Let’s All Get Hoodwinked!

Curious Hoodwinked Banner

We are so excited to finally be able to reveal our Curious collaborative Hoodwinked Robin ‘The Green Heart of the City’ (we’ve nicknamed him Bertie).  Painting Bertie was truly a labour of love and we thoroughly enjoyed being based at the Intu Broadmarsh artists’ base and particularly meeting fellow Hoodwinked artists (hey Lois Cordelia, Adam Pekr, Mrs Maker, SMALLKID, sponsors and the Nottingham City Council team who worked so hard behind the scenes.  Members of the public called by on a regular basis, intrigued to observe the artists in action and have a sneaky peak at the army of Hoodwinked Robins ahead of their July launch onto the streets of Nottingham.

We were delighted to attend the launch event for artists and sponsors on 5th July at Nottingham Castle and enjoyed wandering around the 33 Robins all together for the first time, appreciating the fabulous skill, time and effort that has gone into their creation.

In the dead of night, the 33 Hoodwinked Robins were carefully set in place all around our city and on Saturday 7th July, the Hoodwinked Trail was declared to be officially open! Trail maps are available from various points around the city, including the Nottingham Tourist Information Centre and of course, Curious Nottingham!

We are so grateful to our sponsors, Cavalry Design, who have gone beyond their initial sponsorship of the design and have been incredibly supportive throughout the creative process – big love, people!   All of the Hoodwinked Robins will be auctioned at the end of the Hoodwinked Trail and the money raised will be donated to the amazing Nottinghamshire Hospice!

Curious Hoodwinked Robin

So, here he is, based on the ‘Green Man’ of legend, celebrating the green heart of our city.  Nottingham’s 50 Green Flag designated parks and open spaces are represented in his lacy wings.  All of these fabulous green spaces combine to create essential ‘green corridors’ to help bees and other pollinating insects navigate their way round our city.  Our Curious? studios at Sneinton Market Avenues and the heritage of the area, including Green’s Mill and the fruit and vegetables of the traditional market are depicted at his feet and if you look closely, you can spot a scattering of Notts Rocks (why not paint some Notts Rocks of your own for strangers to discover in our parks?)

Curious Hoodwinked Sneinton Market

Rest assured, we will be back to chat about Hoodwinked again over the summer (the Hoodwinked Trail lasts until 30th September 2018), not least because lovely Jess painted TWO more Hoodwinked Robins – one sponsored by Gately plc ‘Carnival Celebrations’ and a specially commissioned one for the Nottinghamshire Hospice Charity, ‘Hands of Hope’.  Photos to follow very soon!

Thanks to the fabulous Tracey Whitefoot Photography and Richard of Cavalry Design for these photographs.  Don’t forget to follow the Hoodwinked Trail and see if you can spot Bertie on your Hoodwinked adventure!  Happy Hoodwinked hunting!

~ Manton x

Curious Hoodwinked Green Flag Parks  Curious Hoodwinked Robin

Curious Hoodwinked Bees  Curious Hoodwinked Full Length

Let there be (more) light

What a joy Nottingham’s Light Night Festival is! Every year for the past 11 years, for one bracing Friday evening in February, families descend on the city to enjoy the illuminations – from fire juggling to lasers, projections onto public buildings to lantern parades, it’s a feast for the senses and the light shows are complemented with musical accompaniment and warming food and drinks.

This year, Team Curious took part in two distinct halves. We were commissioned by Nottingham City Council to send our Curious Paraphernalia Perambulator out on its first public outing and it was a proper perambulation across Nottingham’s fair city, entertaining the public on the way! We must have stopped a hundred times for photographs and videos – when we finally arrived at the historic Brewhouse Yard there was barely time to set up and folks were in and at the zoetrope, kaleidescopes and stereoscope! It was a joy to see the wonder on the faces of everyone from tiny tots to significantly older individuals as they hand-cranked the zoetrope and the lace-inspired pierced pop-up lanterns cast multicoloured shadows across the vegetable patch and warmed up the very chilly Light Night evening.

Curious Perambulator

Meanwhile, back at Curious HQ on Sneinton Market Avenues, the Peacock Parade was in full effect – teaming up with Burt and Joyce, City Arts’ magical magpies and drummers and wonderfully lit carnival costumes from our neighbours ABC Dance School and EMCCAN, the Curious Peacock led our lantern-wielding friends on a parade around the Avenues and the outdoor Sneinton Market area, delighting the gathered crowds.

