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Volunteer Profile: Alistair Nixon

We asked volunteer Alistair Nixon to write a few words about his experience helping at the school.

Volunteer Alistair Nixon

Volunteer Alistair Nixon

Here’s what he told us…

“I’ve now volunteered at the Saltburn School on a few occasions, helping out in the run up the Saltburn Arts Fair at the beginning of August, when the building officially opened.

I was excited when I first heard about the possible transfer of the school to the community, and relieved when I heard that it had been approved.

I’d been a pupil at the school in the early 1990s, when it was Saltburn Primary School, and I have fond memories of it. After all, a primary school is not like a secondary school, which (from my memories at least) is all more or less awkwardness and exams.

To be honest, I’d been itching to go back in there and look around since the day I left. Walking into the school for the first time again, however, it was hard to think it had ever been a functioning school in the first place. The years had not been kind: some electrics were exposed, dust covered most of the floors (which were missing more than a few floorboards), the paint on the walls was cracked and brown with damp and great rectangles on the walls, remaining from where board displays had been torn away, exposed plaster not seen for decades. Some rooms had been vandalised during a break in a few years ago. Debris and artifacts from years gone by cluttered most of the rooms.

My contribution has been abysmally marginal compared to those who have toiled through the days into the evenings to get the building up to scratch. (That work continues, even now.)

I’ve been involved in various tasks, which, running things off the top of my head, has included: painting walls, stripping walls, repainting walls, pulling nails out of floors, moving cupboards, sweeping floors, scraping and then soaping away industrial glue from floors, mopping floors, drying floors (sacrificing a few bath towels in the process) and finally making the odd cup of tea.

The hardest task of all, however, has been trying to remain focused enough not to go wandering off through the old corridors, exploring the empty classrooms, and reminiscing and reflecting on my own memories of the school.
The first time I went up to help out, while I was off ‘exploring’ I was introduced to another former pupil, who was doing precisely the same. She was the grandmother of one of the volunteers helping out. Generations separated us, but it turns out we had both shared the same classroom. We all know the school building, but it’s moments like that you realise just how many of us, spanning generations, that “we” consists of, and how significant a part of Saltburn that this building indeed is.

A school is there to give us the space to grow, expand our horizons, explore new ideas, make a bit more sense of the world around us and the things that we can do in it. The great promise of The Saltburn School is enabling that tradition to continue. It’s so neat you sort of wonder how the school building could ever have become something else.

A great deal more work still needs to be done. I’d recommend to anyone to take a visit and help out. That might be by painting walls and mopping floors. Or it could simply be by wandering off through the classrooms, reminiscing about the school’s past and – more importantly – reflecting upon the possibilities for its future. After all, the Saltburn School is a space in the hands of the community, and if that future is to be shaped by anyone, it’s us.”

Art Transport for Hire!

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Yup this is really how we move pieces of art around whilst in a rush. Well if a seatbelt works for a human we’ve at least got a little chance with a framed picture… right?

Apologies for the out of focus picture, but we were in a car and I am only an amateur!

Big Day Tomorrow

So we’re waiting with pensive breath. Geoff Lynas, Maureen’s husband, has let us know that she’ll be finding out tomorrow if her pot can come off and how much pyhsio she’ll need:

Big, big day tomorrow. The pot comes off and we find out what the damage is. How much physio is required and how much longer Maureen is going to be ‘inconvenienced’/in pain/sleep-deprived. As broken wrists go its been pretty good so far. Obviously nowhere near as good as not having a broken wrist. Maureen’s been counting the sleeps and now its ‘one to go’ she’s very pleased. Further update after the X-Ray and pot removal.

Geoff Lynas

Fingers crossed for Maureen.

UPDATE

All is well and the bone is knitting. Maureen still has some work to do for things to get back to normal but we’re all glad she’s on the mend fully.

Cafe is Open for Business

Back row, L to R: Tammy Guy-Jobson, Margaret Guy-Jobson and Peter Neal.

So after the success of the 1st Saltburn Arts Fair we had so many kind comments about the cafe we’ve decided to open it every weekend form 10am to 4pm for the duration of the summer holidays.

If you haven’t been to the school before, the cafe is at the heart of the building and can be accessed either through the front doors on Marske Road or down the steps from Marske Mill Lane through the playground.

What we serve

To Eat

A selection of home made cakes and biscuits are made every week, varying from £1 to £3.

To Drink

Yorkshire Tea £1
Fairtrade Filter Coffee £1
Various Squashes 50p

We’re child friendly

The cafe is a great place to take the kids. In the adjacent room, which is well on it’s way to becoming the Saltburn Reading Room, we have decided for the duration of the summer to leave up Christine Walkers’ engagement piece of art where children are invited to draw on the walls and floor with chalk. Read more about Christine’s work here.

