Creative Communities project is up and running

Swarthmore Education Centre’s Creative Communities project is now well underway, with the first two 6-week blocks of creative workshops successfully delivered and some amazing artwork has been produced.

This Lottery funded project is taking place in Belle Isle, Middleton, Holbeck and Hunslet until Summer 2025 and aims to celebrate “all things South Leeds”.

Workshops have taken place at St Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck and Cranmore and Raylands Community Centre in Belle Isle. Swarthmore would like to thank Holbeck Together and Health for All for their support and hospitality. Thank you also to Holbeck Together for their delicious baked potatoes and the Greedy Monkey (Belle Isle) for their wonderful sandwiches.

In each area, six talented artists introduced participants to their practice, with the group experimenting with a variety of arts and crafts techniques. Beginning with the theme of Pride in Place, different ideas and approaches were practised and explored.

Elnaz Yazdani facilitated sessions looking at maps of the area, using experimental embroidery techniques which incorporated found and recycled materials.

Hannah Platt led workshops in photography, collage and zine making, again looking at the local areas. Images of iconic and popular buildings were created using mark-making methods and projection, facilitated by Rozi Fuller.

The people of Holbeck and Belle Isle used creative interpretation when the groups had the opportunity to craft intricate masks and draw charcoal portraits, as demonstrated by Tracy Lau and Boris Cruse respectively. In Holbeck Blue Plaques celebrating local places and people were made using Lino Printing techniques, led by Leigh Bowser. Nicole Colbert introduced participants in Belle Isle to Rag Rugging, and a beautiful rug featuring Belle Isle Circus will soon be on display at Cranmore and Raylands.

Belle Isle Circus rag rug

Feedback from those taking part has been extremely positive with comments including:

“I have learnt I am more creative than I thought and can’t wait to try more at home and get my children learning them too”

“We had fun and giggles”

“I loved every minute of it and looked forward to it every week.”

We are currently delivering workshops at Hunslet Community Hub & Library and Middleton Family Centre. These have taken place throughout November and will continue into December. We are delighted to be able to include pottery and oil painting in these sessions.

In January Creative Communities returns to Belle Isle and Holbeck:

The Welcome Centre – St John and St Barnabas Church, Belle Isle Road, LS10 3DN. Mondays, 10am-2pm on 8, 15, 22, 29 January; 5, 12 February.

Jamyang Centre, Ingram Road, LS11 9RQ. Wednesdays 10am-2pm on 10, 17, 24, 31 January; 7, 14 February.

All materials and a free lunch is provided for those taking part. Everyone is welcome to apply, regardless of artistic talents, as long as they live within the targeted areas (Belle Isle, Middleton, Holbeck and Hunslet) and are over 18.

Come along, make friends, get creative, have fun!

If you would like to take part in the project, please email: or you can call me, Penny Lewis, on 07438 666342, or visit the website

The project is also looking for volunteers to support the sessions, and we welcome applications from anyone who may be interested in offering their time and energy.

If you would be interested in finding out more about volunteering please contact me as above.


This post was written by Penny Lewis

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