Craft group brings people together to help battle loneliness

An art and craft group for the over 50s that was only set up in September last year has secured almost £5000 from The Big Lottery Fund to help it to continue its work in the community.

Ageless Art was formed by East Dunbartonshire women Lynsey Hunter and Geraldine Scott and when the lottery funding was approved in March they set up their Mature Makers Project with the aim of offering art classes to older people looking to express their artistic side through the use of different mediums.

The first of the Mature Makers classes began shortly after receiving the Lottery funding and it has proved very popular with around 20 people attending Milngavie Library’s Continuing Education Centre for the two hour sessions twice a month. The last of the session will be on June 16 from noon before the group has a summer break with the next session due to start on August 25.

Both Lynsey and Geraldine stress that participants in the Mature Makers project do not have to be experienced artist, they just need to have a love of creating things out a range of materials.

Lynsey said: “These art based classes include decoupage, clay working and mixed media projects. All the classes are free and the funding we have received will help us to cover the cost of buying new materials. Although this year’s sessions have almost finished – the money we have received will help us to keep going until the end of this year.”

Lynsey, who comes from an art background, is also a trained counsellor and has worked for the Quarriers charity. She said it was very rewarding to see the friendships people have made in the classes, adding: “We mainly have people who are 50 plus and our oldest person is 99. People can find themselves on their own for many reasons as they get older. My dad died at 50 and my mum was left on her own. This can be a lonely time of life for people who have been used to bringing up children and having a lifelong partner who is suddenly no longer there.”

She said it could be a time of great readjustment and the art group is there to help people get together and express themselves through an art based project.

Her colleague Geraldine agreed. She said: “The response to the Mature Makers Project has been great. It has just grown organically. People come for many different reasons, but they all have a creative side and love using a range of materials for making things or drawing and painting.”

Geraldine, a part-time supply teacher, who has also worked in mental health, added: “It is amazing how creative people can be when you give them the opportunity to express themselves. There are a number of fine art class in the area, so we wanted to offer something a little bit different. Although many of the people that come to the sessions do draw and paint, equally we have people that are into decoupage, clay work, mixed media projects, lino printing and much more.”

The group has grown organically and as well as being a creative expression the art sessions are also very much about having fun and meeting people.

Linsey said: “We have one lady from Milngavie who comes to our session and she is our oldest person here at 97. And we have people coming here from Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs.

“There is a great exchange of ideas and I am constantly amazed at the intricacy of what they are producing.”

Some of the items produced include covers, bags, bird feeders and display shelves.

One woman that comes along with her mother is Lesley Meffin. Her mum, Liz, is 75 but still very keen on drawing. The 54-year-old customer services adviser from Kirkintilloch said: “I have always been keen on making things and was brought up with programmes like Blue Peter. I was looking for something to go to with my mum as she is a keen drawer but she is creative in other ways as she is also a keen knitter. I think of myself as a frustrated artist but not in the sense of painting. I am more into the clay and making items with mixed materials.”

And she added: “Lynsey and Geraldine are very encouraging and always enthusiastic to help us. This is also a great time for both me and my mum to share some quality time together to chill out and enjoy ourselves.

Many people attend the Mature Makers to meet, chat and swop ideas on the different techniques uses. But Lesley said: “When I get to the class I just become so engrossed in what I am doing that the two hours pass really quickly. My job is quite stressful so it is good to do something creative.”

For more contact Ageless Art at art@yahoo.com.