A delightful new art gallery, beautiful artwork and illuminated trees all add up to an exciting new chapter for the Sandy Lane Centre in Skelmersdale.
The Tree House Gallery, which also has a gift shop and cafe, is a new fun attraction for the centre and is already attracting a lot of visitors.
Artwork can be seen in other places through the centre, with window vinyls on the Council's Housing and Inclusion Service ground floor offices and artwork surrounding one of the stairwells. Even some of the trees have been illuminated.
Community group the Friends of Sandy Lane is working in partnership with West Lancashire Borough Council’s Arts Development and Estates teams on the project. Together they put in a successful lottery application to Arts Council England, with the main aims being to develop artwork that would engage the local community and animate the centre.
Professional artists Neil and Fiona Osborne from arts organisation One Red Shoe and published writer Sarah Schofield worked with the local community, including St Richards Primary School, Divine Days Community Arts Group, West Lancashire Community High School, The Park Children Centre and Beacon View Home for Older People.
Councillor Yvonne Gagen, portfolio holder for Leisure, said: “The workshops were a great success, resulting in a wealth of local stories, anecdotes and aspirations, and I want to thank everyone involved. The gallery and the other fantastic enhancements to the Sandy Lane Centre have made it an even better place to visit. So make sure you come down and take a look.”
Local heritage has been the primary inspiration for the artwork, with an invaluable contribution from Chris Bentley from Skelmersdale Heritage Society. The resulting artwork, which has been given the title 'The Hidden Garden’, celebrates identity and provides a real sense of place.
Visitors to the Tree House Gallery can see the artwork produced by the local community and school children. They can also read the story ‘The Hidden Garden’ written by Sarah Schofield, in which she has pulled together all the fantastic imagery and memories from the workshops.
The gallery is run by the Friends of Sandy Lane in partnership with the Council's Arts Development Team. It provides a great opportunity for individual artists and makers to sell their work. They can rent a space and sell their work or advertise their Etsy online shop. There are also opportunities to exhibit or volunteer.
The first phase of this project to animate the Sandy Lane Centre is nearly complete, but a second phase with further improvements is already in the planning stage which seeks to further improve the centre. Keep an eye out for more exciting developments, and if you are interested in helping make these happen join the Friends of Sandy Lane. Email firstname.lastname@example.org in the Arts Development team for more details.