Maldon Art Trail

Maldon art trail logo

Last weekend I was really fortunate to be invited to the Maldon Art Trail’s Children’s workshops – a day of free art and craft workshops for local families. Maldon’s Art Trail began in 2008 and every year is organised by an enthusiastic group of volunteers to showcase the work of the many outstanding local artists, taking over shops, cafes and public buildings all around the town.

I brought along my jelly plates, inks and rollers and taught about 50 children how to use jelly to print onto paper bags. I have to say that I was very impressed with how well behaved all of the children were and how fabulous their prints each looked.

As time was short and there were so many other activities for the children to try, we just focused on the basics of jelly printing (although there is so much more to learn, as the printers on our five week printmaking course are discovering at the moment).

Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail
Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail

I was also asked a few times throughout the day about other children’s workshops here at Slamseys, so perhaps I’d better put a few more printing dates in the diary – but in the meantime, we are supporting The Big Draw this weekend with our Children’s Dreamtime Art workshop, inspired by storytelling and Australian Aboriginal paintings.

Children's Dreamtime Art Workshop, Slamseys Big Draw, Essex

For any of the parents who are interested in making more jelly prints at home with the kids, there are some directions and recipes here.

Find out more about the Maldon Art Trail here and check out the last few Essex Summer of Art events of the year here.


Beautiful Butterflies

One of my favourite things about Spring and Summer is that the butterflies start to flit around the garden.  Last year I had one of those packets of seeds that encouraged birds and butterflies – although I have to say there were more insects than anything else.  Still, worth a shot to have a couple of butterflies in the garden.

John Ray was a local naturalist – he lived just down the road from Slamseys Farm and spent his lifetime studying botany, zoology and natural theology, as well as completing important works on the classification of plants and animals.  Butterflies were one of his greatest passions:

“You ask what is the use of butterflies?
I reply to adorn the world and delight the eyes of men;
to brighten the countryside like so many golden jewels.
To contemplate their exquisite beauty and variety is to
experience the truest pleasure”

 John Ray, 1691

Slamseys Sloe Gin Made at Slamseys
Slamseys Sloe Gin
Made at Slamseys

There are lots of things here at Slamseys that have been inspired by John Ray and his love of nature: From the bottles of my sister’s Slamseys Sloe Gin, to our upcoming Art Month in June, which is themed around ‘The Natural World’.

As part of our Art Month and Art Trail (part of the Essex Summer of Art) we will be having a sculpture park in Dovehouse Paddock, where local sculptor Graham Thrussell will be displaying his giant insects, including an interactive butterfly sculpture – sounds exciting doesn’t it?!

Graham Thrussell's Butterfly
Graham Thrussell’s Butterfly
I’m also excited because we will be holding an Entomology class here in the barn at the end of the month with our taxidermy tutor Elle Kaye.  In this relaxing workshop, we’ll learn how to preserve, pin, dry and assemble butterflies.  There’ll be tea and cake and maybe even a little taster of gin!
Butterfly Preservation Workshop Slamseys Art
Butterfly Preservation Workshop
Slamseys Art

So many things that I’m so excited for!  For all the updates about our Art Month, sign up to our newsletter.

Barn Theatre

We’ve almost been open for a whole year now at Slamseys Art although I can’t believe how quickly that’s gone!  I’m getting organised for this year’s Art Trail, planning exhibitions and workshops and supporting a few charity events here and there, like our Doodle Day earlier in the month.  But I’m still always on the look out for new ideas and events to take place in the barn…

One of my latest ideas is to use the barn as a blank space for theatre.  Theatrical groups, stand-up comedians, sketch show troupes, dancers and performers can take our beautiful barn, with its glorious original beams, and mould it into whatever they can imagine for their show!  I can just see it now – maybe a stage in the middle with the audience seated either side of them.  I think there are some really interesting opportunities for people to be creative with the space.

Slamseys Barley Barn, Essex

Some of the other ideas we’ve had are to do cinema screenings of classic films with a pop-up G&T bar – Slamseys Gin, obviously! And what else – photoshoots and filming. So many ideas!

Everyone who comes into the barn has their own ideas with what they would do with it and many find it a really inspiring space, so who knows what we’ll be doing this time next year and what our plans will be for the year after that.  It’s times like this that I sometimes wish I could look into the future to see what ends up happening, but then I suppose the fun of it is the journey – I can’t wait!

Slamseys Barley Barn, Essex

The year ahead

It’s that time of year when my lists of things to do are rapidly growing and I don’t seem to be ticking anything off – other than the one that says ‘list everything that needs doing this year’.  Now that Slamseys Art has been open for a solid ten months, things are really going to go up a gear.  We already have lots of new workshops scheduled for the coming months, with a strong focus on different taxidermy and printing workshops.

I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of several new crafty packs, ingredients and equipment so we can add a few new ideas to the schedule (lampshade making, DIY lip balms or fabric printing anyone?).  More excitingly though, the plans are coming together for the Big Exhibition of the year – ‘Taxidermy and the Natural World’ as part of our Art Month in June.

The plan is to have some beautiful taxidermy specimens from our very own taxidermist Elle Kaye, as well as artworks which look at the world around us.  We’ve got plans to link up with several other venues and organisations, as well as a dedicated sculpture paddock & lots more.  I’m hoping to keep building on from last year’s modest art trail – I am excited!

As always I’m very open to suggestions about what people want to learn, so please get in touch with any suggestions!

One of the wreaths from last summer's Art Trail has come out of its hiding place now that the leaves have all gone
One of the wreaths from last summer’s Art Trail has come out of its hiding place now that the leaves have all gone


Wild Rabbit Taxidermy weekend workshop at Slamseys, April 2015
Wild Rabbit Taxidermy weekend workshop at Slamseys, April 2015