Historic Leeds house inspires community group to create own pottery collection

Caption: (L-R)-Helen Pratt, assistant community curator at Temple Newsam House, Carol O'Neile, member of Osmondthorpe Resource Centre pottery group with an example of her work and John Roles, head of Leeds museum and galleries.

Superb handmade pottery produced by a group of adult learners with physical disabilities has been showcased at a historic house in Leeds this week.

This follows a previous visit to Temple Newsam House made by the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre group as part of a workshop focusing on ‘The Leeds Pottery’, which is one of the largest collections of Creamware in the country. So inspired were the participants by what was on offer, they made a request to create their own pottery at the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre, guided by their YMCA tutor.

After viewing the quality of their work, assistant community curator at Temple Newsam House Helen Pratt, was so impressed that she requested the collection be put on display to the public.

Following its launch at Temple Newsam House, the display will subsequently be showcased at Leeds Discovery Centre from 1 April. Visitors will also have the opportunity to find out more about the success of this project delivered by this collaborative partnership, which included Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds YMCA and Osmondthorpe Resource Centre.

As part of the aim to enable more groups and organisations to engage and interact with the history and collections located at the city’s museum and gallery sites, the council has a small group of community curators who creatively interpret the collections and engage local communities through new experiences and displays.

Response to these types of projects has been extremely positive and has had a profound impact on improving confidence, skills and general health and wellbeing of the participants. One such recent project was a partnership created between Temple Newsam House and Zest (Health for Life), supporting women with mental health issues. The project, named Beau and Belles, explored issues of health and wellbeing by looking into the historic traditions of life at Temple Newsam House.

This included an initiative which explored herbs and flowers traditionally used to make sweet purses to mask body odours in the 18th century. This was followed by demonstrations of the use of aromatherapy oils and the group working in pairs giving hand and arm massages to each other. These were great activities that allowed the group to not only learn about the history linked to Temple Newsam House through experience, but also to take practical tips away relating to managing stress and a balanced lifestyle.

To find out more about how your community group can work with Leeds Museums and Galleries on a particular project, please contact: museumsandgalleries@leeds.gov.uk.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

"The quality of pottery produced by the group based at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre was absolutely fantastic, and we are delighted to showcase this collection at Temple Newsam House, before it moves to a new home at the Leeds Discovery Centre in April.

"The enthusiasm of the group was superb, and this project highlights the creativity of people in Leeds, no matter what their personal circumstances. I hope there will be more opportunities in the future to hold exhibitions by people of all skills and abilities."

Helen Pratt, assistant community curator at Temple Newsam House said:

"We work with a range of local community groups and organisations on projects that incorporate the history and collections of Temple Newsam House, and we were delighted to welcome users from Osmondthorpe Resource Centre to our Leeds Pottery workshop.

"Our aim through projects such as this one is to inspire, and it was brilliant to hear that following their visit, the group had decided to create their own pottery. Such was the high standard of their work, it was only right I felt that the public had the opportunity to see their collection, and there was no better place to have the launch than Temple Newsam House."

Notes to editors:

Temple Newsam House:

Described as 'the North's best kept secret' by Mark Fisher in his book Britain's Best Museums and Galleries and Famous as the birth place of Lord Darnley, notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots, Temple Newsam House is a truly impressive Tudor-Jacobean mansion. Described as one of the best historic houses in Britain and beautifully restored to its former glory, it is now home to one of the most important collections of decorative arts in Britain. Find out more www.leeds.gov.uk/templenewsam

Leeds YMCA:

Leeds YMCA is an independent local charity that is governed, owned and accountable to the local community. Its Board of Management is made up of users of the facilities and local individuals who have an historical connection with the YMCA. The Boards main focus is to provide programmes and services for young people and children that are accessible and provide opportunities that allow the development of body, mind and spirit. Find out more www.leedsymca.org

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre:

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre helps anyone with a physical impairment and/or a head injury. They offer a variety of activities within the centre, but can also help to build confidence and promote independence so that people can visit other places. People who attend the centres can learn new skills, join support groups, socialise, be creative or simply have fun. Each person using the service is supported through consultation to identify an individual programme that best meets their needs and has realistic outcomes. Find out more www.leeds.gov.uk/physicalimpairment

Leeds Discovery Centre:

Leeds Discovery Centre is a state-of-the-art storage facility and centre for learning and exploration. Leeds Discovery Centre houses and cares for the collections of art, fashion and textiles, industrial history, social history and natural science that belong to the people of Leeds. The Discovery Centre offers community groups the chance to work with objects, research local areas and explore the collections in all sorts of projects. It is also open for research purposes by appointment and for regular drop in tours of the store facilities on Thursdays (11am and 2pm). Leeds Discovery Centre is part of Leeds Museums and Galleries, a family of nine museum sites throughout the city and managed by Leeds City Council. Find out more www.leeds.gov.uk/discoverycentre

Zest: (Health for Life)

Zest offer support and opportunities to people living in disadvantaged areas of Leeds, addressing health inequalities and social isolation through activities which improve physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. Find out more www.zesthealthforlife.org

Colin Dickinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

4th Floor West

Leeds Civic Hall

Tel: (0113) 395 1578