It’s been a fantastic year at Blackhorse Workshop, especially being part of the first ever London Borough of Culture where we launched our children’s and young people’s programmes at the workshop. We’ve put together our highlights from 2019…
We won the bid to run The Agency for London Borough of Culture 2019 – a programme of creative workshops that target deprived inner-city areas. We recruited fifteen young people aged 15-25 from Higham Hill and Walthamstow to develop business ideas to benefit their communities. Receiving a weekly allowance and a chance to win £2,000 to take their ideas further, the finalist projects Non-Stop Boxing, Essence by Faith and Ignite are up and running and have been providing sessions for young people in the local area.
In April we delivered Atomic 50 – a theatrical metalworking workshop for families, delivering 62 performances and 14 adult metalworking classes. 720 local primary school children from Leyton and 1110 members of the public came to experience the theatrical making performance. Our mission was to challenge the approach and environment in which making skills are taught. Atomic 50 was one of five major commissions for London Borough of Culture, and kick started our young people’s programme to be continued at the workshop.
Following on from Atomic 50 and The Agency we delivered new programmes for children and young people. In the summer we took part in the V&A Great Get Together at Queen Elizabeth Park running a children’s sheet metalworking activity making toy aeroplanes. We then launched our after school Make Stuff Club for 9-11 year olds which ran here at the workshop and at a local primary school. We also introduced Makers & Shakers – a free skills-based programme for young people aged 15-25 learning wood and metalwork processes. We partnered with Waltham Forest College and delivered a 6 week course for their Pupil Referral Unit. More recently we ran Design & Technology sessions for local secondary schools. Inspired by the exhibition at William Morris Gallery Pioneers: William Morris and the Bauhaus the workshops focused on Bauhaus design principles. We also hosted a group of MA Architecture students from UEL came to Blackhorse to learn welding, design and develop their pergola structure for the Making Places project at Linear Park in Leytonstone.
It’s been a great year for events too. Our 5th birthday party fell on the anniversary of the 1969 moon landing which inspired us to launch the first ever ‘horstronaut’ into outer space, look out for him orbiting E17. We also celebrated the summer solstice with live music acts and dancing in the Blackhorse yard, including a very special morris dance. In September we ran an open day for London Design Festival and Open House London with a makers market, architects tour and specialist gilding workshop. We topped off our year just a few weeks ago with our Christmas Market with Blackhorse members and local makers selling their lovingly handcrafted designs, with mulled wine and delicious hot food, it was the perfect end to an epic year.
We’ve seen lots of changes and new improvements at the workshop. In March we had eight colourful converted containers delivered to our yard area, providing additional and affordable studio spaces for makers. Our new members common room has just been completed – a space for people to hang out, have their lunch or work on their laptops. The metal workshop is now extended and upgraded with new machinery and extraction!
What’s in store for 2020…
We are very excited to have a newly installed spray booth for members to apply paint and finishes to their work. There will be an induction process and consumables available from Reception. We are taking part in the Housewarming residency programme with Create London, where we will host a maker to design and create a sculptural lighting piece for the new British Council offices in Stratford. Also taking part will be Troy Town and Rabbits Road Press. And finally we will be launching Blackhorse Responders, a brand new six-month programme for 16-25 year olds that blends thinking and practice, aiming to inspire creative action and change in our local communities.
We look forward to seeing you in the new year!