It really was a fabulous night all over the city, but there was a very special feel to Light Night at Sneinton Market Avenues this year, with a light show, live music, crafts and street food market, the tenants’ windows decorated with shadow puppets, lanterns and lights, workshops, cabaret and of course, the Peacock Parade – it just shows you what can happen when a community comes together.

No doubt, the theme of light will continue as we tiptoe amongst the remaining snowdrops into the first days of Spring…

~ Manton x

It’s all about the lights (especially the one at the end of the tunnel!)

It’s been all about the lights over the last few weeks; Lantern making, light switch ons, super moons and fairy light adornments. I love lights in the darkness. They’re magical and I sometimes forget this in the busyness that is preparing and creating community projects, public events and welcoming workshop spaces, as well as trying to plan festivities with family and friends.

christmas lights
All the twinkling lights.

But the light is on at the end of the tunnel, we’re speeding past the projects, ticking off the tasks and I’m looking forward to wallowing in the soothing glow of some ‘down time’ over the festive period (preferably with a cosy duvet and a glass of something else soothing!)

I hope you also reach the end of the tunnel safely, remember to take a moment to gaze into the candle flame, lose yourself in fairy light or wonder at the moon before taking the magic with you as a shield against any excessive festive excitements.

with love Jess x

What You Doing ‘Ere?

Curious what you doing ere

I’ll tell you what we’re doing ‘ere!  Having the cockles of our hearts warmed by lovely strangers (and not so strangers) sending in their ‘A Curious Stitch in Time’ contributions for our collaborative horologically-inspired patchwork panel!

As you may recall from Jess’s blog, we visited the beautiful British Horological Institute Museum in Oxton at their ‘Fall Back’ open day on 29 October this year. We set a challenge to visitors to the event and subsequently to our The Craft & The Curious drop-in session crew on Tuesday evenings, members of Nottingham City Women’s Institute and students on my 55+ Mixed Media Course at Nottingham Playhouse, to render a time-related piece of stitchery on the vintage fabrics we provided.

It continues to be an absolute joy to receive the submissions back both in person and by post (another one has just been pressed into my hand by our Postie, as I type!) … and the inspiration behind these mini artworks is moving, humorous and exciting!

A Curious Stitch in Time

‘Time waits for no man, so live, love and be happy’ – “Only seems like yesterday since my whole life was ahead of me and now (at 69 years old) looking back, where did those years go?”

‘Retirement’ – “The luxury of not setting the alarm. The ability to sleep past 6.00am.”

‘Time to ride’ – “I’m optimistic that we are on the cusp of a cycling revolution, moving away from our dependency on other forms of transport. Pump up your tyres and oil your chain… It’s TIME TO RIDE!”

It may seem like a small thing, but it renews one’s faith in humanity to have promises kept and we are so grateful to everyone who has pledged to create their own ‘A Curious Stitch in Time’ and will be even more grateful when they pop through the letterbox!  There’s still time to take part – you have until 5 December 2017 to return your completed piece – details here… BHI – A Curious Stitch in Time – How To – then we need to start stitching these beauties together to create the finished panel.

Thank you, friends.

~ Manton x

A Stitch in Time

Time is moving on, seasons are flowing one to another and there’s a shift of pace. As summer finally succumbs to mists and the golden glow of leaves before a lowering sun Curious got busy digging into pumpkins and delving into a world of clocks.

We spent the Halloween weekend down at Nottingham’s Market Square working at the City Council’s new event where, along with Artist Annette Waterfield, we helped the public to carve their own splendid pumpkins. There was much scooping of slimy innards, prodding of holes and sawing of shapes to create an amazing array of fantastical carved characters and designs, hopefully all scary enough to see off the Halloween spirits as they slip between our worlds.

After the hustle and bustle of the Halloween Fair our visit to the British Horological Institute at Upton near Southwell, for their Time Lines: Fall Back event, was a very different way of marking the shift in time as the clocks went back. Their collection of timepieces, volunteers knowledge and stunning venue were just wonderful, as was the cake from the adjoining tea rooms! The Museum has been doing great work in opening up the collection to the public through exciting events such as this one which was connected to the National Big Draw project and it was great to see all ages engaging with time keeping in a variety of creative ways.


Curious were happy to contribute with ‘A Stitch in Time’ activity where people could use simple stitches to add time related stories, memories or decorations to a patch of fabric. Once completed these patches will be joined together to create a patchwork of time and returned to the BHI museum for future work. It’s not too late to join in with your own stitched time piece (instructions here BHI – A Curious Stitch in Time – How To ) or follow the panel’s progress on our Facebook page


We really enjoyed our time with the pumpkins and clocks, it was good too to pause briefly and enjoy the view out of the big bay window (we could get very used to running activities in a ballroom with the chiming of clocks and succulent cake!) and we’ll hold onto that fleeting time slip as we now start building up to the excitement of the coming festive winter season.

