The Birchwood Painters are a group of disabled artists living at Scope’s residential service in a semi-rural location in Chesham. Their work is being showcased at the Bucks Open Studios 2013 alongside the work of other artists and makers in the county.
Bucks Open Studios
Birchwood Painters Open Studios are an opportunity to make public the talent of the residents and acknowledge them in a wider arts community. The goal is to carry on producing extraordinary work and place the work of these artists in a contemporary arts context.
Four years ago, community artist Anita Osborne was invited to come to Scope’sBirchwood service and give an art class. In exploratory art sessions, the residents tried various painting techniques. The first year was characterised by introducing art materials that best suited the needs of the artists. For that, the Jonny Rhythm Foundation has been supporting the group with funding initiatives in covering their art materials as well as other fees that have allowed the group to be part of a wider arts community.
“With the painting came this extraordinary outpouring of themselves and they have just been amazing,” Anita Osborne
The right equipment
There have been other institutions that have contributed to this initiative with equipment. The prototype easel, in Tina’s picture above, is fantastic piece of kit that has improved the access that the artists have to the canvases. Tina was drawing with it lying across her tummy so that she could get to every corner. Another great thing is that with this easel the artist can still have their talk boards on their laps so that they don’t lose their voices whilst they are painting. This easel enables and empowers the artists. With the right equipment in place there are no boundaries.
The art sessions
At the moment, there are three people that facilitate the weekly sessions. Their role is to run around mixing paint, washing brushes while the artists are doing entirely individual self-motivated focused painting. Brian is one of the most recent residents to join the group. He has been with the service since he was 18 and he just turned 80. He didn’t want to paint, so he requested some pencils. His first piece, a drawing that he produced in his room, took him eight weeks to complete. Another artist, Mark Urwin, has developed a great interest in History of Art. The patron from the Jonny Rhythm foundation, an artist herself, has been providing him with tutoring sessions on Tuesday afternoons.