Old Town Bloom 2014 ‘In a nutshell’

Posted by Claire Pitt on

March 9, 2015

Old Town Bloom – The blooming beginnings

Hazlehurst Studios worked alongside Town Team Development and Halton Borough Council’s Arts Development Team to bring some blooms into the Old Town, Runcorn. Working with community groups and businesses in the old town we brought groups together by creating an oasis of flowering tins, as well as a beautiful garden space. This was achieved by running a series of workshops in schools and with community groups, as a vehicle to brighten and raise the profile of the area, as somewhere people care about, as well as passing on some of the valuable skills of art and flower planting, to name a few.

The original idea was to fill the town with flowering upcycled tins, but after a walkabout around the Old Town, a plot of land, hidden in the open, seemed to be the perfect spot to add some colour and interest. Working closely with the councils Open Spaces team, permission was given to add some green fingered beauty to this neglected spot. Over several months we turned it from a blank canvas to a beautiful garden spot, culminating in ‘Old Town Bloom Day’, which opened the garden to the public officially.

As the project became a more tangible thing, more people came onboard to help. Local gardener and artist John Bond became an invaluable support and designed the majority of the garden layout, as well as growing a humongous amount of the plants.

The local community were the key components to this project and they are the ones that really put the heart into it. Hazlehurst Studios sent artists to two local schools, St Edwards Catholic Primary School and Victoria Road Primary School, during those sessions the children took part in creating upcycled tin planters, using textile and print mediums with artists Cathy Rounthwaite and Maria Tarn. Other artists from Hazlehurst Studios worked with the local community on various open days, encouraging people to try different art mediums and adopt sunflowers. The cyanotype workshop by Niki Carlin and the Photographic Walk with Casey Carlin and Nicolas Carrillo were popular with many.
We had lots of support from the local community, who wholeheartedly got involved with the project, either by getting actively involved with the painting or planting, or by showing support online. As the project really evolved over time, we really appreciated all the input that each community group offered, as it made the project really come alive.

Please take the time to read our ‘Thank You’ section to see who got involved, over time we will add some extra blog posts about the groups that had larger involvement with the project.

Blog posts/ news articles/ twitter streams

Twitter and facebook provided us with a great platform to share the progress of the project and getting more people involved, using the hashtag #oldtownbloom a visual online diary of events has been created Follow this link to see the project from April to more recent tweets ‘click here‘.

In the end, over four hundred people have become a part of ‘Old Town Bloom’, with long-lasting community links forged and the definite need for a continuation of the project. A lot of people discovered the garden at a later date and have expressed an interest in getting involved with the ‘next one’ whatever shape that project might take. The legacy that this project has left behind, even as most of the plants have faded away, is the fact that people can take ownership of their local area and turn it into something beautiful. At Hazlehurst Studios we have had continuous positive feedback about the project, from concerned emails if anything went missing to tales of a little boy visiting the garden with his Grandma every week, using his pocket money to buy the garden something. The most poignant interaction with the garden is some unknown person putting a memorial commemorating fallen soldiers this November.

We would like to thank: 
Art Box – Local art group that decorated some beautiful tins.
Halton Borough Council Art Development Team – Advice and support throughout the project.
B&Q – Generously donated plants
Bridgewater Motor Boat Club – provided some beautifully decorated tins.
Calderstones School – Got involved via twitter, decorated numerous tins, joined in on workshop day and provided plants.
Canal Boat Adventure Project – Got involved with decorating tins and learnt about cyanotypes.
GMB Reach Out – Got involved via twitter, decorated tins and provided support throughout.
Halton Biz Connector – Got involved via twitter, decorated tins and provided support and connections throughout.
Halton Carers Centre -Got involved with workshops and decorated tins.
Halton Community Partnership Trust – provided a beautifully planted and decorated tin.
Halton Senior Services – provided support, connections and materials/
Hazlehurst Studios – provided artists, venue, materials and support throughout.
Knit a Year– provided support throughout the project.
Lady Lever Art Club – produced some beautifully decorated tins during workshop.
Muddy Buddies – planted sunflowers and created labels for tins.
Norton Priory – provided some heritage plants and beautifully decorated tins.
Old Town Enabled – Provided materials and beautifully decorated tins, a great support throughout the whole project.
Old Town Garage – Provided labour when heavy things needed moving, including a planted toilet.
Open Spaces – Halton Borough Council – Providing valuable advice and support throughout the project.
Riverside Housing Association – Got involved via twitter, and then actively became involved with the project, providing materials and recruiting more people to get involved.
Runcorn Framers – Provided two beautifully decorated tins.
Runcorn Hill Nature Reserve – Provided materials and access to other community groups, such as muddy buddies.
Runcorn Rotary Club – Got involved in the project with gusto, providing a beautifully planted display and invaluable support along the way.
Runcorn Shopping Centre – Provided a wonderful gazebo and great support throughout the project.
Runcorn Town Team – Provided funding and support throughout the project.
Soroptimist International – provided decorated tins and beautiful begonias.
St Edwards Primary School – provided decorated tins, plants and involvement.
The Big Sunflower Project – Provided many wonderful sunflowers seeds and lots of support online. Peek at our sunflower photographs ‘click here
The Gas Store – Allows us to dive in their skip and use old things as planters, including a toilet.
The Knowledge Observatory – Provided a venue for us to run our cyanotype workshop and support throughout the project.
Victoria Road Primary School – Decorated some beautiful tins and actively got involved with the project both on and offline.
VPET Halton – Provided us with support and materials throughout the project.
Wat Prah Singh Buddhist Temple – Provided us with a beautifully decorated tin.
Widnes Rugby League Club – Provided us with materials (Rugby Balls) and support throughout the project.

Main Volunteers
John Bond – Head Gardener, designer and rabbit wrangler.
Kerry Bates – Local art student
Michelle Shuker – Runcorn Hill and HBC.
Claire Pitt – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Carys Hughes – Artist at stiwdio studio
Maria Tarn – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Nicolas Carrillo – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Casey Carlin – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Niki Carlin – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Hayley Holden – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Heather Moodie – Local volunteer
Louise Hesketh – Art development Team
Cathy Rounthwaite – Artist at Hazlehurst Studios
Sue Davies – The Knowledge Observatory and great planter.
Vanessa Lee – Riverside Housing Association and wonderful help.

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