Rose Fair street art workshops

Get stuck into spray painting and sculpture making with umbrellas, guided by street artist Nick Shove in the lead up to Wisbech Rose Fair.

These drop-in workshops are free and suitable for all ages (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult). The sculpture that is created in these workshops will then be on display during Wisbech Rose Fair on Saturday 29th June.

Dates/times: Saturday 15th June 10am – 3pm or Friday 21st June 10am – 5pm

Location: REMO Eco-Superstore in Wisbech.

No booking required, just turn up.

Art Road Trip

MarketPlace has partnered with The National Gallery for Art Road Trip as part of their 200th year celebrations. Together we have curated a two week creative programme designed to bring art and creativity to communities in Wisbech and Mildenhall. This July, we are welcoming an art studio across multiple locations in both towns, along with a range of free, open to all, hands on creative workshops.

The travelling studio will be stationed at various locations across Wisbech from 1-7 July and Mildenhall from 8-14 July, (exact dates and times to be confirmed), with free workshops and interactive activities for all. We’ll be encouraging everyone to get creative, inspired by the theme of ‘Look up and take to the skies’ in Mildenhall, and ‘More than meets the eye in Wisbech. Two incredible artists from The National Gallery will be leading these sessions, exploring a variety of techniques and practices.

Community Workshops Throughout June

We will be working with artist Ann Bellamy and using found pictures from local charity shops to explore the theme ‘More than meets the eye’. Ann will be working at Peckover House and across Wisbech before the Art Road Trip starts in July.

We will be running community creative writing workshops in June exploring the theme of ‘Look up and take to the skies’. The writing that comes from these sessions will then be available to inspire anyone who joins us in July for Art Road Trip.

Later this year we will be exhibiting a series of the artworks across both towns, developed with the communities and with an accompanying guide. More details on the exhibition will be shared later this year.

Chatteris Quilters

Chatteris Quilters runs every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. The group evolved from the positive response to quilting workshops held in Chatteris during the Autumn. These workshops were introduced based on feedback received from the community during the Chatteris Midsummer Festival in June 2023.

So far, the six sessions have been led by facilitators Susie Batchelor, Karin Forman, and Marian Savill. Each facilitator brought a unique perspective on textiles, inspiring the group to explore new ways of using them. The group has made pin cushions using English paper piecing, recycled fabric beads, patchworked postcards and sewing books. The group was also invited to bring along their own projects to work on.  

As the sessions are drop-in, and each week has a different activity, it doesn’t matter if you miss one. You can just slip back into the group with no worries of catching up!

If you’d like to join Chatteris Quilters, come along to our next series on Tuesday 9 & 23 January, Tuesday 13 & 27 February, and Tuesday 12 & 26 March 2024. Each runs from 2-4pm with refreshments provided.

Contact us for further information

Let’s Imagine a Dragon!

To discover what local residents want to see and take part in at St George’s Festival on 21 April 2024 in March, we delivered a creative consultation event called ‘Let’s Imagine a Dragon!’ Free and fun drop-in creative activities for all ages at March Library were designed to inspire play, creativity and imagination. We used the opportunity to showcase and celebrate this year’s festival, showing films featuring the parade dragon displayed in all its glory and including specially composed music by young people.

Residents were invited to interact with artists and designers including Ricki Outis, Carey Outis, Liz Falconbridge and Karin Forman at ten different stations and get hands-on with giant neon green chickens, willow crocodiles, giant skeletons, digital dragons, a poetry scavenger hunt, and more… 

Thomas Lawes, a Babylon Young Associate, showed how to draw and design your own dragon on an I-pad with Tag Tool, which could then join a ‘digital family of dragons’ projected onto the wall for all to see.

Several parents bringing their children to the library said they thought they would spend half an hour at the event, but ended up spending 3 hours, having fun themselves and watching their children dress up as mice and strawberries!

The day wasn’t just designed for children and families, it was a day which inspired everyone. Even those reluctant to take part couldn’t resist trying on Mandinga Arts’ magical puppet costumes and become someone else for a few minutes!

