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Review: Making Places Special, at Williamson Art Gallery

Making Places Special
Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, 23rd September -30th October 2016

Words, Jennifer Jones, first published here for Friends of Williamson Art Gallery & Wirral Museums

An exhibition, Making Places Special, displaying work by young people aged 8 – 15 who attended a series of summer workshops was launched at the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead on Thursday. It celebrates the fifteenth year of summer workshops offered to young people at the Birkenhead gallery.

The artists who ran the workshops, the young people who participated in the sessions and their families all came to opening of the exhibition, which will be open to the public throughout October.

Cathy Warren, Community Arts Facilitator said: “The gallery looks so colourful, and there was a real buzz as it filled up with the young artists, their families and guests.”

The exhibition was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Ann McLachlan, and Wirral Principal Museums Officer Colin Simpson. Pamela Sullivan, Artist in residence also spoke about the project. Artist Christine O’Reilly Wilson, from Oxton, has been involved in the summer workshops since they started in 2001 and said every year the theme is completely different. James Bowman, assisted local artist Marie Louise Williams in leading a workshop which included making ‘dens’ out of willow and paper to create a physical ‘special place’. He described some of the structures made by the young people as “architectural masterpieces.” 

Four sets of workshops were held during August and funded by the Wirral Methodist Housing Association and the Friends of the Williamson Art Gallery and Wirral Museums. Everyone who took part was offered the chance to develop skills in paint, print, textiles and construction.  Francesca Salvatore, 11, from Oxton said the whole workshop was not only great fun, she also learned new skills. She said: “My group used mono-printing to make flags of places that were special to us, and I chose Chester Zoo.”

More than 60 students from 25 schools contributed to the exhibition, which George Davies, Councillor for Claughton believes is a brilliant way for them to gain confidence thanks to the opportunity provided every year by the gallery.  He said: “The people who work here are truly a wonder to the community.” Deputy Mayor Councillor Ann McLachlan, said: “This exhibition and similar projects must inspire many of the young people involved to follow an artistic path in the future. It is yet another great example of collaborative work in the borough.”

Making Places Special, Williamson Art Gallery
Making Places Special, Williamson Art Gallery