Friday, 29 November 2019

Easyfundraising really IS easy

It's easy to raise money for Bridging Arts by shopping online: please remember us in the frenzy of Black Friday and Christmas shopping!
Easyfundraising really IS an easy way to raise money for a good cause.  You don't pay a penny, but the retailer gives a percentage of the sale price to us.
Here’s how you can get started: Go to
  • Type 'Bridging Arts' in the box, then click through and follow the links.
  • Once you've ordered, the retailer calculates the percentage of the sale price and pays it to us.
It's an easy way of supporting Bridging Arts. Your  help really DOES make a difference. Thank you!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Dance sessions for older people

Our dance and exercise sessions with residents at John Betts House, Hammersmith have just finished for the autumn (2o19).... They were led by Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli.....  John Betts House, run by Hammersmith United Charities, has wonderful gardens (pictured). There are more than 40 flats where residents can live independently.
Those who regularly attended the dance sessions loved them! Here's what they said they liked:
  • Clear instruction
  • The instructor was informative about the reasons for the individual exercises, and very positive. There was no feeling of competitiveness
  • Moving better
  • Getting active
  • I enjoyed the music and movement and felt better after!
  • Everything!!
  • Testing but not too painful
  • They are great. The feel good factor is terrific
A huge thank you to LocalGiving for a grant towards this work.
Simone Sistarelli specialises in work with older people. One of his most important projects is one specializing in people suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Click here to find out more about his work.

We've worked with him previously at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Exhibition just closing at Camborne Library

Our exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE now at Camborne Library  and Council offices is closing this week, slightly earlier than advertised on the poster. Apologies to all: however the Library has taken us by surprise by deciding to put up its Christmas displays....
The exhibition is available for free loan. It tells the story of a group of brave tin miners from Dolcoath who - more than 100 years ago - set off to the Western Front after World War One broke out in 1914.
Last year (August 2018), 100 years on from the end of the war, Camborne Youth Band followed in their footsteps and travelled back to France and Belgium to honour their memory.  Click here to view a film about the trip.
They took a 100-year-old bugle that belonged to one of these men, Fred Negus.  Fred’s great great grandson, Corey Williams, plays in the Band.
They also took a rugby ball, signed by current Cornwall and Devon teams, to honour the memory of three famous rugby matches played at the Front in 1915.
They visited:
  • Estaires, in northern France, where they played by the War Memorial and presented the rugby ball to the town
  • Sailly-sur-la-Lys, where a Cornishman from the Field Ambulance is buried
  • The Menin Gate, Ypres, where they played to a crowd of thousands.
The exhibition, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund,  tells the story of this history - and the Band's journey. For more information, please email

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

French students honour World War One dead this Remembrance Day

French students at the northern town of Estaires - on the Western Front throughout World War One - made a dignified and moving gesture to mark Remembrance Day this year (2019) by placing wooden crosses with handwritten messages on the hundreds of graves in their local cemetery.
Estaires was hit hard by World War One, virtually flattened after the German Spring Offensive in 1918. Prior to that, Field Hospitals had been operating in the town, based in local schools and factories. Many of the nearly 900 World War One dead who lie in Estaires cemetery died in those hospitals: the College du Sacre Coeur was one of them.
College du Sacre Coeur students braved the bitter cold to walk to the graveyard on Friday 15 November . They read Laurence Binyon's famous lines of remembrance and John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields.
The school band played the Marseillaise and the National Anthem.
"What beautiful and excellent work," said their teacher Anne Debette who, with her colleagues, worked extremely hard on this project.

Work last year

 The students, from the College du Sacre Coeur, have been working with us to mark World War One history over the past 18 months.  In 2018, they staged an exhibition with correspondence from Leslie Pentecost, a Cornish miner, and helped to reunite the descendants of the Smagghue family who in the war years befriended this soldier and other Cornishmen in the town.
Estaires Town Hall's communications expert Tony Haverland made a film of the whole event: click here to view.

Future work

We're looking forward to working with Anne further over the next few months, developing links between the College du Sacre Coeur and schools in Cornwall.

