The Bluebell Arts Project has been an integral part of community life in the Gasyard Centre for years.
The arts project has helped people of all ages from right across the city to explore themes such as heritage, family life and sexuality through the medium of art.
Gasyard Development Trust Arts Co-ordinator, Fiona McGonagle, believes that the new programme for the next 12 months is Bluebell’s most exciting to date and said that she was excited about the introduction of some of the new courses.
“Last year we had six courses on offer but I am glad to say that this year we have been able to increase it to 11,” she said.
“We are still running our Craft Circle, it’s one of our long standing events and we have big plans for the group during Derry’s year as City of Culture.
“The women meet up here every week to make quilts and other accessories but during the City of Culture year, we plan on creating a yurt and taking it to Guildhall Square to showcase the work.”
Carmel Gallagher attended the opening day of this year’s Craft Circle on Thursday.
Carmel, who works for Afasic, a charity that works with children with speech and language problems, said that she wants to use the experience of the Craft Circle to help her interact more effectively with the children.
“An organisation such as Bluebell Arts is so important to the wider community of Derry,” said Carmel.
“Not only does it offer people the chance to learn new skills like sewing and quilting, but it also gives them the skills to share with other people what the have learned.”
Paddy Quinn is a long time member of the Craft Circle and said that in the past she has been involved in other Bluebell Arts Project courses.
“There literally is something for everyone here. It’s also a great place to meet new friends, learn new skills and generally have a bit of fun.
“We were trying to think of a name for the group of women who come here every week and we joked with ‘The Chatty Crafters’. Our facilitator, Maeve Gallagher, thinks we should be called ‘The Craft Warriors’,” she smiled.
The Bluebell Arts Project programme also includes a new course called ‘Art in Box’. Fiona explained what it’s all about.
“In this project we will be working in partnership with the Men’s Methodist City Mission in Crawford Square.
“During the eight week workshop schedule the men will work with an artist who will help the men to create individual ‘Dioramas’ (a three dimensional art sculpture).
“The workshops will culminate in a large scale mixed media gallery that will be installed temporarily at the Gasyard to coincide with Gasyard Wall Feile 2013.”
Other courses include a scrap metal workshop with well known Derry artist Maurice Harron, creative writing and fused glass workshops and and children’s music workshops.
“There’s plenty to do and I really can’t wait for it to be up and running,” said Fiona happily.
“There are courses for people of all ages and we want to hear from as many people as possible from right across the city.
“We also have a workshop called ‘Empowering the Artist’ which looks at the needs of the artist when facilitating - it’s hoped that this one will help us to deliver an even better programme of events.”
She added: “Next year is Derry’s year as City of Culture and Bluebell Arts Project wants to be right in the middle of it - there’s so much talent and things going on here so it’s only right that the people involved in the courses get to show off their work next year - it’s going to be great.”
For further information on the new Bluebell Arts Project programme or if you are an artist and are interested in facilitating contact Fiona McGonagle at the Gasyard on 028 7126 2812.
The Bluebell Arts Project is funded by Arts Council N.I. in partnership with the Gasyard Development Trust.