The young people from 20Twenty Productions came along and were hugely inspired by the creative activities, especially having fun dressing up as hyenas and zebras with Mandinga Arts. Charles, the puppet creator, was on hand to explain how the puppets were developed and made – from initial ideas, to mock ups, to the real deal!

People added their ideas for next year’s festival, as well as which activities they most enjoyed to maps created by artist Carey Outis and Beth Haysom from Babylon Arts. 

350 people came through the doors. It was wonderful to see everyone laughing, having fun and letting go in a safe, warm environment – on a very wet and windy day! 

The community voice is shaping our planning of creative activities for the festival. We are now pulling together ideas for pre-festival workshops and on-the-day activities based on feedback from local people such as let’s have:

  • Drawing and painting
  • Making dragons on the Ipad
  • Shadow puppets
  • Animated dragon drawings
  • Puppetry workshop with stuff to try on and do
  • Wildlife and dragon-inspired costumes
  • Dragon cake making
  • Storytelling
  • A choir
  • Escape room
  • Dragon egg rolling
  • Willow sculptures

‘Imagine a Dragon’ has already inspired the local secondary school to ask Mandinga Arts to put together workshops for them to create dragon heads for the parade next April.

“It was fun and amazing” – participant

“The day went brilliantly! There was so much laughter! Families seemed really engaged, even the ones that were a bit reluctant because of the word poetry’’ – Charley Genever, Poet

Many thanks to Fenland District Council and March Library for helping and hosting, and to our other partners on the St George’s Festival committee.

Peggy Mends, Creative Producer, Fenland

Voices of Forest and Fen

Introducing Voices of Forest and Fen, a creative writing project inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood that explores the richly historic landscapes, stories and lives within Fenland and Forest Heath. Join writer Belona Greenwood in a series of free creative writing workshops to create a verse drama of what it is to live and work here.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer, these online and in-person workshops are for all levels of writing experience. Led by writer, screenwriter and creative facilitator Belona Greenwood, the sessions will explore what the Fens and forest mean to you, and help you build a sense of place with words.

You will be guided through the process of research, writing, and editing. At the end of the workshops, participants will have created a narrative of voices and portrayals of the land, culminating in a final performance piece. We hope that some of the writing will become public readings at festivals and events around the region.

Read Belona’s introduction to Voices of Forest and Fen here.

Future workshop dates to be announced.

Writer Belona Greenwood introduces Voices of Forest and Fen

Marketplace’s area of operations stretches from the fens to forest and heath, strongly atmospheric, richly historic landscapes full of stories. Nature writer Robert Macfarlane describes entering the Fens like ‘crossing a border into another world.’ Equally, walk into the forest and you can listen to the trees bearing witness to all that has occurred around them. 

Capturing and writing creatively with the community about these unique worlds is what a new Marketplace community project, Voices of Forest and Fen is all about. Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ 1954 verse drama Under Milk Wood, our text will embody the special nature of our landscapes and the lives lived there past and present.

Those of us of an older generation might remember Under Milk Wood narrated by the hypnotic voice of Richard Burton full of strong, lyrical description of place and the comic, compassionate deeply human voices of the local population. It was a complete portrait haunted by the spirits of the dead. This is what we aim to achieve, to invite members of Fenland and Forest Heath communities to come together in a series of writing workshops to create our own verse drama of what it is to live and work here. 

The workshops are open to members of the community who want to help create this picture of where we live. We will explore what the fens and forest mean to you as individuals and build a sense of place with words – researching lives from the past who haunt our landscapes still, figures who do not have to be famous, it could be that you write about a great grandfather who had to leave to go off to war or an aunt who never set foot outside a village. We will write about the lives of people in the past, and how they lived, as well as to capture the voices of the present. We will also create monologues and dialogues from water, trees, and sky. After all this shifting land so altered over time should have a voice too. 