How things change

Well here we are. This will be the first Blog post I’ve ever written, not something I ever foresaw myself doing, I am after all a visual artist not a wordsmith. I am neither witty, clever nor a deep thinker (or at least in any way that I can articulate) and I am feeling my way through this new artform, so bear with me. I’ll mostly be looking at visual stimuli, I can’t help myself but hopefully we’ll have some fun together along the way.

In terms of Curious and how we three individual artists have been planning, building and settling together into our new studios and creative business it’s been a fascinating transformation. I only realised and took time to step back and consider it when I was looking through our Curious images the other day. It made me laugh how much our physical spaces have changed around us in the studios over this last year.

Below is what made me do a double take, how our own work space has grown from a sparse white box to a riot of colour (and at times slight creative confusion!) I love how our personalities peep through with our accumulation of favourite objects and works in progress. In my case I think there’s a strong element of ‘nesting’ involved, a gathering of inspiring tit-bits and pleasing materials which I must now use and not just contemplate!

We moved in during early summer of last year and have been shifting things around ever since. There has been much juggling of materials and equipment, sourcing of work tables (fortuitously found in a nearby skip and re-purposed), chairs, coat stands, storage systems and amazing light fittings (as it does get quite atmospherically dark when the sun goes down!) to create two practical but stimulating workshop spaces.

One of the biggest transformations has been in our middle workshop which by default became our main store room for a while. You so easily forget what it was like when moving and just how many boxes and random items you’ve collected over time that needs sifting though and relocating. We now have a satisfyingly ordered collection of boxes, draws and jars full of magical crafting items along one wall and the cosiest of corners by the windows where people mysteriously disappear to for long quiet spells.

So we find ourselves after our second busy summer taking a moment to breathe, adjust and customise the workshop spaces once more, responding to the increasing range of art and craft activities we’re lucky enough to be facilitating through our amazing tutors. With a well-tested practical infrastructure we can finally start adding more ‘Curious’ touches and along with our growing Curious family, have fun embellishing our new working home.

How things change, and keep changing, creativity never stays still. It feels good to have established a comfortable base from which we can all continue to keep transforming, exploring and learning.

And just keep an eye on me, make sure I’m doing some work and don’t just keep adding that extra bit of ‘not strictly necessary but oh so wanted creative clutter’ to my new found nest.

I’ll keep you posted
Jess x

Back to School!

September Workshops

You can almost smell the anticipation of ‘back to school’ time, but why should the kids have all the fun?!  It’s ‘back to Curious? school’ time here (it’s like school, except there’s tea and cake, laughing in class is positively encouraged, everyone smells lovely and there’s no detention!)

We’re up to the gunnells with fabulous new skills to learn, with workshops in Silk Painting, Willow Weaving, Stained Glass, Wet Felting, Kiln Fired Enamelling, Printmaking, Copper Embossing, Lino Cutting, Paper Clay, Free Machine Embroidery and more sessions being added all the time.  Did you enjoy your taster workshop and want to take things further?  We have courses coming up to expand your skills in Stained Glass, Felt Making and Embellishment, Silk Painting and of course our ever-popular Ceramics courses (get in quick, the next one starts this Tuesday!) … Sign up now and treat yourself to a creative boost – you deserve it!

September Workshops at Curious

~ Sarah M x

Needs more glitter!

Feathered headdress

Never have so many had so much fun with feathers, sequins and glitter!  We’ve spent the last week putting the finishing touches to the brightly coloured costumes of the Baianas, to join the City Arts Carnival Troupe at Nottingham’s Carribean Carnival, which took place on Sunday, 20th August 2017.

The ladies of Nottingham City WI created some fabulous headdresses and were joined by some creative volunteers from City Arts at our Curious? studios to complete the gloriously glittered outfits!  There are loads more photographs of our preparations and the Carnival itself on our Facebook page and rest assured, we’ll be back doing it bigger, better and with more glitter again next year!

Headdress making   Making costumes

Perfect Pots

Pottery in the sunshine

Another happy band of new potters completed their beginners’ class in the sunshine this week!  If you would like to get your hands dirty and join the ‘Throw Down’ in the heart of the city, pop over to our What’s On page and sign up to the next 5 Week Introduction to Ceramics Course.  Sandy Bywater is our resident expert in all things clay and will guide through all of the basic techniques you need to kickstart your pottery obsession!