Learn, baby, learn! York exhibition will inspire you to take up new skills

One of the artworks featured at a previous Inspirations exhibition at York Explore
21 May 2013 @ 10.01 pm
| Education

One of the artworks featured at a previous Inspirations exhibition at York Explore
One of the artworks featured at a previous Inspirations exhibition at York Explore
Adult Learners’ Week is a national event, which “is an opportunity for individuals and organisations to celebrate the benefits of lifelong learning”. In my real world as an adult education tutor, this means working with my good friend and colleague, Will, to find innovative ways to engage employers and council staff and encourage them to be “learners for a week”.

This year, Will has been playing with Tarzia puzzles and I have developed a punctuation crossword and a homophone game (those tricky words that sound the same but are spelt differently, such as there, their and they’re). We are hoping to roll our little gems of genius as giant puzzles that will sit in the hubs in the new West Offices.

Will and I have a good crack at being creative in our own domains of English and maths but if you want to catch a glimpse of some real creativity and the artistic talents of some of the city’s adult learners, a very good place to start is the Inspirations Exhibition and Workshops, which will be running from York Explore (aka the Central Library) from May 24-26 to coincide with Adult Learners’ Week.

This event, organised by Claire Douglas, is in its ninth year. Learners have been invited by their tutors to display their sketches, paintings, stained glass creations and textile and dressmaking skills. The idea behind the exhibition is to reflect the wide range of arts courses available, and to really celebrate the achievements of the learners on Adult Education programmes. Submissions will also be made by learners on WEA courses and from students on York College’s Access course.

Learners of all ages and all abilities will be represented in the exhibition and the only stipulation is that they have completed a course this year. As I was talking to Claire, I realised that this makes me eligible to have my own masterpiece submitted (a piece I call The Apple Orange) as I attended a painting and drawing class earlier in the year. I am not sure that the public is ready for my highly ambiguous attempts but it is nice to know that there is the opportunity.

For new and emerging artists, seeing their work in a public place is a real achievement. As a tutor I also know that learning is not purely about the end result (the product) – it is about the process, the learning that occurs along the way.

Having been an adult learner myself this year, putting myself at the other side of the desk, I know that it is a real achievement to get yourself booked on to a course, to turn up and to complete it. Learning something new can be daunting but its rewards are numerous. Taking part in adult learning is a great way to improve confidence, not only in the skill and activity you are studying, but in the ability to socialise and make conversation with new people.

A dress made by a previous exhibitor at Inspirations
A dress made by a previous exhibitor at Inspirations

Some of the learners / exhibitors are accomplished artists. Work displayed during the weekend is for sale at the artist’s discretion and Claire explained it is a fantastic opportunity to pick up unique pieces at bargain prices. Last year, Claire had her eye an oil painting, which was sold whilst she was busy setting up, for a very reasonable £15.

Whilst the exhibition will be an eclectic mix, with some more contemporary pieces anticipated from York College, Claire would describe the event as a “community arts exhibition”. York Explore is a perfect venue as visitors to the library may discover the displays accidentally as well as it being a venue central to the city.

During the week, the Inspirations programme will include some one day taster workshops, to be held at York Explore. So, if you would like to kindle a new or dormant talent, here are a few suggestions:

Let’s Start Rag-Rugging
Friday 24th May, 11am-3pm £15

Bookbinding-Concertina Books with a Modern Twist
Saturday 25th May, 10am-3pm £25

Felt Making, Contemporary Landscapes
Saturday 25th May, 10am-3pm £25

Glass Engraving (introduction)
Saturday 25th May, 1pm-4pm £15

Stained Glass, Sun Catchers
Sunday 26th May, 11am-3.30pm £30

Chinese Brush Painting
Sunday 26th May, 11am-3.30pm £30


  • You can find out more about the Inspirations Festival, and book onto a workshop by visiting the Yortime website or by calling (01904) 552806.