhibit at the association's 'Awakenings' exhibition at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester in July.
Craft sessions are led by well-known Tamworth artist Maggie Carney who has been volunteering at the centre for almost three years. She said: "Most of the 35 people involved in the exhibition have worked on individual pieces. Some have based their designs on Anglo Saxon, Celtic and Viking patterns while others have studied artefacts, carvings and illuminated manuscripts for inspiration."
Tamworth Castle helped provide Anglo Saxon inspiration for the I Am Tamworth project
"It is the first time that most members have ever worked in this medium. Some face challenging problems with motor skills and have made incredible efforts in completing work. I am constantly in awe of the enthusiasm and determination I see at every craft session."
Paula Da Silva, manager of the centre, which supports people with cancer and other chronic illnesses, said: "The involvement in I Am Tamworth, and particularly the Tigress event and mosaic exhibition, has been incredible for us. For the clients and volunteers to have something specific to work towards has given them a sense of purpose and pride. The work they have created to date has been phenomenal."