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Our work with young people

Creative conservation and design in Dunterlie!

Our Creative Pathways group in Barrhead have been incredibly busy using their art and design skills to promote environmental advocacy on a local level.

Based at the Dunterlie Resource Centre, the young people have been working with local community groups in the area as part of green arts projects.

They have partnered with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), a group dedicated to improving greenspaces in Dunterlie and Barrhead for wildlife and people, and have also been working with Dunterlie's youth group to create designs for local art.

The team, working with our artists Emmett and Portia, are also looking at ways their designs could be used to brighten up the Dunterlie Resource Centre they have working in since January this year.

In the past week, TCV worked with our young people to show them how to build bird boxes. The group got on with the task in hand, following the process from start to finish: measuring, sawing, hammering, drilling and sealing the boxes until they were ready for painting.

These bird boxes will be installed in the greenspaces surrounding Dunterlie to encourage more wildlife to nest in the area. The group have also planted fifty trees in the nearby park.

Meanwhile, the group have been looking at the meaning behind arts and decoration more broadly. A Through the Keyhole-style exercise saw the team attempting to figure out whose home was whose from pictures – a fascinating way of looking at the art behind the person, and one that threw up quite a few surprises and debates.

This fed into a workshop the team delivered with the Dunterlie Youth Group (aged 8-12). They discussed theory of colour and the different meanings and emotions. After much debate, the youth group created individual designs for the shutters, which the Creative Pathways team took elements from for final designs potentially for the shutters at the centre in Dunterlie.

Meanwhile, the group continue to get support from Impact Arts’ Opportunities Co-ordinator Maggie to help them find spaces in employment, training or education for when the course ends in March.

The programme is open to 16-25 year olds who are not in employment, education or training. If you are interested, please contact Heather Gault on 0141 575 3001 or email

This programme is funded by Barrhead Housing Association, the Big Lottery Fund's Our Bright Future initiative, and the Scottish Government's People and Communities fund.

Mark-making, animation and disrupting by design in North Ayrshire!

Young people in North Ayrshire are making their mark in Irvine, working with artist Ruth Switalski as part of a new block of our Creative Pathways employability programme!

The group of four – all aged 16-17 and are looking for opportunities in work, education or training – have been learning techniques in drawing, mark-making and stop-motion animation, while getting involved in the planning and preparation of Impact Arts’ Designed by Disruption event.

The first workshops saw the group exploring the mark-making potential of various tools and drawing mediums. Working in ink, graphite, chalk and charcoal, the group produced collaborative drawings made in response to descriptive words and abstract ideas.

As creative ideas developed from these initial exercises, workshops began to focus more on moving image. Looking at the artists like William Kentridge, everybody worked on single-page stop-motion animation and further explored dynamic, expressive mark-making.

Planning then began on Designed by Disruption, an Impact Arts event to be held at our premises in Irvine. Designed by Disruption was part of the Scottish Government’s Firestarter Festival, which looks at how creative practitioners and thinkers can help "disrupt" and redesign public services.

The group were excited to handed the brief for the event. They decided to showcase experimental film and animation works they had been making, as well as inviting previous participants Callum (now an Impact Arts Creative Assistant) and Tyler for an “in-conversation” discussion with artists Ruth and Christine.

The group reflected on their experiences of the Creative Pathways programme, spoke about how it differs from school, and what their plans are for the future. It was a resounding success, with amazing film work and thoughtful, inspirational discussion about what we do at Impact Arts.

The event also formed the basis of the Enterprise Activity section of the group’s SQA Employability Award, which each participant is working towards. The team are now looking at CV skills, interview skills, portfolio building and their Steps to Work award, as they prepare for a final showcase event on Wednesday 13th March 2019 – more details to come!

The programme is funded by Our Bright Future, the National Lottery Community Fund and Skills Development Scotland.

Express Yourself! Exhibiting artwork by care-experienced young people in North Ayrshire

It's been an absolute privilege to work with North Ayrshire's ThroughCare services on the Express Yourself project over the past nine months. The project offers free tuition in creative techniques to young people in North Ayrshire with experience of the care system.

Our artist Laura Frood has been delivering workshops for care-experienced young people in photography, upycling, textile design and sculpture. They have produced some really high quality artwork with a strong theme of home and belonging.

We are delighted to be holding an exhibition event for the project at Irvine Townhouse (66 High St, Irvine KA12 0AZ) on Thursday 28th February 2019between 3.30pm and 6pm.

