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Our work with young people

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.


Our Place: Young people blend natural and urban in Glasgow exhibition

Young people taking part in our Creative Pathways employability programme in Glasgow unveiled the superb (Our) Place exhibition this week - an eclectic set of artistic responses to environmental issues.

Four young people have been working with artist Allan Whyte over the past 12 weeks, learning artistic techniques, developing their creative practice and exploring issues that are important to them: including mental health, LGBT rights, free speech and identity.

This exhibition, which took place at The Space community venue on London Road, particularly focused on environmental issues and the group employed environmentally-conscious techniques when creating their work.

The exhibition featured:

  • Stenciled graffiti on recycled wooden panels
  • Photography taken using shoebox cameras and developed using coffee and other household items
  • Plaster casts sculptures of pieces of rubbish like milk boxes - symbolising the permanence of plastic in the environment
  • Sculptures combining spraypainted leaves and found metallic objects.

While working on these creative projects, the young people - who are aged 16-17 were not in employment, education or training at the beginning of the programme - got support from Impact Arts to find what they want to do in the future.

They got training in finding work - including CV writing and interview skills - gaining SQA qualifications in Employability.

Ryan McCann, 17, is one of the young people who took part in the programme.

He said: "If you'd told me at the beginning of the year I'd be part of an art exhibition I'd have said you were crazy.

"It's been cool to go to a work space and develop creatively. I enjoyed most the photography and grafitti - I've learned more about how to edit and how to work a camera.

"I now feel like I'd like to pursue acting and filmmaking at college."

Sofia Akram, 17, is another of the programme participants.

"It was a nice opportunity to grow and learn new things," she said. "I also learned more about what people want in the world of work.

"It feels nice to share what we've done with other people."

Allan Whyte is a visual artist who the young people have been working with since the beginning of October.

"I'm massively impressed by what the young people have produced. They brought great ideas to the project and worked hard to pull this collection of work together.

"We felt it was important that the young people were creating work that reflected their own experiences, and the issues that are important to them. They've accomplished this brilliantly, showing off what they've learned while bringing their own individual styles to the work.

"It goes to show that when young people are given time, materials and a platform to develop, they produce a really high level of creative work."

Impact Arts runs 12-week Creative Pathways programmes throughout Scotland's central belt throughout the year, giving unemployed young people the opportunity to learn artistic techniques while getting support to find work or places in education and training.

This block in Glasgow was funded by Skills Development Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund's Our Bright Future initiative and Inspiring Scotland.

New blocks of the programme will be beginning in Barrhead in the new year.

Visit our Join a Project page to find out more.

"Breaking out of the shell": Sofia on her experience with Creative Pathways

Creative Pathways continues in Glasgow - our arts and creativity-focused employability programme, which teaches young people creative skills while giving them support to find work. Partially funded by Our Bright Future, the group are also learning about green issues and creating environmental art.

Sofia Akram, 17, is one of the participants. She has written this blog about her experience with Impact Arts - learning new creative techniques, trying new things and seeing new places.

Autumn has come and then gone and winter is here. I’ve spent the wet red leaves season at Impact Arts. I’m one out of four young people who is on the Creative Pathways training programme. Whenever I share this fact with people they always ask me “Oh? What are you training for?” and I stand simply stumped. When I finally say something, it’s the word Arts.

“What are you doing, what kind of stuff does that involve?” My friend asks me curiously when I shared my recent endeavours with her.

A shoe box camera. Ink that runs pink and blue, turning purple. Stamp! I go. Click! I go. Allan Whyte, our tutor and certified artist, is earnestly showing us youngsters all these things.

Four weeks out of ten went quickly. That’s four weeks of arriving, learning, working then leaving. Or, well, four days out of each week. But as someone whose recent routine was about two or three days a week (and for a long time no days a week) such a change is dramatic and mind expanding. I guess I could complain and say I have to wake up far too early to catch a bus that’s almost always late, and sit on it for over thirty minutes until my day really starts - but I can’t and I won’t! In the world of work, a person should always be up and about, punctual and independent! And Creative Pathways, though about art, is also very much an introduction to the world of work.

It’s eye opening to be in The Factory, meeting the people who work here. Work. They’re adults with a routine, independence and a drive to do what they do. I want that. That’s why I’m here. Maggie - a very nice lady who I have found common ground with, in that we both are constantly chasing after Glasgow’s public transport - commutes to different parts of Scotland throughout the week, visiting various other branches Impact Arts has grown. It’s mind-boggling to me how she does such a thing continuously and always with a bounce in her step. Inspiring too.

In the past few weeks I have not only seen parts of Glasgow I had not seen before (guided by Mr Whyte for an adventure seeking local art) but I’m also constantly meeting new people and breaking out of the shell I had been stuck in for over a decade. I take the bus to places unknown, I eat where I’ve never eaten before and walk through doors I have not thought to pass through before in my life. When I see the Lighthouse in the City Centre I smile fondly, knowing what’s at the top, knowing its historical and artistic significance.

How would I summarise my time spent here in a short and concise way? Lovely and educational.

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

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The team at Impact Arts work hard to secure over £1.5m of funding per year to provide life changing creative experiences for more than 5000 people.

You can help us achieve this target through making a single gift, or a regular donation. Thank you.

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