‘Today I went back to school, 76 years after leaving’…
In December 2018, I was contacted by a lady who was looking for an artist to come in and work with the Mini Vinnies, an association linked to the SVP. They wanted some mosaic murals creating for what will be their new prayer garden in their school playground.
After a few emails were exchanged, it transpired that it was the Primary School which my Grandad, Albert Carney, had attended 86 years ago!
During the planning and preparation of this project, we celebrated Grandads 90th Birthday party in St Wilfred’s Parish Centre which was, at that time, his classroom.
Considering his strong link to the school and also the SVP, I invited him to join us in creating these special works of art with the Mini Vinnies at St Wilfred Primary School.
Over three days, 24 children participated in the mosaic workshop and during the last session they were joined by the guest of honour, Albert.
He came prepared, with his pockets full of school photographs and plenty of stories to tell. From tales about the war to anecdotes about his time at St Wilfreds and kept the children amused with his typical ‘(Grand)Dad Jokes’. He even found some mutual connections with the children’s family, which was no surprise as he seems to know half of Northwich! Not only did the children enjoy his stories, but he was equally interested in hearing about modern school life and was most amused by the fact he could hear children chatting away in the classroom, as 'you'd never get away with that in my day!'.
‘I wondered how conversation would be, but there was no problem.
They were wonderful.’
It was so special to see two generations, 80 years apart, collaborating on something which would not only be a permanent piece of art for the school but which also would provide everybody involved with memories to cherish and I am so honoured to have been a part of it.
'I went back to school today, 76 years after leaving in 1943, aged 14.
I was made welcome by the pupils I was going to be working with, all of them 11 years or so. I wondered how conversation was going to be, there was no problem. They were wonderful.
I was most impressed with their well mannered confidence and enthusiasm with what they were doing. I really enjoyed my time with them
Thankyou to everyone.
I hope I got a 9 out of 10!'
'I enjoyed doing the mosaics, it was really satisfying and calming. I was also really relaxing. Briony was really kind to us and I had a lot of fun!' - Pupil
'We did mosaics and it was really fun because Briony was really nice and so was Albert who is Briony's Grandad! It was also really really calming' - Pupil
'I really enjoyed learning how to lay and cut the tiles myself' - Pupil
'Briony ran a workshop at our school for 3 days .With her explanations, patience, great conversation with the children and with her guidance, we produced the most beautiful mosaics I have ever seen. Thankyou so much!' - Teacher
Now though, due to my current location and circumstances, I have no facilities for ceramics so I have been focusing more on the mosaics and workshops.
So here is where the decision came, do I change my branding to a more fun, colourful and informal theme to represent the mosaics and workshops or do I stick with my previous designs?
As you can see by the photo, fun and colourful won!
The truth is, as much as I love ceramics - the process, the excitement of opening the kiln and the pride I feel when displaying my work - I was never going to be able to make a living purely from my making and it's a pretty lonely lifestyle; sitting in a cold shed every day ( there is only so much you can chat to your dog about).
So in July 2016, I organised my first ever mosaic workshop. I had done some mosaics before and felt it would be a great thing to run as a workshop for adults as everybody can do it and you can make something start to finish in just a few hours.
I was absolutely thrilled when 16 people signed up to my first class but obviously pretty nervous! I had never really stood up in front of a room of adults to speak but soon realised that people had come just for a relaxing evening, learning a new skill and everybody was so lovely - I just loved it!
Almost 2 years later, the classes have gone from strength the strength and now I have more venues and have met so many lovely people, many of whom have returned for their second, third and even 10th workshop!
I absolutely love running the classes. They take a lot of preparation, but when it comes to the actual workshop I get to sit and eat cake whilst lending a hand and watching people create something they are so proud of.
Alongside running these classes, I have started to develop my own range of mosaic products, from little bumble bees to large mirrors and although I do miss my pottery wheel - I'm very happy with where my business is going and just hope it continues to grow!
Hopefully one day I will get back to making my ceramics - I'm pretty sure that I will but for now it's all about the workshops and mosaics so new branding and marketing materials were neccessary!
Come and join in the fun at one of my mosaic workshops- they are a lovely afternoon/evening/day out (even if I do say so myself!)