Friday, 15 November 2019

A still life in a vegetable crate

Loved this crate of vegetables outside an Italian cafe in Hammersmith near the river. Colours and composition worthy of a Dutch master.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Exhibition at Camborne Library, Cornwall, open Remembrance Sunday 12 noon to 1pm

Our free exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW will be open Camborne Library from 12 noon until 1pm on Remembrance Sunday .... so that people attending local church commemorations can attend after the service.... Beautiful knitted and crocheted poppies created by local people are still on sale in the library- all proceeds to the British Legion.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Poppy-making workshops in at a Camborne primary school

At St John's Catholic Primary School, Camborne for the second year running to mark Remembrance Day. Really engaged and lively students handled World War One artefacts and made poppies. Postcards to the Western Front written by St John's students are currently on display at Camborne Library as part of our exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW....

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Christmas card competition at St John's School, Camborne

We're looking forward to see entries for our competition for a Bridging Arts Christmas card this year. We've asked students at St John's Primary School, Camborne, to create entries showing what Christmas means to them. The winning entry will become our charity's card.
Closing date: 8 November 2019. The winner will be announced shortly after that ......

Monday, 4 November 2019

The Great Escape

Looking for traces of World War One Prisoner of War camps in Lower Silesia, Poland in September.... came across this, the famous tunnel Harry.  This was the site of the World War Two POW camp Stalag Luft 111,  near Zagan, where a mass escape was staged in March 1944 and immortalised in the film The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen.
Most of those who escaped were executed by the Nazis.
The remains of the camp are in the middle of these woods on the outskirts of the town.
They are not far from Szprotawa, a town nearby where Devon man Reginald Rice was interned. Rice was one of the 25th Field Ambulance and served alongside Cornish miners from Camborne and Redruth who signed up in 1914 under local doctor William Blackwood.
We don't, sadly, find any traces of what in World War One was called Sprottau POW camp. No one in the town knows about it - and it's a rainy Saturday with few people around to ask.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Banner outside Camborne Library

Good to see our exhibition banner outside Camborne Library.  PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW is currently on inside. All very welcome to our launch event on 7 November 2019 at 6pm at the library. We'll be launching a book about the Cornish miners who signed up in 1914 and served throughout the war in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Glimpse of Armistice Day 2018 in Estaires, France

A glimpse of Armistice Day, Estaires, last year when we visited the town with Alison Pooley and Carmen Saunders from Camborne, the granddaughers of Leslie Pentecost. Pentecost was a Cornish  miner who was based in the town with other Cornishmen at the start of the war.
Pentecost sent back many postcards which the family has kept carefully over the years. They are a unique record of the war, and tell the story of his friendship with the Smagghue family in Estaires.
Last year we reunited the Pentecost descendants with the Smagghues and hopefully laid the foundation for links between Cornwall and Estaires in the furure.   In the video, Alison and Carmen lay a wreath on the war memorial in Estaires cemetery.
We'll be telling this story at our launch event in Camborne on Thursday 7 November at 6pm at Camborne Library when we'll be launching a book gathering this - and other local stories - together.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Knitting poppies

Thanks to Tina Williams  of Barripper, near Camborne in Cornwall, lots of people have started crocheting and knitting poppies to be displayed at our exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW at Camborne Library. These poppies will be sold in aid of the British Legion ahead of Remembrance Day 2019.
Tina has tracked down good knitting and crochet patterns and crocheted many, many poppies herself. The knitting group at Camborne Library has also got involved.
A great example of someone's enthusiasm and dedication starting something really worthwhile.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A good use for filing cabinets

Really liked this display in the Royal Academy, Burlington House (which I now can't find any reference to on the website, so cannot say what it's called alas).
A great way to display busts. Filing cabinets are very solid. And so very uninspiring normally.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Launch event 7 November 2019 6pm - Playing for Camborne exhibition

