Monday, November 19, 2012

Pinhole Photography

Pinhole image of part of The Higgins' buildings
The redevelopment of The Higgins has created some fabulous new gallery spaces, one of which will be used for exhibitions of work by local people and is provisionally called the Community Gallery. When we reopen in Spring 2013, the first exhibition in this gallery will be a group show called Sense of Place, curated by artists Alex Julyan and Lucy Wilson. Ten local community organisations are currently preparing work in a range of media including lace, rushwork, sculpture, furniture making, embroidery, watercolour, spoken word and film.

One of the techniques we have been exploring for the exhibition with a group of residents from Wixams is pinhole photography. With financial support from Gallagher Homes, we have held a couple of hands on workshops to try this method of very basic photography and have had some interesting results. We are still looking for more people to get involved so if you live or work in Wixams and would like to give it a go, give me a call on 01234 276363, email or speak to BPHA Community Development Officer Linda Whitfield on 07545936347.

Pinhole photographs are taken with a 'camera' made from a box or biscuit tin that has been painted black inside. A tiny hole is made using a sewing needle in a piece of metal cut from a drinks can and this is taped over a larger hole in the tin. A negative image is then created by exposing a sheet of photographic paper inside the tin to light entering through the tiny hole for one or two minutes. There are lots of sites on the internet that give you full instructions on how to do this - see below for links. The benefits of this method of 'lensless' photography include infinite depth of field (i.e. both the foreground and background are in focus), atmospheric images, wide angle shots and the opportunity to experiment with more than one hole to create multiple exposures. We plan to hold some open pinhole workshops when we reopen so anyone can come and have a try. Here are a few of our experiments so far.

Jana's negative - taken outside Wilstead village hall with a Foxes biscuit tin

To save time in the darkroom, technology is then used to scan and reverse the image to create a positive.

Paul used a vintage Quality Street tin to capture this multiple image.

Laura's experiments from Bedford Park and Priory Country Park   

 Pinhole links.........

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bedford's Flagtastic Summer

As the days grow shorter we are reflecting on a successful summer of events, activities and project work to engage new audiences and collect material that can help us represent our whole community in new displays and exhibitions.

We have been working with local film company Film Infinity to capture footage of annual events in Bedford and the surrounding area. We were rained off on the day of the 149th annual Bedford Regatta back in May,  but we did manage to get some great footage of rowing at the Sprint Regatta in July despite further rain. That day we were also able to capture footage of the torch relay as it passed along the Embankment and were delighted to see so many local people embrace the excitement of the Olympics.

The weather was kinder to us in August when we filmed members of the local Bedford Italian community from St Francesca Cabrini  Italian Church taking part in an annual parade of Saints. We also had great weather for the Bedfordshire Steam and Country Fayre in September and were able to get some beautiful shots of steam ploughing that we can use to illustrate museum displays. Over the autumn we hope to record people in Bedford marking Black History Month, celebrations for Guru Nanak's birthday at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Queen's Park and members of the Gujarati Mitra Mandal taking part in the Hindu festival of Navratri.

Members of  the Bedford Italian community carrying Saints representing many of the villages where the first generation, who came to Bedford in the 1950s, were born. (Image © Film Infinity and The Higgins)

We were inspired by local photographer Brenton Jackson to put together an International Flag Parade in August to celebrate the opening of the Olympic Live Site at Bedford International Athletics Stadium. We worked with local youth leadership group Ethnic Mosaic (part of Uprising Bedford) to promote the event and people from 35 different countries took part.

 Photos © Brenton Jackson

We also held an international themed pop-up museum at the Athletics Stadium as part of Ethnic Mosaic's big family 'Olympicnic' and had some very unusual exhibits, including this model of the Eiffel Tower, bought by Paul Nicholson in his favourite country - India.  He did not discover until he had brought it home on the plane that it actually conceals a dagger!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Activities with The Higgins

Over the school holidays our Audience Development Officer Laura Pottinger will be getting to know people by offering some creative activities in some of our newest housing developments at Wixams and Great Denham. If you live near either of those areas you would be most welcome to come along and join in!

For more information call 01234 718627 or email

At Great Denham we will be in gazebos on the kick about area off Mercia Road and sessions are free with no need to book, just come along:

Morning sessions from 10am - 12 noon for younger children accompanied by an adult.

Thursday 2nd August - clay modelling Olympian figures to take home

Tuesday 14th August - using recycled materials to make junk bugs

Friday 31st August - make Medieval shields and heraldry

Afternoon sessions from 2pm - 4pm for 12+ who must bring an emergency contact number.

Look out for the Rave Bus - a mobile venue for youth activities!

