Gillian Collins  Artist

Cranleigh Mens Shed

I was asked to set up a Men's Shed for Cranleigh as a Social Inclusion project for Cranleigh Arts Centre.  Men's Sheds are places of safety where men can get together to socialise, share tools and resources and work on practical projects.  Members are usually older retired men who find that the welcoming and inclusive environment offerred by a Men's Shed helps to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness in later life.  The Cranleigh Shed opened in April 2017 and is thriving with some 20 regular members.

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1. Information Open Day for the Cranleigh Mens Shed

2. Tools donated by the public to a Men's Shed

Colour at Cranleigh

The first project as part of the Cranleigh Arts Centre Social Inclusion Initiative started in February 2016.  A therapeutic 'drop-in'  colouring session was set up for an hour one morning a week.  Although initially slow to establish the sessions have been running each week for almost 18 months and have a small regular core group with others who 'drop in and out'.  The sessions are free of charge and colouring sheets and materials are available for those who do not wish to bring their own.  All ages are welcome.

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1 and 2  Colourers at a 'Colour at Cranleigh' session

Knit and Natter at Cranleigh

Following the succcess of the Colouring sessions it was decided to set up a second morning session aimed at a different group of local people.  While Colouring attracted mainly women in the 35+ age group, the Knit and Natter session targetted older women.  These sessions were an instand success and regularly attract 8 to 10 women from all walks of life with a shared interest in knitting and crochet.  To help the group 'bond' the first sessions were devoted to the knitting a 'Twiddlemitts' ( a special knitted sleeve which has been proven to have therapeutic uses in the treatment of demetia patients), these were then sent to the Surrey Royal County Hospital Dementia Unit.  A second project asked for knitted and crocheted flowers to form part of a  display for the 'Florilegium' exhibition in 2016, dolls for orphaned children in Croatia; and the ladies are currently knitting blanket squares and baby hats for the local hospital premature baby unit.

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1 and 2 Knitters and Crocheters at Knit and Natter.

3. Twiddlemitts

The Best Years of Our Lives Reminiscence Project

This project was initiated to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cranleigh Arts Centre in 2015.  The building in which the Centre is housed used to be as primary school and was purpose built in 1845.  I placed a call for interviewees in the local press and over 50 people (including one former staff member) responded and subsequently came to be interviewed  about their time at the Cranleigh Primary School before it moved to new premises in 1966.  The earliest memories came from someone who attended in the 1930's and the most recent memories from someone who was a pupil on the last day before it shut it's doors and moved to a new site.  interviews were conducted mainly in small groups of 3-5 people and were all informal, allowing people to be led by the general conversation.  The whole has provided a unique insight into what life was like as a child in a small village school, with particular emphasis on the WW2 years.  A celebratory Tea Party was held at the end of the project with many people rekindling old friendships. the entire project has been accessioned into the Surrey History Archive in Woking where it can be accessed by appointment.

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1 and 2 The Best Years of Our Lives Reminiscence Project end of project Tea Party

The Forget-Me-Not Project, Royal Surrey County Hospital

As part of a wider project carried out in 2008 to brighten up a side ward for dementia patients who had sufferred a physical trauma I painted a mural on the walls.  The ward was first repainted in a sunny yellow and the mural which was designed as 4 panels depicting the four seasons was then added.  The floral theme was chosen as it was felt to represent the passage of time and the cycle of life, as well as being calming for dementia patients who can find imagery of landscapes, animals or people upsetting.


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1- Spring and Summer

2 - Autumn and Winter

Mural in Dementia Ward at Royal Surrey County Hospital 2008

A Bevy of Larks at Leith Hill Place (National Trust) 15 August 2018 to 28 October 2018

A commissioned piece created for the National Trust property Leith Hill Place in Surrey.  The brief was to create an artwork that had been inspired by the house and/or it's owners/surroundings.  The resulting 6 wall panels recreate the entire music score for Ralph Vaughan Williams' symphony "The Lark Ascending" where each musical note is represented by a tiny paper bird, the whole rising and falling as the music follows the ethereal sound of the Lark song.

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Left: A Bevy of Larks, installation view in the entrance hall at Leith Hill Place, Surrey

Far left: A Bevy of Larks, detail from installation view

Click HERE to see more project work