All are very welcome at our exhibition launch event at 6pm on Thursday 7 November at Camborne Library and Council offices (The Cross TR14 8HA, Camborne, Cornwall.)
We'll be throwing a spotlight on the heroism of Cornishmen who served on the Western Front in World War One. Joining us will be their descendants and members of Camborne Youth Band.
PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW tells the previously untold stories of local miners who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914.
It also tells the story of Camborne Youth Band's trip to the Western Front in 2018, marking the end of the war. The great great grandson of one of the miners is in the Band and played his 100-year-old bugle brought back from the Front. Click here to listen to interviews with the Youth Band musicians.
These brave miners weren’t in the history books before: they are now. We’ve gathered together research about their heroism in a book that we’ll launch that night.
We'll also show a film about the trip, showcasing the brilliant playing of the Youth Band. Email or call 07772 128 014 for more information.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Welcome to our new Trustee!

We are delighted to welcome a new Trustee to Bridging Arts - Leonora Rae. Leonora's existing work with charities, in a responsible and sustainable investment firm, will bring valuable governance and investment knowledge to the board.

"As an art history graduate, I am delighted to join the board of Bridging Arts," she says. "I have seen art and art related activities bring communities and people together in the most wonderful ways. Susan and the Board have done a fabulous job to organise a whole host of diverse and interesting projects and I look forward to contributing to the development and success of future ones."

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Keeping up links with French WW1 town

Camborne MP George Eustice with Bruno Ficheux, Mayor of Estaires

A very good visit to London last week (16 October 2019) from our friends from Estaires, northern France, including the Mayor, Bruno Ficheux.

We have been jointly keeping up links between Estaires and Cornwall ever since we discovered that the 25th Field Ambulance (in which many Cornish miners from Camborne and Redruth were serving) was based in the town for the first part of World War One. We visited with Camborne Youth Band in 2018 and played in the graveyard where one of the Cornishmen is buried. One of the Band is the great great grandson of another of the miners and played his 100-year-old bugle brought back from WW1. We returned to Estaires on Armistice Day 2018 with other descendants of the miners and the local school put on an exhibition and play.

On their London visit, Mayor Ficheux, members of the town's historical association and teachers from the College du Sacre Coeur met Camborne MP George Eustice at Westminster.

A great day.

An exhibition about Camborne Youth Band's trip to France in August 2018 is currently on display at Camborne Library.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Camborne war memorial and a World War One exhibition

Lovely to see the War Memorial in Camborne, Cornwall, looking so well-cared for - it's the opposite of neglected!
The graveyard is neatly mown too. We find the grave of Dr William Blackwood who was such a prominent figure in the town from the turn of the century until his death in 1960.

Dr Blackwood was a key figure in setting up a St John Ambulance Division in the town and when World War One broke out in 1914, he led a group of miners to the Western Front. We've been working on this story for the past four years - more on the Bridging Arts website .
To mark Remembrance Day this year, our exhibition PLAYING FOR CAMBORNE: MUSIC AND RUGBY IN WORLD WAR ONE AND NOW will be on display in Camborne Library from early October.
Entry free and open to all.

Monday, 12 August 2019

First exercise session at John Betts House, Hammersmith

Great to start a series of dance and exercise sessions with a pretty large group of residents at John Betts House, Hammersmith, with Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli..... This was the first session. There'll be more in the autumn. John Betts House, run by Hammersmith United Charities, has wonderful gardens (pictured). There are more than 40 flats where residents can live independently.
A huge thank you to LocalGiving for a grant towards this work.
Simone Sistarelli specialises in work with older people. One of his most important projects is one specializing in people suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Click here for his website.

We've worked with him previously at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Feedback from our dance sessions for older people

Thanks to a grant from Localgiving’s Magic Little Grants programme, we were able to stage dance/exercise sessions for up to 30 older people at the Masbro Centre, Hammersith, London. The Centre runs a befriending service for isolated and disadvantaged older people.
These sessions were led by Italian dancer Simone Sistarelli who started with simple warm up movements for everyone – including people whose mobility was impaired – then ended with a full dance session. The idea was for people to learn simple exercises and positions that they could practise at home. 
The elders who participated in the classes said that they thoroughly enjoyed them and wanted more. They enjoyed Simone’s approach which made exercise ‘fun’.