The workshops are open to beginners and those with experience of writing. In six two hour sessions, I will lead you through the process of research, and writing and finally, will edit everything together. There are two groups, one for the fens and one for forest and heath. 

The content of the project is very much guided by you who know the stories, have smelt the changes in the wind, and walked the paths.

We hope that some of the writing on the way to the creation of a final performance piece will become public readings at festivals and events around the region. In the end we will have our own version of Under Milk Wood – a frieze of voices over time and descriptions of the land we share that no one will ever be able to forget. 

Belona Greenwood, Writer, Scriptwriter and Creative Facilitator

St George’s Day Creative Launch

Join us at March Library on 4 November from 11:30 – 3pm to play, explore and have fun with free drop-in creative activities and live demos for all ages led by local artists at our Creative Launch for St George’s Festival, 2024.

Meet a mesmerising Mandinga Arts custom-made puppet creature and try on costumes. Join Carey Outis as he shows you how to make puppets from willow and invites you to paint your own section of his dragon drawing. Choose materials and fabric with Ricki Outis and develop your own ideas for a St George’s Day parade costume.

Create shadow puppets with Liz Falconbridge and Karin Forman. Interact with the books in the library with poet Charley Genever, and ‘find’ words to complete a special poem. Try out a Tag Tool activity and create your own digital artwork with MarketPlace’s Creative Producer Louise Eatock.

Post your thoughts on the ideas wall of what you would like to see and do for St George’s Festival next April. Tell us which activities you most enjoyed at the Creative Launch – and if you missed this year’s Festival you can enjoy filmed highlights – or relive your favourite moments!

Wisbech Stories

Taking place at the Wisbech Adventure Playground, the workshop series is for ages 9+ and is led by artist Karin Forman, with playworkers on hand for support. The sessions cover creative activities such as screen-printing, clay work and crochet. The activities are inspired by objects from Wisbech & Fenland Museum, such as ‘witch’ bottles and Viking brooches. The young people taking part will be given exclusive hands-on access to the collection.

The first workshop will take place on Saturday 23 September from 1-4pm and will run for five consecutive Saturdays. The series is in collaboration with The Spinney Adventure Playground and Wisbech & Fenland Museum.

For more information and to book your space, email or speak to the playworkers at The Spinney Playground

National Play Day

Playday is the national day for play, celebrated each year across the UK on the first Wednesday in August.

MarketPlace works closely with the children and playworkers at The Spinney Adventure Playground, Wisbech. We were invited again to be part of this exciting annual event in the centre of Waterlees Estate.

The Playday theme for this year wasPlaying on a shoestring – making every day an adventure’, with the focus on the everyday low-cost or no-cost play adventures that children can enjoy at home, in settings, and in our communities.

Having spoken to the playworkers and children at the Spinney, they were keen to see something sculptural as well combining the textile elements from the Wisbech Stories arts programme MarketPlace is producing in partnership with the Spinney Adventure Playground and Wisbech & Fenland Museum.

MarketPlace put together an exciting activity pushing the boundaries of traditional cross stitching. Participants used yarn, string, cord and even shoe laces to stitch directly onto fence panels. This, alongside stitching onto some hessian fabric using coloured wools with Textile Designer Karin Forman, created a wonderful learning platform for children and adults alike. An inexpensive, frugal way to create, craft and play. Graffitiing with yarn!

One mother said how good it was for her son to improve his motor skills, through play. Other children were surprised at how much fun it was to stitch with coloured wool to make a picture. Someone asked if they could stitch on their fence at home – we said they had to ask their parents or carers first! But it shows how art, play and a few household items can engage the imagination.

The activity inspired participants to sit and play with string and yarn –  some people stayed for hours, stitching on the fence and fabric. We also handed out free cross stitch kits for those who were eager to continue the activity at home. 

Fancy Fencing was also a catalyst to inspire people to come and join in our Wisbech Stories programme taking place on Saturdays from 23  September to 21 October at the Spinney Adventure Playground.

Peggy Mends, Creative Producer, Fenland