Thursday 2nd August - Screen print a canvas bag (or bring your own light coloured T-shirt to print)

Tuesday 14th August - make 3D models from plaster and wire

Friday 31st August - Drama - re-enact the Great Siege of Bedford Castle with costumes and props

(some images from family sessions last year)

At Wixams we delivering family sessions alongside Community Development Officer Linda Whitfield of BPHA, so to book call her on 07545936347. There is a charge of £1 per child that will go towards materials for future activities when the new village hall opens. Until then we are on the green by Lakeview School.

Thursday 16th  August 1.30pm - 3.30pm - Pottery of the past, make Medieval tiles and Saxon pots

Thursday 30th  August 1.30pm - 3.30pm - The Story of The Great Siege with dressing up and drama

You may also see Laura this summer if you attend Southways Early Childhood Centre or Kingsbrook Children's Centre as she will be doing some more creative activities with families there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Where or What Says 'Home' to You?

Every year events take place all over the country in June to mark Refugee Week and celebrate the cultural, social and economic contribution made by refugees to life in the UK.

Keen to support activities locally, we organised a pop-up museum in Harpur Square, Bedford as part of the launch event. Visitors were asked to bring an object that reminded them of home - however they chose to define home. We had some wonderful contributions and they sparked great conversations about home, heritage, family, exile and the objects you would grab if you had to leave your house in a hurry. What would you take to remind you of home?

Carmela Semeraro grew up in a 'Trullo' house just like this in Puglia in the South of Italy. I was struck how much more aware you became of the unusual shape of the building with its round rooms when looking at a model of it rather than a photograph. Lots of people commented on how the thick walls would keep you cool in summer and warm in the winter.

Local artist (and Borough Councillor) Kirsty Adams brought this very moving record of the people who live on her street. 'Howbury Street Permanent or Transient' is a printers tray filled with photographs on wooden blocks of her neighbours taken 14 years ago then revisited seven years later. She spoke movingly about how she is due to photograph everyone again but doesn't feel able to do so as several of the families have lost loved ones in the last seven years.

Always good for a literary link, Sally Heard from Bedford Central Library brought along Paddington. Not only does he remind her of her own childhood and that of her children, he was also an appropriate guest for Refugee Week given that he arrived alone from 'deepest, darkest Peru' and found refuge with the Brown family.

The highlight of the launch event was a song from a choir of children from Livingstone Lower School. For further details of these and other events during Refugee Week see  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reigning and Raining

Flag bunting
Despite having to call off a couple of outdoor events, we have had a very jolly time this month marking the Jubilee with local groups.

Of all the many metres of bunting we have made, this string produced by adults who attend the Bedford Centre is one of my favourites.

We made rather superior crowns at St Paul's Church 'square party' and had a great response from local people when we supported the BIG Picnic in Jubilee Park.

Who could say no to a church warden who looks like this!

Two special awards go to the Queen's Park Neighbourhood Centre team for services to the Jubilee, one for the genius throne they made for their party, for babies to have a go at reigning with crown and sceptre and the other for the most beautiful piece of hand painted bunting I have seen all year (and I have seen a lot!). 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Half Term with The Higgins

Half Term with The Higgins - Four Days of Fun!

Sunday 2nd June - Big Victorian Jubilee Picnic

Wednesday 6th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - Wootton Village Hall
Thursday 7th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - Great Denham kickabout area
Friday 8th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - Wixams Village Hall

Sunday 2nd June - Big Victorian Jubilee Picnic - The Queen's Diamond Jubilee - with a twist! 

We are celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on the lawn beside The Higgins, on Sunday 3rd June between 11am and 4pm, in Victorian style! There will be flag and bunting-making and traditional toys and games to play, so bring a picnic and doff a jaunty hat or bonnet, for a pleasant and rewarding celebration.

Wednesday 6th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - Wootton Village Hall 

Friday 8th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - WixamsVillage Hall 

Thursday 7th June - The Great Siege of Bedford Castle - Great Denham kickabout area

Re-enact the Great Siege of Bedford Castle using props and costumes - a story of greed, kidnap and medieval mayhem! Help us tell the tale of the wicked baron, the rats in the dungeon and the terror of the king's revenge!
Sessions 10am - 12pm       Cost £1      For ages 9 - 16   
Booking essential

Contact Laura Pottinger 01234 718627

For more information contact: The Higgins - 01234 718618  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The World Around Us

26th April – 31st May at the Tourist Information Centre, St Paul’s Square, Bedford

We have been working in partnership with Carers in Bedfordshire to create artworks inspired by the work of Edward Bawden. The work produced during their six-week course will be on display at Bedford Tourist Information Centre. If you are a Family Carer and would like to join please contact

Visit for more information