Shropshire Star

Budding artists from the ArtShack to hold their first exhibition in Shrewsbury

It’s a place where people are encouraged to develop their artistic talents in a friendly and non-judgemental environment.

Founder Maggie Allmark and budding artist Paul Garrett

Since 2017, ArtShack has offered art, dance and wellbeing workshops to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

It was founded by director Maggie Allmark, who teaches a range of skills including textiles, machine embroidery, ceramics, painting and drawing, design and printmaking.

“I started teaching machine embroidery to a small group of ladies and one of them asked if they could do a bit of art. It has evolved from there,” she explains.

“We were getting quite busy when we went into Covid and to keep all of our members happy during the lockdowns, we went online for a while.

“After Covid, it was still quiet because people were worried about coming back into the world and we kept it low-key. Now we’re back to being busy again and we have over 70 members.”

Founder Maggie Allmark, artist Abigail Lloyd Bottom, and tutor Jacob Gourley outside the venue based at Berwick Wharf

ArtShack offers regular Get Creative art sessions at its base at Berwick Wharf,near Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, where people can try their hand at a wide range of techniques in a variety of media. Experienced artists and teachers are on hand to guide participants and help them to learn new skills.

“People can book a half-day or a whole day and we have all of the materials they need,” says Maggie.

“We get so many people come here who have their own art room or art shed at home but they don’t use it because it’s quite an isolating experience. There is no one to bounce ideas off, to tell you if what you’re doing is any good or suggest ways you can improve.

“It can also be quite expensive doing it at home because you have to buy all of the materials.

“People seem to be much more creative in an environment with other people and they support each other,” says Maggie.

Jane Pritchard from Much Wenlock with one of her pieces of art

ArtShack also offers focussed workshops taught by taught by artists that specialise in different techniques and mediums.

As well as providing people with a creative outlet, ArtShack also plays a part in helping to boost people’s mental health.

“It’s also about increasing people’s wellbeing. A lot of people became very lonely and reclusive during the lockdown,” says Maggie.

"We’re on the social prescription register and some people are referred to us through that. We have people with complex needs and people with fibromyalgia who come here. The beautiful thing is that we don’t focus on problems, we focus on creativity. There is a real sense of community here."

ArtShack is hosting an exhibition at the Bear Steps Art Gallery in Shrewsbury, which opens on Monday

On Monday, an exhibition showcasing the artistic achievements of more than 40 of ArtShack’s past and present participants opens at the Bear Steps Art Gallery in Shrewsbury.

It’s the first time ArtShack has organised an exhibition for members and it has been supported by a £4,625 grant from the UK Government through the Vibrant Shropshire Grant Scheme, funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

“The creative skills that they have developed whilst supported by ArtShack’s artists is just amazing and we are delighted to be giving them the opportunity to showcase their work,” says Maggie.

"It’s all about celebrating their achievements because a lot of them don’t consider themselves to be artists and will be excited to see their work hanging on the walls."

Amie Morris from Shrewsbury, Kate Burton from Bridgnorth and Paula Eardley from Oswestry with some of their work

During the exhibition run, there will taster sessions,including creative card design with contemporary marbled paper, provided by artist Linzi McGivern on March 7, from 10am-2pm. Instructor Caroline Gibson will also be giving visitors an introduction to Qi Gong on March 14, from 10.30am-11.30am.

The exhibition is open daily between 10am until 4pm from March 4-16 at the gallery in St Alkmonds Square.

An open day will take place at ArtShack on April 6 when visitors can find out more about the arts venue and the workshops.

“We want people to see what we do and how lively it is, and how much culture enriches our people’s lives and wellbeing,” says Maggie.

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