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Our work with young people

Young people crafting their future on Creative Pathways North Ayrshire

What will our futures look like? What if we could travel into the future to examine our own successes?

Young people on Creative Pathways in North Ayrshire have been examining this topic during weeks three and four of a 10-week block of our arts and employability programme.

The group have been working with artists Christine and Ruth, discussing utopian and dystopian futures, composing a “message to the future”, time travelling to their ultimate personal future and bringing back their evidence of their future successes.

The group have also been experimenting with materials and produced their first live project for a public event, taking place in Irvine’s Eglinton Country Park.



They were asked to transform hundreds of recycled milk cartons into lanterns for a guided storytelling walk. They created prototypes which they then pitched to each other. As a group, they decided to use a flower design, and worked together to meticulously cut out and assemble petals. The final piece was hung between trees, with lights woven through the design.

In other workshops, the team have been building and drawing abstract architectural still-life pieces, which is helping to develop their drawing skills. After gathering objects on a walk around the local area, they monoprinted their objects onto black fabric.

Week four of the project ended in an introduction to casting plaster, creating sculptural objects using sand moulds. This work will be developed further in coming weeks, exploring casting and printmaking in various applications.



As well as passing on a huge range of creative arts skills, the Creative Pathways course is about passing on skills that will help the group when looking for spaces in work and education.

Funded by Skills Development Scotland’s Employability Fund, they are working towards completing their SQA Employability Award and Steps to Work Awards. This involves them discussing their qualities, figuring out what they would most like to do in the future, and completing sessions on job searching, CV skills and mock interviews.

We still have a handful of spaces left on this programme, which is running 60 Bank Street in Irvine from Tuesday – Friday until mid December. It’s open to 16 and 17 year olds in North Ayrshire who are not currently in work, education or training. Participants receive a £55 training weekly training allowance plus necessary travel expenses.

If you are interested in signing up or making a referral, please contact Impact Arts’ Jamie Proudfoot on 0141 575 3001 or

Finding beauty in the unexpected: Creative Pathways North Ayrshire

A new block of Creative Pathways in North Ayrshire is off to a strong start with an inquisitive, enthusiastic and engaged group of young people taking part in creative workshops in Irvine.

The group - all aged 16-17 and not currently in employment or education - will be working with artists Ruth and Christine for 12 weeks, learning artistic techniques, creating artwork through experimenting with unusual and unexpected materials, and thinking about environmentally-themed interventions and installations.

Upon beginning the programme, the group discussed the concept of "the environment" and some specific themes: namely urban spaces, boring places, atmosphere, memories, and how to challenge stereotypes associated with the environmental movement (going beyond blue bins and co-called "greenwashing").

The team also discussed art and creativity more generally, and the differences between the two ideas. As participant Matthew aptly noted, “art is an expression of creativity”.

The group began by making marbled paper to use as covers for handmade sketchbooks, which will serve as a place for notes, doodles and records of their research out in the field over the next few months.

By the end of week one, the young people self-organised an outdoor exploration in Irvine to take pictures of details in the environment they find interesting. They decided an important consideration is the fact that the environment and place means something different to everyone.

The second week of the programme focused on quick practical experiments using scavenged and scrap wood. The group was given different briefs: make the tallest sculpture, the widest elevated sculpture, a sculpture with the most volume, etc. They then progressed into thinking about aesthetics: what makes something beautiful or ugly? Can this influence how people feel about a place?

Looking ahead, the young people will be taking their materials outdoors and seeing how they can use their newfound creative skills to transform local spaces.

We still have a few spaces on this programme! Are you aged 16-17 and not currently in education, employment or training? Do you live in North Ayrshire? Want to develop your creative skills? Want to earn £55 per week (plus travel) as you do so?

Participants will get invaluable hands-on experience of digital art, graphic design, photography and more, while learning about environmental issues and working as a team to organise a showcase and exhibition event.

Those taking part will also get advice on CVs, job-hunting, next steps, and have the opportunity to complete an SQA Stage 3 award in Employability.

If you are interested and would like to discuss the programme further, please contact Impact Arts Programme Manager Jamie Proudfoot on 0141 575 3001 / 07741 640 417 or email

Funding and support for the project comes from Skills Development Scotland, Our Bright Future, the Big Lottery Fund, Inspiring Scotland and the Gannochy Trust.

Young people in Barrhead get animated about social issues

Young people had another fun and inspiring week on our Creative Pathways programme in Barrhead, as new members joined the group to participate in a range of art activities and reflective writing workshops!

Artists Rosanna and Portia began the week by challenging the young people about what makes them angry and what issues they care about. After a short piece of personal creative writing – from getting woken up by the cat to annoying teachers from school - the group split to pore over newspapers and discuss the issues locally and internationally which made their blood boil.

The group were then asked to turn negative to positives and come up with messages they wanted to share. Following a presentation of charity adverts, the young people began designing a campaign about something they really cared about.

The next step was to create storyboards and write scripts to make short films to captured the audience’s imagination and encourage them to engage with the issue.

One group had a passion for animals and decided to tackle animal cruelty, while another group considered child abduction in Scotland and the third looked at environmental issues causing floods over-seas.

The rest of the week the young people designed plasticine models and built sets to start making their short films. We'll have more to come on the blog shortly...