He wanted the classes to brighten up the day if everything seemed miserable – and this is what happened. “I don’t want to be cheese-y but movement can make you happy. We’re going to go crazy and TAKE the happiness!” he said. People particularly enjoyed the dance sequences at the end, and practised between sessions.
“I liked the bit of routine with a funky rhythm. I felt like Michael Jackson. I want to do the Moon Walk next time.”
“I found that every part of the body had been exercised.”

Elders participating in the dance sessions at the Masbro Centre

Sunday, 23 June 2019

New work from artist Max Whetter

Great to see Max Whetter's second year show in his degree course at Cornwall College, Pool. This is work of real quality: very interesting takes on the famous self portrait by John Opie at the Royal Cornwall Museum.  Max won our competition for a new skateboard design in 2016. At the time he was working as a burger chef in Newquay.
This show now moves on in fact to the Museum in Truro, so there'll be a chance (hopefully) to see the original work that inspired Max.
Well worth a visit!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Camborne Youth Band star takes centre stage as soloist

Great to see Camborne Youth Band star soloist Aaron Thomas topping the bill at this concert in Camborne next month.
Aaron played at the Menin Gate during our trip to the World War One battlefields last year and came second in the regional finals of the Rotary Club Young Musician of the Year in March. 
Wonderful that he is now branching out. A big career ahead. 
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Monday, 29 April 2019

Keeping World War One history alive at Trevithick Day

It was a blustery Saturday but spirits were high at the Donald Thomas Centre, Camborne, where we staged part of our exhibition Playing For Camborne at Trevithick Day on Saturday. 
Alison Pooley looked amazing in a World War One Red Cross uniform .... Thank you to Wenches in Trenches for loaning us this. 
We're gathering together more stories ahead of the full exhibition being staged at Camborne Library and Council offices this November. We will be publishing a booklet with all the stories we've gathered.  The exhibition looks at a group of miners from Dolcoath who signed up in World War One and Camborne Youth Band who followed in their footsteps to the Western Front in August last year.
Alison Pooley with Hannah Viant (left) and Corey Williams (right) of Camborne Youth Band

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Camborne seeks out World War One history this Trevithick Day

Trevithick Day (27 April 2019) in Camborne will have an extra layer of history this year as the town searches for the descendants of a group of miners from Dolcoath who joined up in 1914 and served throughout World War One.

The descendants of some of these men still live locally and are keen to find out more about their ancestors’ history. They will be staging an exhibition at the Donald Thomas Centre and are keen to make contact with Camborne families who have history and memorabilia from that time.

Men like Fred Negus, Leslie Pentecost, Fred Head, Ernie Fletcher and James Phillips were among a group of about 30 miners who signed up as soon as the war with Germany started in August 1914. They were trained as ambulance men at Dolcoath, where there were often terrible accidents. This was good preparation for life at the Front and after a brief stop in Salisbury, they went straight out to the battlefields.

“We would like to know more about all the men in the group,” says Ralph Williams, grandson of Fred Negus who ended up as a Prisoner of War in Germany. Fred brought back a 1914 bugle, which was played back on the Western Front last year by Ralph’s son, Corey, who is in Camborne Youth Band.

In 1915 in France, the men organised three rugby matches between Cornish and Devon servicemen after Camborne Rugby Club sent out a ball. The names of the team were published in local newspapers at the time. One was Jack Solomon, a rugby player from Redruth, who played in three matches but sadly died a year later of disease on the Somme.

The descendants of Fred Negus still have a photo of rugby team at the Front and are hoping that some of the faces might be familiar to exhibition visitors.

Alison Pooley and her family are descended from Leslie Pentecost, who went out to France in 1914 leaving his sweetheart Lillie (eventually his wife) behind. Lillie trained as a Red Cross nurse, as well as working in the local munitions factory: Alison will be wearing a WW1 Red Cross nurse uniform on Saturday.

All history and information gathered will be on display at Camborne Library and Council offices for Remembrance Day 2019.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

A short story machine

This sounds a great idea!... 
UK's first short-story dispensers to be installed in London's Canary Wharf
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Daffodil pickers next year?

