Discover the cultural hub in the heart of Haddenham, nurturing a love for all things artistic in the local community
Words Alex Fice
Described by locals as an oasis – a place where they can retreat from the to-and-fro of daily life – Haddenham Arts Centre is a community hub aiming to enrich people’s lives through the arts. It’s home to several studios and workshop spaces, alongside a bustling cafe serving homemade bakes, freshly ground coffee and locally brewed beer. Surrounding the main building is a verdant sculpture garden which buzzes with wildlife, while the tranquil gallery space gives visitors an opportunity to explore exhibitions such as the recent Audacious!, featuring album art from the 70s by Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson.
The centre is a creative haven designed to promote wellbeing and a love of art – something that’s provided much comfort during the pandemic, according to manager Caroline Cawley. “More than ever, over the last two years, the arts have provided a way for people to deal with difficult times, switch off and surround themselves with creativity,” she explains. “Our centre makes this more accessible in the community. It provides a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can find solace – through taking part in a workshop, buying a piece of handmade art, or meeting friends in our beautiful garden for some cake.”
There are plenty of activities for people to get stuck into, with courses on glassmaking, drawing, basket weaving, clay sculpting, mosaic making and more. All classes are run by volunteers and artists-in-residence throughout the year, establishing a unique, personal relationship between creators and locals. “We have seven different on-site studios, occupied by talented local artists,” explains Caroline. “They are with us during opening hours and always encourage people to pop by and watch their process, while chatting about future workshops or commissions.”
Over the coming months, the centre’s team looks forward to providing extra support and expanding their offering of free or affordable workshops, thanks to a £25,000 government recovery grant received at the end of last year. “Our main objective is to have funding that helps support makers in the area, while keeping the art extremely accessible,” says Caroline. Haddenham locals can look forward to a full schedule, including Sketch Book Wednesdays in the Garden Studio, creating colourful, fused-glass dishes, life drawing in Tudor costume with Ann Biggs, and a willow workshop teaching you how to make a basket or bird feeder. There will also be events for families during half term, including a class for making tiny houses out of clay!
Later, in March, the gallery will be hosting a beautiful exhibition of limited-edition lithograph posters from Goldmark Gallery, featuring works by Chagall, Picasso and Hockney, among others. There are monthly cafes funded by the charity Mind too, and the centre regularly collaborates with other organisations and local groups such as Creative Arts East.
Keep up to date with Haddenham Arts Centre’s busy schedule by signing up to the newsletter over on its website. There are also opportunities to volunteer – simply get in touch or pay a visit to the centre in person, and you will be warmly welcomed.