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  • The Blooming Old Gardener

Old Town Blooming Jubilee

Earlier this year we were delighted to receive funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, which in turn was a celebration of our project over the past eight years and a way of bringing us all back together after a difficult few years.


Old Town Bloom was a temporary art project that turned into a community garden project, and here we are eight years later, still trying to figure out what we are doing. What we have realised is that even a small plot of land can make a big difference, to us as the volunteers, and to everyone that now enjoys the space. As Runcorn High Street changes, it means our first home will be redeveloped into something new - so follow along with Old Town Bloom on Tour to see how we explore those ideas.


In the meantime, please join us as we look back on a wonderful year of getting back together and celebrating all things blooming.


Timeline

Thursday 12th and Friday 13th May 2022 - Brookvale Community Centre

We kicked off the project at Brookvale Community Centre during their Mental Health Awareness week in May - bringing our bloomers and cyanotype workshops to them.


Using the cyanotype process, we were able to gather inspiration from natural surroundings, including weeds growing on a path - this is a brilliant workshop for all ages, as you play around using this traditional photographic process.

With our wooden bloomers we were asking everyone to think about what our (Halton's) Green Spaces mean to them - Rachael led a relaxing session colouring in the bloomers, with words written on the back of them, that she would then stitch into a final display piece (more coming about that).

Who: These sessions were run by Rachael Prime and Claire Pitt - attended by those attending Brookvale Community Centre - including the brilliant Runcorn Sewing Bee

Saturday 14th May 2022 - All Saints Church

All Saints is a beautiful church situated in the heart of Runcorn Town Centre (Old Town) and is a short walk away from the Old Town Bloom Community Garden. It was important for us to provide a safe/ accessible and weather proof environment for our sessions and All Saints was a perfect space for us to use. We were coming together to create decorations for the garden, so we had several local artists run sessions and invited members of the public to join in.


Polymer Clay Decorations with Gail Louise

Gail led the group in making beautiful polymer clay butterfly decorations, from mixing colours and creating the 'candy cane' like material, to rolling it out and making the individual butterflies and shapes. These would be used for a display in the Old Town Bloom community garden at a later date.

Shibori Dyeing with Cathy Rounthwaite

Cathy led a marvellous introduction to shibori dyeing - what is Shibori Dyeing?

The name 'shibori' is derived from the Japanese word “shiboru” meaning to wring, squeeze or press. And the main point of difference between shibori and ordinary tie dye is that it requires the use of thread to create the patterns as opposed to just literally tying the cloth

This is a perfect activity to do outside on a beautiful day and we certainly made the most of the glorious weather we had. It was fascinating to see Cathy mix up a magical container full of indigo dye and Cathy made the technique accessible to anyone from aged 4 to 80 something.

Cyanotypes with Rachael Prime

Rachael led a drop in cyanotype workshop throughout the day - introducing people to the technique, using natural materials and other items, such as lace to create beautiful prints.

We were very lucky with the weather! It was marvellous seeing our regular volunteers after such a long time without being able to meet, as well as encouraging new people to get involved with the activities.


Saturday 4th June 2022 - All Saints Church

We had intended on running this session in our garden, but All Saints Church proved to be such a warm welcome venue, that it made sense to hold the session there.


Mindful Floral Mandala with Mima Cornish

Mima, with some help, created a beautiful floral mandala display in the grounds of the church. These flowers had been destined for the bin, so it was a brilliant opportunity to enjoy them in a different way. Moving forward we would only be creating mandalas like this with 100% foraged materials, as Mima pointed out that there still a huge amount of plastic waste involved in using flowers this way and we are striving to be more environmentally mindful.

UV Resin Art with Gail Louise

Gail led a workshop on creating resin art for a garden display, which would be used in conjunction with the polymer clay butterflies made at the previous workshops.

Bloomers with Rachael Prime

Rachael led some blooming consultation across all three workshop days by using our wooden bloomers to ask more people about their thoughts about our green spaces in Halton and what people enjoy about them. As well as creating a beautiful display on the day, they will also be used to create a more permanent display in the Old Town Bloom community garden. You may have noticed that we like showing off our big actual bloomers too. They certainly draw people over for conversations and its a playful interpretation of our nickname 'Old Town Bloomers'. Runcorn Historical Society joined in the fun and loaned us a pair of bloomers, potentially the oldest knickers in Runcorn!

Cyanotypes with Claire Pitt

Claire led a drop in cyanotype workshop throughout the day - introducing people to the technique, using natural materials and other items, such as lace to create beautiful prints.

Doodle Time with Toni Louise Carter

As well as having set workshops, we also like the freedom to have simple drop in activities like drawing, it also provides us with an opportunity to document the day in a unique way. This led to Toni creating 10 metres of doodlings (nearly 33ft in old money 🤣), with help from some very dedicated doodlers. Toni also worked on creating a beautiful Jubilee inspired new design for the garden, which we highlight in this blog post 'Working with Artists'.

What next?

After the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, we delayed our final garden celebration day till October 28th 2022 - which you can read here 'Old Town Blooming Jubilee Wrap up' and also our 'Working with Artists' blog post.


Our project hits the road soon - with Old Town Bloom on Tour


You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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