Endless confusion and anxiety still about Brexit and its impact on migrant workers - particularly in agriculture.These links circulated by the wonderful Ellie Molesey of Inclusion Cornwall could be very useful background reading:

Seasonal Workers Pilot
(agricultural industry recruitment from Ukraine, Moldova and Russia):



Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Two meetings in Truro on migrant workers

A week of meetings ....
After Camborne on Monday, two more good meetings in Truro yesterday on migrant workers. The first with Carl Warom who deals with Brexit matters at Cornwall Council (not an enviable task! Carl used to be a philosophy researcher  . A real change of path but perhaps philosophy helps in turbulent times).
Then with Andrew Yates, the Diocese of Truro's Social Responsibility officer. We're making plans to do more workshops in schools and with community groups. 
Andrew is so busy and always on the road between meetings. So we met st Truro station before he caught the train back to Penzance.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

First steps in next stage of World War One history project

Two good meetings in Camborne yesterday
- at St John's Catholic Primary School where we're hoping to forge links with a  school in Estaires
- with descendants of Cornish miners from Dolcoath who went out to the Front in 1914
All part of the next stage of our work in Cornwall on World War One history- funded by the National Lottery Heritage  Fund.  More about that here 
Susan Roberts
Bridging Arts
Tel: 07772 128 014

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Unveiling of World War One memorial at Penponds Church

As part of our project Heart of Conflict, we've been looking at local World War One history. Now the centenary of the conflict has passed, we're looking at the years immediately after the war. Many memorials were unveiled then, as people remembered all those who died.
In Penponds, the War Memorial is unusual in that it is in the fabric of the church i.e. the porch, rather than outside.
It was designed by Canon James Sims Carah who was vicar of the parish from 1896 to 1935. Canon Carah, a local man, was responsible for the impressive oak carvings, windows and bench ends in the church today. Originally the building, consecrated in 1854, had a stark and plain granite interior.
Canon Carah, who grew up in Praze, had a vision of something very different. He worked tirelessly to create a building with a splendid fabric and interior, very much in a High Church tradition.
The porch, dedicated in December 1922, was part of this. Canon Carah explained at the time.
The idea was to turn ‘the present porch, as far as possible, into a sort of chapel commemorating all those who gave their lives for us,” he told the local paper.   A total of £300, a large sum at the time, was raised to create it - the equivalent of about £10,000 today.
It was intended to commemorate not only men from Penponds who died in the conflict, but also those who died who were connected in any way with the church and congregation. There are names of men who were studying at Camborne School of Mines, as well as those from local families.
The whole of the main porch was relined in granite in which were inserted four panels of Swedish marble, inscribed with the names of those who died.
Above the marble are carved panels of polyphant stone (also known as ‘Cornish soapstone’). One panel is called ‘The Great Sacrifice’ and has the inscription ‘No man has greater love than this’.
The other shows St Edward, St George and St Michael, said to be the guardian saints of soldiers.
On the roof in gold letters there are the words ‘Lord who dost our souls redeem, Grant blessed Requiem.’  All the work was done locally – apart from the stone carved panels which were sent away to be completed.
A new gate to the porch was made of wrought iron and a new lamp was donated by a Miss Holman (sadly this has since been stolen).  The Holmans were a rich and influential family locally at the time.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A glimpse of Cornwall in the National Poetry Library

I'd never been to the National Poetry Library and didn't even know it was in the Royal Festival Hall. But it's worth a visit, particularly to see the current exhibition - a recreation of W. S. Graham's study, the poet who was based in west Cornwall and died in 1986.  Irritatingly, the exhibition is short of any biographical detail or explanation so I'm not quite sure where W S Graham lived (though a Google search says Madron).
But the study that's been recreated looks out on to Gurnard's Head, quite a view. And there is a lovely poem in memory of his friend, the artist Peter Lanyon (killed in a gliding accident), on the wall.
More here.
I called today, Peter, and you were away.
I look out over Botallack and over Ding
Dong and Levant and over the jasper sea.

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