By Kaz Trinder
Frimhurst Enterprises was set up Pauline Robinson, her daughter Katy who has Downs Syndrome was the inspiration behind the enterprise.
Frimhurst house is a large Victorian building, set in seven acres of beautiful park and woodlands, where adults with learning disabilities are offered a supportive environment to develop independence and work related skills. The adults run their own café, look after the gardens and do the house keeping.
Wednesday is set aside for everyone to unleash their creative side, in the morning they enjoy drama and dance, rehearsing for their current production, which they perform in front of an audience.
Frimhurst has its own lovely big art studio, so this is where I come along in the afternoon, we get creative with all forms of activities and projects. There are 8 adults in the group as well as a great team of support workers. The class starts at 1,30 and ends at 4pm so plenty of creative time.
At Frimhurst Creative expression through the arts is especially important to to help members of the group to express their feelings.
Nearly all members of the group feel deeply about what others are feeling. Only just this week during the art class one of the young ladies, while cuddling Bob the dog, (who often comes along with me to the class) was reduced to tears whilst she was listening to a sad song playing in the background, one of her friends realised this, so, made her a lovely, bright colourful picture to cheer her up. Within a couple of minutes she was smiling again and carried on with her own art work. This to me is the power of art.
I always plan in advance – I slightly adapt the activity from my main stream art class to suit the skills and needs of the adults at Frimhurst.
Taking along something visual for them to see helps them get them started. When Working with a variety of messy materials clay, painting, collage some of the students are reluctant to get in a mess or become dirty or simple don’t like the sensation of having sticky hands. I try to encourage them as much as I can to give it a go without fussing over them, simple saying ‘you can wash your hands after’.
One of the things I have really noticed is that the learners seem to enjoy projects which have repeating, intricate patterns or shapes built up, for example, cross stitching and tissue paper mosaic. Recently two of the girls spent over a month colouring beautiful jigsaw hearts, then building a pattern around them. Their patience in doing this was second to none.
Each person has their own special art/scrap book, as sometimes they like to just chill out and do simple pictures, perhaps cut things from magazines to glue onto the pages or just fill it with lists of the names of their favourite songs or bands.
At the end of the session everyone mucks in and assist in clearing away. Some reluctantly!
Move over Broadway
The guys have the great benefit from regular drama classes which lead to putting on their own production three times a year to invited guests.
Recently Frimhurst enterprises preformed The Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Yep you guessed it! All the scenery, props and costumes are made and created in the art studio. A list is made up of all the things required, which often grows as time passes. So, for a few weeks before the show, the studio slowly gets filled with tons of cardboard, for props and masks, old sheets for drop cloths, nothing gets thrown away.
Everyone joins in together in creating and producing the scenery, sets and props, making masks, costumes and bringing the characters to life. Even the programmes are created and coloured in by hand. We spend a couple of months getting everything ready, but the good news is… we have so much fun!
When getting ready for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the art studio became a winter wonderland full of weird and wonderful things; a lion and a wolf head, icicles, wardrobe doors, Snowflakes.
The sense of achievement on the opening night was simply fabulous. I sat in the audience watching and wanted to shout out from the roof tops how proud I was of them all. I have the best job in the world!
Art has always been a huge part of my life, it is as essential as the air I that breathe. However, having my children at a young age I never had any formal training until 6 years ago. I enrolled on a part time 2-year art and design Foundation diploma at Andover college. Here I gained an award for most up and coming textile surface designer. I have a lot to be grateful to the college for, as it was here that I was diagnosed with dyslexia.
I never really thought I would do much with the subject, I simply wanted to learn new ideas.
However, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to keep going, so it was just a natural progression to go on to do a two year creative arts foundation degree at Salisbury college, followed by a BA honours top up degree at Bath Spa university, printmaking being my main interest at this time. Though I must admit I did have a little anxiety about being an older student who would shhhh don’t tell anyone, I would be 50 when I graduated.
I now have my own studio called Out of the Box, based in Andover inside Saint Pauls church and community centre.
From here I run classes for all ages from babies who can sit unaided, preschool, after school art classes, including children with Asperger’s and Autism, and during the holidays I run workshops for children and adults.
As a freelance artist I travel around to schools in Oxfordshire, I work for the charity ADT Forth World and with adult’s special needs / learning difficulties at Frimhurst Enterprises in Surrey.
With so many different groups, I seem to spend most of days researching for new ideas or cutting things out and prepping for my younger artists. This is where a dozen pairs of hand would be very useful!
I like to make sure I set aside time to do commissioned paintings and if I’m lucky, even my own work.