We're very excited about sharing this work with a wider audience. As well as showcasing some incredible artwork, you will witness the young people who took part creating a live piece of art on the day.

If you would like to attend, please contact Matthew McWhinnie on 0141 575 3001 or email

Thanks to Life Changes Trust, North Ayrshire ThroughCare and North Ayrshire Council for their funding and support on this project.

Environmental activism with a creative twist in Dunterlie!

A new block of our Creative Pathways employability programme has kicked off in Barrhead, with young people learning how to use artistic techniques to promote environmental activism locally.

The group, who are all aged 16-25 and not currently in work, education or training, are working with artists Emmett and Portia.

As part of this programme, we will be collaborating with TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) to get our young people making a difference to their local environment.

The team have already planted over forty trees in the local area, including oak, birch, silver birch, hazel and alder. Future sessions with TCV will see the group making bird boxes and planters for local allotments.

The team have been getting used to their surroundings at Barrhead's Dunterlie Community Centre, where a packed schedule of community work is kicking off.

The team have been exploring Barrhead, photographing the entire alphabet from shapes and patterns they find in the environment.

On an icy morning last week, the group took a long walk to Dams to Darnley Country Park. Equipped with their cameras, they documented the journey all the way, creating abstracts from frozen ice puddles. A long walk made longer by getting completely lost on the way back to Barrhead - but at least it helped everyone get a good night's sleep.

The programme is running for ten weeks, up until 22nd March 2019, and there are still spaces. More information can be found here on the join a project section of our website. You can also call Heather at Impact Arts on 0141 575 3001 or email for more information.

As well as learning loads of creative skills, participants get one-to-one support from Impact Arts' employability staff while working towards completing SQA units.

This programme is funded by Barrhead Housing Association, the Big Lottery Fund's Our Bright Future initiative, and the Scottish Government's People and Communities fund.

Bright & bleezin': young people create immersive multimedia exhibition in North Lanarkshire

"A hunner funnels bleezin’, reekin’,
Coal an’ ironstane, charrin’, smeekin’,
Navvies, miners, keepers, fillers,
Puddlers, rollers, iron millers..."

- Excerpt from Oor Location by Janet Hamilton, 19th century Lanarkshire poet

Fifteen young people from North Lanarkshire put on an incredible exhibition last week, transforming the grounds of Coatbridge's Summerlee Industrial Museum with light projections, animations, abstract sound works and spoken word pieces created over the past ten weeks on our Creative Waterways programme.



The group have been working with Impact Arts at Summerlee since October, learning techniques in digital photography, animation, projection and sound art.

Inspired by the history of industry in North Lanarkshire and life by the Monkland Canal, they used the museum's exhibits as inspiration, interviewing members of staff at Summerlee and researching local poets' depictions of working life.

The exhibition - entitled Bleezin' after a work by local poet Janet Hamilton - was the result of an incredible amount of work by the team. They pulled together a brilliant collection of work, creating an intense, immersive multimedia walking route for those in attendance.



As darkness fell on the museum grounds, the bright colours, burning barrels, enormous digital projections and industrial sound pieces combined to truly striking effect - a fitting way to end the ten week project.

While building their digital and artistic skills, the young people - who were all unemployed at the beginning of the programme - have been getting one-to-one support from Impact Arts to find spaces in work, education and training, including sessions on CV-writing and interview skills, while completing SQA units in employability.

Nina Maxwell, 17, is one of the Creative Waterways participants. She was impressed by seeing everything pulled together for the showcase.

"I didn't really know what to expect, but everything looks amazing - especially in darkness under the UV lights.

"The project has made me more creative. I'm now looking to go to college to do something like photography, which I knew I liked already but the course has made me realise it's what I want to do.

"Creative Waterways is a good thing for young people to get into. It's fun, relaxed and it makes you more confident - everyone gets their say. We've also gained 15 new pals out of it, so it's win-win!"



Sarah Hill is one of the artist tutors working with the young people over the past ten weeks.

"We were really impressed by the work the young people created," she said.

"The exhibition looked spectacular, and that wouldn’t have been possible without hard work and dedication from the whole group. It was great to see the participants bursting with pride during the event.

"They’ve gained skills for life while will serve them well in the jobs, education and training they’ll move on to in the future - we couldn't be more proud."

We'd like to offer an enormous thank you to the funders and partners who made this project possible: the Scottish Waterways Trust, YouthLink Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund, Our Bright Future, Bairdwatson Charitable Trust, CashBack for Communities and the Scottish Government.


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