My name is Jacqui Wicks and I’m the lead artist/curator/big cheese/lady mayoress of ossett and general dogsbody responsible for getting us all into the Sheep Shaped Hole that is Flock To Ossett. If you’ve found this blog you’ve more than likely heard of Ossett Observer and Flock To Ossett already and how a handful of artists, residents, mums, dads, thinkers and doers have taken matters into their own hands in the quest for a more creative town. If this is your first visit, have a gander at some of the other entries, you’ll soon get the hang of it.
6 months ago, a handful of us met through a ‘tweet-up’ in a coffee shop in Ossett. The proprietor Mark Ellerker is a game sort, the sort who will open his doors to folks who want to meet at his gaff , chew the fat, drink coffee, eat cake, make plans, scheme and generally DO stuff.
27 people came and from that meeting the idea that we could all do more, make more, bring more creative stuff to the town was born. We all chatted on late into the evening, made new friends, shared ideas and I came away with idea that we might just have the talent and will to do something in Ossett. A few days after the tweet up, something landed in my inbox, it was a myth, specially created by Helen Rhodes, taking her inspiration from the town’s heritage and motto she had gone home and written something beautiful, something on which we have built a whole project.
That’s all the motivation I needed, someone giving of their time and skill and imagination because they wanted to, because they had something to say, something to offer . A hastily gathered consortium of lovelies was formed and we made an application to Arts Council England for some money to develop our ideas. 3 months later we’d secured Grants For The Arts funding and were on our way to making a change in Ossett. An Arts Intervention no less.
Some of the things we’ve done so far have blown my mind and we’re only half way through our programme. Through the Arts Council Funding we’ve been able to employ Faceless Arts to deliver free arts workshops to all 9 Junior Schools in Ossett. That’s FREE!!! Faceless Arts are tremendous people. Tony, Bev, Charlie and their freelance artists are JUST the type of folks you want working in your community, making real your dreams of a town filled with brightly coloured sheep and smiling faces. When artists you commission are as excited as you are about your seemingly bonkers idea you know you’ve made a good choice.
The tweet up also delivered unto us the amazingly talented Antony Shephard, graphic designer, print artist, husband and dad. Have you seen our artwork? From the badges, the flyers, the thing of beauty that is the Ossett Observer, to the limited edition Letterpress prints he has designed for us. This man’s work makes my heart sing.
Lady Cassandra, Queen of The Crochet and all round splendid human, came to us with dreams of wrapping the town in wool, like the Christo of the Heavy Woollen District she’s spent hour upon hour of her time making, creating, cajoling and sitting patiently in shop windows showing folks how to Hook with Joy. With Ossett resident and business owner, Louise Austerfield, Cassandra has planned a tremendous secret for Ossett to be unveiled on June 30th. Over 60 knitters and crocheters are beavering away for us. Folks are inspired to do, to make and to share their skills and this makes us smile.
We’ve already taken part in Gawthorpe Maypole Procession with Yew Tree Youth Theatre acting as our street vendors and promotions team for the Ossett Observer Distribution Service. In addition to the procession, we’ve delivered workshops at The Brickhouse and Trinity Church with a combined total of over 80 participants. We’ve started a Ukulele Club and trekked over the hills to Holmfirth on a Club Trip to play music to the good folks of the Holme Valley. We’ve had secret socials for wild women and wool and there’s yet more to come.
As I type, I am about to embark upon a 14hr crochetathon. Lady Cassandra Richardson will attempt without the aid of a safety net to crochet around a bicycle. This venture will commence at 2am Wednesday 23rd May and will end when the bike is covered or when we all fall asleep, whichever is the soonest.
We don’t know yet who might come … it doesn’t matter. I’ll be there to accompany Cassandra on my ukulele. Mark Ellerker is once again opening his shop for us to serve coffee and tea and share his hospitality. What’s utterly heartwarming about the whole experience is that already, we’ve created a culture of ‘Yes that’s a great idea, let’s do it’ … so excited at the prospect of having a go, getting involved, being passionate about ideas and creativity and goodwill are we becoming in Ossett that we just get on with it.
Join us, you’ll be most welcome.