Meanwhile, the team worked on their employability skills by considering what was important to them, and how they wanted to fuse this with the world of work, learning about different opportunities available in different sectors. They also made a start on CVs, by learning about how caring about different issues can help you develop skills and qualities in a wide variety of areas.

"I'm finding the course really interesting, because I'm always learning new skills," says participant Becky. "I've become more confident through talking to new people as well.

"I've enjoyed writing creative stories and getting to use my imagination through the animation work. It's inspired me to try everything, because I've enjoyed things that I didn't think I would."

We still have a few spaces on this programme, which is running until mid-November. The programme is aimed at 16-25 year olds who are not in employment, education or training. Find more information here.

Funding and support for the project comes from Barrhead Housing Association, Inspiring Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund's Our Bright Future initiative and the Scottish Government's People and Communities Fund.

Apply to become our new Youth Ambassador artist in North Ayrshire!

As part of the Our Bright Future-funded environmental focus of our work, Impact Arts are looking to recruit a graduate artist as a Youth Ambassador to deliver creative consultation workshops with the community of Irvine, North Ayrshire to create a piece of public art.

This will be the third time we have recruited a Youth Ambassador, and the first time we have done so outside of Glasgow. Irvine is a community in which we have long had a strong presence, and we are very excited about broadening the scope of the role to get more people involved.

The successful applicant must be an arts graduate aged 19-24 with a strong interest in the environment, environmental design and community arts.

The role will involve engaging with local schools and community groups to raise awareness of the Our Bright Future programme, which uses the arts as a medium to get young people involved in shaping environmental change in their community.

The Youth Ambassador will receive £200 a week for two days' work, plus a budget for materials and a final exhibition. More information about the role and how to apply can be found here on our website.

All queries should be sent to Nicola Wood, Programme Manager, Impact Arts on or 0141 575 3001.

Closing date for applications: 12pm, Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Artist interviews: W/c Monday 8th October 2018 (day TBC)

Here is a bit more information about our two previous Youth Ambassadors, what they did in the role and what they created with the input of the wider community.

Jonny Walker

Jonny worked with community groups and schools in Dennistoun, Glasgow to create a piece inspired by thinking about community and the local environment. He used environmentally friendly techniques and materials too - the groups created flags using recycled fabric and natural dyes from food and flower waste.

The final piece, unveiled at at a community festival in Alexandra Park, was a sound sculpture wired up to include unusual sounds created in workshops with local children using contact microphones and items found in charity shops.

Jonny's website.

Natasha De Vries

Natasha worked in Dennistoun for three months, delivering arts workshops with primary schools, secondary schools and community groups. The workshops focussed on making images highlighting the evolving landscape in the area.

The participants all created a piece of individual handmade art, which combined to create a map of the area. At the end of the exhibition, everyone was able to take away a section and have a piece of collaborative community art for the home.

Natasha's website.

Artist Laura Frood on working with care-experienced young people in North Ayrshire

Since June this year, we have been delivering a new project for care-experienced young people in North Ayrshire, entitled Express Yourself.

Artist Laura Frood has been delivering sessions every Monday at Impact Arts premises at Bank Street and at Redburn Community Centre, teaching young people photography techniques and getting them thinking about how photography can be used to explore different perspectives.

In this blog, Laura writes a bit about her experience on the project so far, as well as how she feels about .

Express Yourself has been made possible thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust, North Ayrshire Council, and Throughcare North Ayrshire.

My background is photography and film, so when the opportunity came up to lead a brand new photography-based project with young people in North Ayrshire came up I was excited. My head started to burst with ideas and activities we could do to engage young people. Little did I know that I would learn as much from this group of young people as I would teach them.

What I love the most about being a community-based artist is that no two days are the same. I get to work with a wide variety of people from all walks of life - what makes my job special is when these people allow me to become part of their world.

I'm working with two groups of young people as part of Express Yourself. The first is a group from Redburn Youth Cafe, who are incredibly dedicated and motivated and spend time their time working together to serve the community. The second is group of care-experienced young people who are passionate, strong, individual, and determined to challenge the stereotypes they face.

With Redburn Youth Cafe we have been working on a civic pride project, inspired by at the local town, its traditions and its people. We’ve been on photography walks, recreating old photographs of Irvine landmarks and using neon paints to create some fun and youthful images celebrating the Youth Cafe.

We are about to embark on a project called Humans of Irvine inspired by the world famous Humans of New York photography project. The outcomes will be collated into a zine designed and made by the group.

Young person holding child in black and white photograph

The second group - based at Bank Street in Irvine - have been instrumental in directing the project, using creativity to explore identity and celebrate the diversity of young people.

Giving the group space to share their experiences and challenge stereotypes has been integral to the project. There is a very social element to workshops; we talk about issues that affect them, we laugh and we make beautiful and meaningful artwork.

A big element of this project has been portraiture. Using studio lighting and professional cameras, the group have planned and directed their own shoots with some unique and thought-provoking images.

Triptych of young people with writing on their hands

They have also been using photography to document their environment. A series of photographs taken on the seafront in Irvine show the beauty of the decay caused by the harsh weather of the west coast - using these images as inspiration we have begun to design and print textiles using organic or eco-printing methods.

We’re about half way through and the talent and enthusiasm of both groups amazes me, I can’t wait to see what will unfold in the next few months, and of course the opportunity to showcase all the amazing work the young people have made.

Stay tuned for more updates and information on the final exhibition!

collage of photographs

Texture Photograph

Texture Photograph 2

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