The project will offer exciting career development opportunities for newly qualified artists to work with the team of professional Community Arts Workers. The professional artists will mentor the less-experienced artists throughout the arts projects, guiding them through the practicalities of running community projects and giving them first-hand experience of running community-based workshops in Newton Abbot.









The first phase of the workshop programme has included three early career workshop artists working alongside the lead artists. The three mentees are Anna Cantoni, Oscar Holland and Emily Swann. They have been working under the guidance of lead artists; Tony Gee, Doug King-Smith and Carol Timms. We have asked the mentees to keep a journal about their experiences, plotting what they have learnt as they have joined in with the workshop activities. The mentees have worked with the lead artists through the process of planning, devising and delivering each workshop.

We asked the mentees to write something about themselves to add to this page and we will add more thoughts from them about their workshop experience as they complete their mentoring experience.

Anna Cantoni:- Anna is an artist and facilitator with a background in performance writing. She has also trained with the Institute for Earth Eduction, leading 'EARTHWALKS'. She currently works with the Moveable Feast Workshop Company, primarily with children and young people. She also works for Northern Drum Shamanic Centre as a facilitator on their programme for young people ”eagle's dream”. She is deeply passionate about community, rutural and our relationship with the land. She is interested in bringing these themes into a creative and accessible discourse through story and performance.

Anna writes: "i find myself in the midst of a process of shaping and defining my practice as an artist and writer. i find it quite difficult to talk about my practice as it feels like a constantly shifting and evolving mass that i swim about in. it is hard to see the edges. i write, and make and photograph but a coherent thread as to what it is i "do" dangles just beyond my reach.
So, this process is currently a gathering up, of what i love, what is important, what excites me as an artist, and a questioning of; how can i make this work? are these things of value to society that is dismantling its arts organizations in favour of bailing out bankers?

It is really great for me to be involved with the Heart of Oak Project
it gives me a focus
it gives me invaluable experience of working in primary schools
it is an honor to work with Tony and benefit from his well of experience.

it is also totally inspiring to be working with younger children. (i have not worked in primary schools before) i think it is important for me to be learning about my practice by "practicing"! My hope is to put away for a while the secateurs of my analytical mind and let the branches find their own way.

Oscar Holland:- Oscar is a wood worker who is interested in turning his skills into a medium for working with people. He is being mentored by wood artist, Doug King-Smith to explore the process of turning a craft and skill into an accessible art activity.

Oscar writes :

"Hello! My name is Oscar and my passion is working wood as a sculptural medium. Although I was primarily trained as a carpenter, a series of fortunate events lead to me working with a team of wood sculptors at Glastonbury festival a couple of years ago which renewed my artistic interests and set me on the path I find myself on now. I find the process of wood carving to be highly theraputic and confidence-inspiring and it is through discovering this that has lead me to want to share this with other people. Being involved with the Heart of Oak Project has enabled me to learn firsthand the process of devising and running carving workshops under the mentorship of an established workshop artist so that I might be able to pass on my skills and interests to a public audience utilising the experience and insights I have gained.


Emily has a varied background in the arts with a passion for creativity and artwork that connects with the outdoor environment and the natural world.She is being mentored by Carol Timms with a focus on running community based workshops in felt making.

Emily Swann writes:

With a background in fine art, craft and alternative, nature based education for children, I have always had a huge passion for creativity. Recently i left my work in school to concentrate on art, and have since worked with Puppetcraft on scenery, and Aune Head Arts creating artwalks. The last few years i have combined my narrative illustrations with my desire to learn rural skills by turning the characters into felted dolls. Having worked in education and various craft, food and gardening workshops in the past i am looking to move forward to creating my own workshops. I am hoping that through Heart Of Oak, i will receive support from my mentor to highlight practical issues of workshop facilitation using felt for different age groups. Though i have been involved in workshops before, i have as yet never offered them in my own artistic practice, and i hope that through my growing experience and confidence, this project enables me to do so.

On finishing her work alongside Carol Timms, Emily has written:

" During Heart of Oak i took part in the delivery of five workshops. My main task was to prepare the background of fleece for felting and being of assistance to my mentor. Before the workshops i was briefed about the day and expectations of how i may be involved. With the museum volunteers, i found that the workshops were straight forward and relaxed. Not much was needed from me as all the volunteers were happy creating and experimenting. It was interesting to see how to begin; Carol offered an introduction to the project and offerings of celebrations to metaphorically weave into the felt. The overall mood of the room was so calm i didn't feel much input was needed on behalf of us; even the singing which began when we were rolling, was a spontaneous surprise on behalf of the women. I observed how this gentle environment was allowing the women to drop into a safe space where tales began to stir and memories unfold. I wondered about all the stories that have been told whilst hands are creating in creative meditation.I wondered if these stories would still unfold if the group was made up of men.
The school workshop in comparison had a very different mood. The day began with a lesson about fleece and a song; and ended with a song and a story. Whereas the women were free to come and go and chat and drink tea, the children were led into an active learning environment. Space and safety became more of an issue and a variety of approaches and attitudes from the children led to more interaction with myself and them. In the museum, the layout of the room and the seating of chairs could be used to create an intimate environment; in the classroom it was more difficult to boundary or enhance the space with so many people.
Having been involved in workshops and educational settings before, from this project i wished to gain more of an insight into how to teach felt making specifically, how to tailor it to different groups, the amount of materials, the set up of work spaces and health and safety concerns that i may not have already considered. Meeting with Carol and watching her delivery has helped me to see a way of offering felt making, and potentially using this a template for other crafts. With the experience of a longer term project on one specific art form than one off workshops, i hope to be be able to take on my own ideas and have more opportunities present themselves."

Many thanks to Emily for her hard work on the project and we hope that her experience enriches her career path in the future.