Sunday, 9 December 2012

Overdue Update #3: And the rest

And so to the rest of my life. Whilst I am spending a large amount of my time working to save myself some money, I've been preoccupying myself with various little endeavours so I'll share with you some of the main ones.

I have spent a lot of my time making jewellery (including the bracelets for Always Present.) Soon, I hope I'll feel comfortable enough to open an Etsy shop; I just want a tiny bit more practice! Most of the items I have been making have been earrings:

Lego Darth Vader and Yoda earrings.

Lego Gandalf and Gimli earrings, modelled by yours truly.

A selection of items. Owls often feature.

I've been indulging in nail art too, mainly Pacman and moustaches.

As a present to her, I painted Charlesworth with her cat, Salem.

And here are two little sloths, because I very much like sloths.

I have also been knitting. I am gradually getting better at knitting. Hopefully I won't become too preoccupied with knitting that I will neglect this space for too long again.

Overdue Update #2: Hallé music times

In the midst of all the exciting arts and crafts happenings, the Hallé got back in touch with me. They had invited alumni members of the Youth Choir to take part in their performance and recording of Elgar's The Apostles and I said yes in a heartbeat. After a few weeks of intensive rehearsal, we performed the piece at the beginning of May with the majority of the recording coming from the concert performance.

Section from The Apostles that was solely Hallé Youth Choir girls. Once again, I was an Alto 2 :)

It was so wonderful to be back in the Hallé, back singing such challenging and beautiful music, back under Sir Mark Elder's instruction. The concert was well praised, including this 5 star review from the Guardian. If the promise of the CD in September wasn't enough to excite me, the Hallé then got back in touch to say that they had been invited to perform The Apostles at the Royal Albert Hall as Prom 37 in this year's BBC Proms.

I don't need to tell you how excited I was. I'd performed with the Hallé in two BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in 2009 and they were the best nights of my life. I took part in the concert and it was magical. Here I am onstage as rehearsals were about to begin:

Here we are during rehearsals. I am the head next to the line of squares on the organ:

Lovingly nicked from the Hallé's Facebook page.
Also lovingly nicked from the Hallé's Facebook page.

The Prom was a joy. The recording of The Apostles was released in September:

Now Gramophone critics have cited the recording as the CD of 2012. Pretty exciting. A couple of weeks ago, the Hallé were back in touch again to ask if I wished to take part in a performance in February and then the Youth Ensembles' 10th anniversary shortly after that. Also pretty exciting (this is an understatement.)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Overdue Update #1: Arts and Crafts

Well, hello there. I realise I've neglected this little corner of the internet for a while and for that I apologise. I've been meaning to inform you of these things but then other things have got in the way, so here they are now. First up, arts and crafts.

For three months earlier this year, I was the Arts and Crafts tutor at Stockdales in Sale. I took two weekly classes where I set projects for people with varying disabilities. It was rather hectic but so rewarding and a lot of fun when the projects went well. I often made some of the projects too in order to help direct the sessions so here are some of the things we got up to:

We decorated little plant pots and made paper flowers to put in them.

We decorated birdhouses to encourage birds to visit our gardens.

We made tissue paper collages of various animals and shapes. This is Frank the Frog (his full name is Francis.)

We painted using animal stencils and I made a rather vibrant wallpaper pattern with the tiger painting I did.

We made masks and this is how I greeted my mum when she came home that day.

We also made Jubilee crowns, Jubilee and Olympic decorations and one of my personal favourite projects: The Little Book of Me. I asked everyone to draw different things on pieces of paper of equal size, including a self-portrait, something that is their favourite colour, their favourite weather/season, their favourite belonging, etc. We then tied the eight drawings together and that became their Little Book of Me; they could hand the book to anyone and we would learn lots of things about them. I also ended up in the summer play as Simon Cowell, as you do.

Stockdales was a great experience but unfortunately quite a trek for me to get to (a good 90 minutes on public transport) so I had to leave. However, for the past six and a half months I've been volunteering at Mahdlo, the new youth centre in Oldham. My colleage, Debbie, and I have been named as a creative force to be reckoned with and keep blitzing out some pretty awesome arts and crafts with the young people at the centre. These projects have included this Eid Mubarak banner which yours truly designed:

In the past couple of months, Debbie and myself have been supporting a few Arts and Crafts regulars in setting up their own little gift shop enterprise, Always Present. We had our first sale at the Halloween parties where we made profit straightaway which not many businesses can say! We were so proud! I spent a lot of time making bracelets to sell for those parties:

For Christmas, we designed some Christmas cards and had them printed professionally. They turned out a treat and the office snapped up nearly half our stock before they went on sale! I am responsible for the snowmen card (which was based on my lead worker's idea.)

The cards have been bundled up in packs of six tied up with ribbon. We are super pleased with them. Now we're working on more Christmassy things, like these golden reindeer I made yesterday:

I have made all nine reindeer, I just couldn't fit them all in one photo.

So that's the arts and crafts side of things for the moment. Always Present have got some exciting projects coming up soon and we're so proud of the way the young people are working hard for the best possible end results :)