Heralding Angels and Shooting Stars – Bringing 2021 to a close and looking forward to 2022

Our angel lino print design for our Christmas Cards

As we come to a close of 2021 we’d like to give a  heartfelt THANK YOU to our participants and volunteers who’ve come to our projects over the past year and have played a huge part in helping to shape the work we deliver.  Thanks to our funders, partner organisations and fantastic freelancers for their continued support and being so flexible during what has been another challenging year for community projects to run! And, a very big thank you to everyone who has supported us in other ways; on social media, visiting our pop up shops, or through buying our Christmas card on Etsy, it’s hugely appreciated. 

We thought that we would share with you an insight into what went on behind the scenes in  this year’s Christmas card design workshops….

Over the final few months of 2021, we  had a lot of fun working with our participants and volunteers to create designs for this year’s Christmas Cards to raise funds to support our therapeutic arts programmes. The designs worked so well that we expanded the range to include mounted and framed prints. 

Through a series of lino cutting and printmaking sessions led by artists Bryony Murray and Gayle Robinson our participants created a range of playful folk-art inspired designs to represent festive joy, featuring angels, shooting stars and nutcrackers. 

Here our social media consultant Emma Houston talks to Bryony Murray about the process and development of the cards and prints.

Where did the idea for lino printing the 2021 Christmas range come from?

‘Earlier this year we were approached by Bounceback Foods C.I.C, a Manchester based charity that delivers projects which fight food poverty through a range of support and services including free cookery courses and foodbank drives. Bounceback invited Bazooka Arts as the arts charity to represent Glasgow and to illustrate a chapter in their new book `Secret Dishes from Around the World 3’. 

We were excited by the opportunity to be involved in this book and chose lino printing as the medium to work with our participants and volunteers to create the design. It’s a technique they hadn’t tried before and one that we thought would work well while teaching remotely during Covid restrictions. 

We were amazed with the quality of the results, it was a brilliant way of bringing people’s work together in one collaborative design and was incredibly rewarding for our participants to see their artwork included as an illustration in a published book. 

As this was such an effective method of creating collaborative designs and our participants had enjoyed it so much, we decided to repeat this process for our Christmas range and offer the opportunity to new participants, learning from our volunteers and participants who had been involved in the book illustration – a real shared learning experience!’

What was the inspiration for the designs?

‘To inspire our design for therecipe book we looked at the work of Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko, we found that the style of folk art translates well into lino cutting because of the simplicity of the line and patterns. We thought a similar style would be perfect for our festive designs and the group made lists of imagery that brought feelings of joy such as angels, shooting stars, mistletoe, nutcrackers, birds. We also included one or two pieces of imagery from the recipe book in our Christmas Cards because some elements translated well into festive designs.  If you look closely at the recipe book design, there were one or two pieces of foliage that you can see in the nutcracker Christmas card design.’

What work went on behind the scenes to bring the ideas to fruition?

‘We started the project with an online  introductory workshop with  to develop the ideas and design style for the project with ten of our volunteers and participants. Then, in September we began delivering a 12 week programme of lino cutting workshops in the Charlotte Toll Centre, Coatbridge. It was a great fun collaborative process. The group hand-cut around 50 lino printing blocks, maybe even more; it was quite an achievement! The linocuts themselves were really beautiful to look at, little works of art in their own right. We found it quite challenging printing the blocks within the 2 hours that we had the room booked for but we managed!’ 

‘We produced lots of prints of each lino block in a selection of colours, which we used to create collages to  help us to  compose ideas for the final card designs.  Once we were happy with the designs we photographed the prints in a light box and our graphic designer, Zeynep  transformed them into digital files to create our Christmas cards. The biggest challenge was deciding when to stop because it was such fun and there could have been endless design options. We finally whittled it down to the final 4 designs, with some coming in different colourways because we couldn’t choose our favourite.’

Cards and prints were sold via our Etsy shop and at a pop-up stall in Merchant Square, Glasgow on 26th November and 4th December. So far we have sold 140 packs of cards and 22 framed artworks,  with all proceeds of sale contributing to providing more therapeutic arts support for children and adults in need.

We have loved the lino printing workshops and working with our participants and volunteers to create such joyful and festive designs. The workshops wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our funders throughout 2021, so many thanks to our funders: 

We are looking forward to launching some new projects in the new year which we will share with you soon. We hope that you have a happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2022! 

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