We also have seating outside in the old playground, which is a sun trap, where you can enjoy a cuppa whilst your children play the old games painted onto the playground including some we don’t even know the name of (so if you do please tell)!

Thanks

We’d like to thank Tammy Guy-Jobson one of our volunteers for agreeing to run the cafe over the summer weekends. Go Tammy!

Saltburn Arts Fair

Classroom Portraits, by Julian Germain

Classroom Portraits, by Julian Germain

1,000 people, two days. The inaugural Saltburn Arts Fair has to count as the most successful event we’ve ever held in over 30 years as an arts charity. What started as a careless promise that if we had the school we’d be happy to host “an” exhibition, has been transformed, since the 23rd May, along with the building itself, into a lead exhibition by renowned photographer Julian Germain and supported by over a dozen other artists including the inaugural exhibition from our very first artist in residence Emily Hesse.

With only a few days to spare we managed to get the cafe ready so that it was able to be up and running catered and staffed by volunteers including the inestimable Tammy Guy-Jobson and many more. It was such a success that we’ve decided to open the cafe for the rest of the summer holidays.

Many of the exhibiting artists attended the event themselves to talk to the public about their work, including internationally-known photographer Julian Germain, who gave a talk on his Classroom Portraits exhibition on the Saturday.

The weekend was a great success, thank you to everyone who came.

Gallery

Another Article in The Northern Echo

The Article

The school was featured in The Northern Echo for the second time on Thursday 9th August.

The Article

Former school is now arts facility

VOLUNTEERS spent thousands of hours transforming a derelict school into a community arts facility.

The old Saltburn Junior School has been renovated at a cost of just £1,000 after a roofer, furniture restorer, painter and decorator and hundreds of members of the community pitched in.

Dozens of volunteers worked every day until the early hours to have the centre, in Marske Mill Lane, opened in time for Saltburn’s first arts festival last weekend.

The 1903 neo-Georgian building closed in 2009. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council was considering selling it, but instead was persuaded to transfer it, for a peppercorn rent of £1 a year, to Saltburn Community Arts ASsociation which got the keys on May 23 this year.

Some key renovation work was completed by youngsters who were doing community sentences as ordered by the courts.

However much more work, totalling many thousands of hours, was completed by ordinary members of the public who wanted to help.

Peter Neal, project manager, said: “We literally had people coming in off the street saying, ‘what can I do?’ We would just give them a brush and point them at all a wall. We’ve had people working days cleaning paint off tiles or glue from the floors. It’s been from all sections of the community.”

Mr Neal, said the trustees have received £27,500 in grants from Comic Relief, the Social Investment Fund and the Tees Valley Community Fund.

Community and commercial groups will be able to rent the space in the building or pay in kind. For example, old cabinets that are being used int he cafe were found in another part of the building and have been restored by furniture restoration business Peeling Paint, which will soon be setting up shop in the facility.

The centre will be open every Saturday from the next month and there will be exhibitions, artist residencies and a town archive.

Find out more at saltburnschool.co.uk

By Chris Webber

Third Community Action Weekend

Joel scrubbing the cafe floor

Joel’s doing a really great job scrubbing that floor!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the third Community Action Weekend on July 28 and 29. We had over 20 adult volunteers (and countless children) give up a large portion of their weekend to help us out.

Jobs done included painting the exhibition spaces, scrubbing the wooden floors of the the ghastly glue, sanding the walls, and of course sweeping the floors and cleaning.

Thank you to all volunteers that helped out, too many to name everyone, which include Caed Parker, Bob Mitchell, Becky Mitchell, Carl Mole, Simon Palmer, Alistair Nixon, Lizzie Brown, Benjamin Woodrow.

Special shout out goes to student Joel, who scrubbed the cafe floor the whole day, not an easy job!

Gallery

Amazing Light

So it’s just a few days to go before the 1st Saltburn Arts Fair and we’re running behind. Way behind! But the light in this photo, taken in the Recital Room, shows you just how spectacular this space is going to be!

What is Emily up to?

The mystery surrounding our Artist in Residence Emily Hesse’s inagural exhibition at The Saltburn School for the 1st Saltburn Arts Fair is causing much debate amongst the volunteers.

Does this photo give anyone any ideas? Thoughts on a postcard (or in the comments ;-))

Emily's Feet

Any clues in Emily’s feet?

UPDATE

See Emily’s Full Exhibition here.

Blue Babies

The first of three blue babies are installed on to the walls of the Saltburn School as part of the celebrations of the cultural olympiad by Bob Mitchell and Mark Parham. They’ll be taken down at the end of the paralympics.

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For more information about this project please see here.

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