The abirdabode exhibition launch, a very busy day at Gallery Oldham!

What do you call a group of Art Birdbox Artists and friends? An imagination, a creativity, an achievement, an excitement?

 Whatever you choose to call them there was a huge gathering of artists and friends at Gallery Oldham on Saturday 14th March for the launch of the abirdabode exhibition.

Between 1pm and 4pm over 200 visitors flocked to the gallery to see the art bird boxes, meet the art bird box artists, have a chat and to show off their creations to family and friends. (Apparently this is the best attendance for an exhibition launch at the Gallery ever! Thank you T-Jay for clicking people in!)

Along with the Art Birdbox Artists some of the young people who decorated Art Birds dropped in to see the show and to find their creations in the Art Bird Flock. We were honoured that amongst the Art Bird Flock were hidden eleven very special realistic Art Birds created by Gordon Haigh especially for the show!

Putting the exhibition together took a lot of hard work and dedication and wouldn’t have happened without the support of Joy, Ian, Steve and Andy from Gallery Oldham – thank you all. Thank you also to Oldham Arts Development, especially Annie for your support (and fabulous bird dresses) and Shonagh for believing in the project (and handing out bird seed!).

And an especially big thank you to all the amazing Art Bird Artists who took part in the project, your hard work, creativity and good humour have been an inspiration to us and to everyone who has visited the show. It was great to see you at the opening and to show you how fantastic your work looked in the gallery.

 We hope you are all as proud of your achievements as we are!

The exhibition is open to the public until 2nd May so there’s still plenty of time to visit!

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Busy, busy bird box building with Barrier Breakers

Not much time left to get the Barrier Breakers Bird Boxes built and so it was a busy, busy session.

Detailed painting continued apace and adding unique individual design touches to each art bird box kept everyone occupied. Michael proved he could paint just as well as he could cut out with the background designs for his Jurassic bird box, Brandon proved a skilled scroll saw operator and helped Adam cut out poppies for his WW1 memorial box. Katie’s love birds box looked fantastic and (Hi) Lee showed his delicate drawing skills in the decoration of his United shield whilst Nathan painted a lovely football pitch on the front of his rival City box.

Another Mane attraction was Sophie adding a wool lion’s mane to her cowardly bird box (we hope the birds don’t use it all for nest building or we may end up with a bald cowardly lion). Leah worked hard to paint all twelve Rugby Super League logos onto rugby balls to decorate her bird box (well all except for Hull Kingston Rovers…) and there’s now also a secret Lewis Hamilton hiding around one of the bird boxes to look out for!

One highlight of the evening was Kash making the tremendous achievement of using both the bandsaw and scroll saw to cut his Polish shield, despite initially being very nervous of the saws he persevered and afterwards said it was ‘easy peasy’. Great work Kash!

We were also thrilled that Greg said he could see the different personalitiles of the group coming out through the bird boxes they had created which is perfect. Creative engagement of this type should allow for individual artistic expression and that fact that Greg, who knows the group really well could see this in the work created really touched us and made us even more proud to be part of the groups achievements.

Barrier Breakers have green fingers (and red and blue and yellow…)

Our second visit to the brilliant Barrier Breakers and it was time to get painting, once we’d finished construction of the nest boxes that is…

Building the roofs for the diamond shaped boxes was made easier by using a specially constructed roof jig to hold the pieces at the required 90degrees whilst screwing them together and once the final pieces of the boxes were fixed  and all the roofs completed painting began.

Base coats where swiftly applied in a multitude of colours and then planning for details and top coats was made whilst the paint dried. Everyone enjoyed choosing colours and planning the look of their nest boxes; Nathan and (Hi) Lee are working in collaboration to produce rival Man Utd & Man City bird boxes so painted a base coat of green to be detailed as a football pitch next week. Leah also chose a green base for her Rugby Team theme, Kyle and Michael chose light blue as a sky effect and Sophie went for a lovely rich lion golden brown.

We were also thrilled to welcome new Barrier Breaker Katie to the project and she proved a dab hand at bird box making and in no time had her nest box ready for her beautiful  love birds theme design.

Some of the group will be cutting out 3D elements to enhance their designs so there was also scroll saw and band saw training to take part in! Kash took over as official group photographer for the night and took some great pictures (as well as a few selfies!).

All in all it was a very busy session but once again the group all worked together brilliantly (especially Nathan and Lewis who took on wandering assistants roles and helped everyone finish their making) and achieved a tremendous amount and had a great and really creative time.

Barrier Breakers Build Brilliant Bird Boxes.

The New Year kicked off with a bang for abirdabode as Barrier Breakers joined the project. Barriers Breakers is a forum and support group for young people with additional needs and disabilities that meets on Monday evenings at Oldham Civic Centre as part of Oldham Youth Council.

With Barrier Breakers we wanted to maintain the abirdabode ethos of being as hands on as possible with the making of the nest boxes. As we knew this would be a challenge for some of the group, we ran a quick intro and training session for the support workers first. We covered how the bird boxes would be made from the kit of parts, how to use the drills and tool kit and general safety. Using the drills was a new experience for the team and there were a few worried expressions and some trepidation as to whether the young people were going to be able to manage. Jacqui and I were determined that the session would be as hands on as possible and, with Greg Cookson’s support and belief in what we were doing, the team agreed to go for it just as the young people arrived.

The Barrier Breakers members had been working on designs for their bird boxes over the past few weeks and had prepared a presentation. Their ideas are varied and exciting and will produce some amazing art birdboxes, which will include a Lewis Hamiliton F1 inspired nest box, a Giving Nature A Home nest box with butterfly and flower decoration and nest boxes featuring dinosaurs, lions and Rugby teams amongst others…

Following the presentation each participant chose which design their box would be; a traditional rectangular box or a more contemporary diamond design. Then the making began…

The group members exceeded our expectations with what they achieved, every single member of the group managed to drill pilot holes in the timber sections of the boxes and then proceeded to screw them together! A few of the group were nervous of using the drills at first but with careful encouragement and familiarising them with the tool kit step by step they overcame their concerns and by the end of the session were using the drills with great gusto and huge smiles.

Michael, Brandon, Nathan, (Hi-) Lee and Mubaarak proved absolute stars assisting other group members with the construction of their bird boxes and their confidence, patience and skills were fantastic.

Despite some questions over which practical creative activities would work for the group our initial session proved what they can achieve and the bird boxes will genuinely be their own work and will be something to be truly proud of.

At the end of the session one of the youth workers admitted she’d been worried all day about the activity but was amazed and actually close to tears over how well the group had done and how much they had got out of it…

Michael made a brilliant comment that despite doing some woodwork at school he’d learnt more in the last 2 hours than during 5 years at school! This alongside the looks of amazement on parent’s faces when they arrived at the end of the evening and saw the practical work going on and the fact that none of the group wanted to leave makes this one of the best creative sessions for the abirdabode project so far!