Discover an eclectic array of creativity at an Art Evening.
Diane Armstrong is one of Age UK Islington’s super volunteers. You’ll often find her assisting at Drovers as she’s a whizz with indoor bowls and on the new round table tennis. But recently she also started helping to host the monthly Art Evenings at Drovers which have diverse themes inspired by the various creative projects run by Andrea Sinclair. Diane, 71, who grew up in South Africa but spent her working life at Haringey Council followed by a stint as a mystery shopper has now helped at four Art Evenings.
The aim of the Art Evenings is to hold a more intimate early evening event, Diane likens it to a soirée, to showcase music, poetry and art. “Andy and Andrea, who work at Drovers, do the bookings. They try to make sure each event has an aging theme, and collaborate with established artists at the Park Theatre and other groups.” Diane’s task is to arrive early enough to set up the hall with cabaret style tables and chairs. If there are flowers at Drovers’ front garden she’ll make sure they are picked and displayed too. Sometimes she also brings her trolley so she can shop for nibbles at the Co-op over the road from Drovers.
“We make Drovers feel special. You know it’s going to be a lovely evening and you will listen to, or see, something different,” explains Diane who always dresses up for the Art Evenings. “I like poetry, that’s always nice to hear. Andy always takes a turn, I loved his poem about a cat, and people are excited to take part.”
For Diane the Art Evenings always offer something different – it’s not just a crowd of like-minded people, but also new things to enjoy, such as murals in Market Road or hearing Uri and his band. “There’s very good attendance and I enjoy it. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a Japanese animated film, but I did. It was also interesting seeing a well-known photographer’s work.”
But however much Diane is looking forward to the arts and acts, she’s also always the hostess, welcoming people to the event and introducing newcomers. Turns out that this is an easy task because, “Most people who come will be happy to listen to music on their own,” says Diane. “The audience is mostly Age UK, and we know they’re friendly folk, but sometimes the bands will be accompanied by family and friends, including children, which adds to the special atmosphere.” Definitely an event to try.
Art evenings are held on the last Thursday of the month at Drovers from 5.30-7pm.
Margaret is willing to battle the buses and Arthur brushes aside his watercolours to enjoy the Drovers’ Arts Evenings
Q. Are you an arty person?
Margaret: I’m not an expert on any one thing – I like artists such as Sickert, the Impressionists and Grayson Perry. The last exhibition I went to with Age UK was at the Estorick on Arte Povera (Poor Art) which was very interesting, and very different. In Islington you can be out 24 hours a day doing something with elderly groups.
Arthur: Reasonable. I’ve been painting for the past 20-25 years. I do watercolours now and have been going to art classes at St Luke’s in Central Street regularly for 18 years. It’s good when we go with Age UK to the National Gallery because we study a picture and know its history. That gives us a better intake on the artist and the painting.
Q. What made you go along?
Margaret: Andy and Andrea from Drovers recommended it. I’d go more often, this was my second visit, but I need two buses to get to Drovers. It’s a good place to go if you don’t have a lot of friends, neighbours or family around. The event was around tea time and there were snacks, fruit juices, little cakes. I didn’t know anyone, so I went and sat with a lady sitting on her own and then five more came to sit at our table. Everyone was very friendly.
Arthur: I’ve been to most of the art evenings. I think the mixture of art forms – from poetry to a singsong to talks from photographers and filmmakers – is good. As long as the theme is relevant, then it’s ok to have any art form. You might have a life story – what it is to be young, middle aged and get old – because that resonates with the aging population. It’s a social thing that brings out the best in people, and very informative in terms of who is presenting it, and who is on stage. The nibbles are good too.
Q. What did you enjoy the most?
Margaret: Diane introduced herself and made me welcome! It was very good. There was music, singing, poetry and time to chat. Daisy Solomon, who runs a poetry group at Freightliners, read poems. Andy also writes poetry and he’d written something that day about a cat. It was important to be able to sit and chat to somebody.
Standout moment: There was a group performing with mandolin, guitar and singing. The mandolin is such a beautiful instrument, but the lady said it was the first time she’d played in public and was very nervous.
Arthur: It’s good to reflect on the changes of age because that gives us a reflection of what is to come. It’s philosophical really. The younger generation doesn’t realise the changes we’ve had. One of the women read a poem about youth and growing up – when you’re into that department you can take a greater look at life in itself.
Standout moment: A singing group who say they are going to name themselves Drovers. I never realised they had such good voices. Art evenings are a chance to perform, as well as to listen.