Shropshire Star

Artist captures treasured memories in day centre project

A renowned artist has been capturing older people’s special memories after getting to know many of the regulars at a day centre near Bridgnorth.

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Artist Katy Alston has been capturing day centre visitors' treasured memories in paintings. Showing off the work, are from left, Karen Rawlings, Dennis Hill, Katy Alston , and David and Pauline Bird.

The centre, which turned out to be “a goldmine of great stories”, is at Alveley , and is run by a team of volunteers supported by local charity Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin.

Members of the group shared their fondest recollections, ranging from playing tennis at Wimbledon, dancing at the legendary Adelphi Ballroom in West Bromwich, to pot-holing long before the days of health and safety.

Award-winning freelance artist and illustrator Katy Alston, who has produced books, cards, prints and illustrated maps, chatted with members at the day centre, giving them the opportunity to reminisce about their younger days.

Artist Katy Alston sharing her work at Alveley Day Centre with Betty Painter, Heather Corfield and Sylvia James.

“I’d already been in a volunteer befriending role with Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin for a year and a bit before embarking on this arts project,” said Katy.

“As an artist I spend quite a lot of time based at home and so being a befriender is great for me. It’s quite good to get out and see the outside world.”

Katy was successful in securing funding from the Arts Council for the memories project, which involves a painting technique called egg-tempera – using paints made out of pigment and egg yolk.

Artist Katy Alston sharing her work at Alveley Day Centre

“So this method is completely new for me,” said Katy. “I’ve produced images using egg-tempera on linen, and I’m using a limited palette of earth colours. It’s been a steep learning curve for me. Yes, I did my degree in painting years ago, but this technique is quite different in many ways.

“It’s been a joy talking to members at the day centre. It was a goldmine of great stories. I heard about playing tennis at Wimbledon, dancing at the Adelphi, and one woman told me about pot-holing before the days of health and safety. Sounded awfully dangerous. That would have terrified me, quite frankly.”

Artist Katy Alston looking at her work with Chris Richards.

Katy, who finished her work at the day centre on Monday, has also presented a workshop to members to give them an insight into the techniques used to produce the work.

“This has been a really thrilling and inspiring project,” says Karen Rawlings, the Masonic Charitable Foundation-supported service development officer at Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin.

“We can’t thank Katy enough for this fantastic piece of artwork. Everyone enjoyed contributing by recalling their wonderful memories and it was such a positive thing to do.”