My name is Pat Gibb and I am a volunteer for Vision Support in Chester Head Office. I took early retirement from NatWest Bank a couple of years ago and wanted to do some work for a local charity that really makes a difference to people’s lives and came across Vision Support by chance!
I was initially unsure what sort of work I wanted to be involved with but have found helping with PR and administration work to be very rewarding and interesting and without fundraising and maintaining a high local profile Vision Support would not be able to carry out its good work so this is a necessary part of the organisation.
I have now been volunteering for nearly two years, and one of the projects I was involved in last year was helping to organise the annual event day at the Greenfields Heritage Park in Flint, which took several months and was enjoyed by many service users and their families.
If you have some time to spare why don’t you get in touch and see what you can offer Vision Support and what they can offer you.
Linda Bromilow’s Story
I first encountered Vision Support after my consultant at St Paul’s Eye unit in the Royal Liverpool Teaching Hospital informed me that my vision would deteriorate with no treatment at present.
It was devastating news and he suggested I should be registered as severely visually impaired. But, fortunately for me I was contacted shortly afterwards by Vision Support and offered help with completing the many claim forms in order to receive DLA and most of all having support from a professional caring organisation.
I was encouraged to join an IT course with VS and was offered training on computers with assistive software which supported me with speech and magnification. With training and guidance I was able to work through and pass all the CLAIT exams. My confidence slowly grew until I felt able to offer myself as a volunteer to work in the Halton Resource Centre. This was a great turning point in my confidence. I met an was able to help others who where in my situation before I was taken care of by Vision Support and I was in a position to support and encourage others. I began to feel a valued member of society once again.
It was a marvellous day when I was accepted as an IT trainer helping those like myself to achieve a level of independence and social inclusion. To inspire others with the enthusiasm to learn how to do the activities they hear others doing on a PC i.e. email, shopping, researching and learning new skills with the help of assistive software. This is such a rewarding role and I am very fortunate indeed to have been given this opportunity.
The story does not stop their because of being part of providing Adult Education it is now become essential for trainers to have professional qualifications. To continue teaching in this role it was necessary to participate in Further Education (FE) courses. Firstly Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) and next Certificate to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS). These courses covered an academic year to complete and I was helped by my Manager with funding and study leave days. Having successfully completing the said courses I was encouraged to go onto the second phase and proceed to, hopefully, achieve the graduate qualification Professional Grade Certificate in Education (PGCE). Once again Vision Support has continued to assist and underpin my aspirations in which I am most grateful.
To summarise my good fortune I have gained employment in an organisation that is focused on supporting and training their staff. I enjoy my position as a trainer immensely and it is extremely rewarding and I am guided and encourage by colleagues and mentor to pursue and achieve my full potential.
Our Patron Beverley Bell-Hughes
About me by Bev Bell-Hughes
I have been for many years been involved in art, especially ceramics and as a person who is visually impaired, I am very keen to pass my knowledge on to other people who might like to have a go at studio ceramics .Hopefully learn that all is possible, your hands being your tool to create .
I was very honoured to be asked to be the patron of vision support and hope that many art projects will come along to help and inspire all those members of vision support who would like a go at art activities.
I am also co -chair of an national group called Disability Arts Cymru which is based in Cardiff, which helps people from all areas of disability interested in the arts and how to move forward and focus their skills .
If any member of Vision Support who would like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting Started by Bev Bell-Hughes
Well here I am forty years on, husband, four children, one budgie and one manic six month old border collie who throws pots in the air for fun and breaks them!
I am still doing what I love best, getting dirty with clay, and making creations in clay.
For me, clay making is for my well being first, and second for people to enjoy.
I have always done other jobs to support my habit .Teaching in schools, artists in residence, usually in primary education. I love to see the faces of the little ones, when they are allowed to get dirty, and the clay changes colour and goes hard, it is like magic.
I have done cleaning jobs before and after school, when our children were small, also adult evening classes, youth clubs and special needs.
Up to this year, for the last twenty years I have been a story teller of ghost stories in the medieval walled town of historic Conwy, which is full of ghosts. I used to love scaring the tourists!
The theatrical side of me coming out, my dad was a stand up comedian and compare (evening and weekend job).
When I was at secondary school the only subject that I enjoyed was art and craft.
I failed most subjects at school because of not being able to see the blackboard, and gave up asking for help.
The only thing I wanted to do from the age of twelve was to go to art school to be an artist.
This I achieved, although my dad was reluctant about it, as an officer in the MET police (day job).
I did a two year foundation course at Sutton and Cheam School of art 1965 -1967.
I was so glad that it was a two year course and not one only, as it gave you more time to make a decision as to what art form you were going to study as a degree.
This art school was small and brick built, corridors and lots of stairs. There was a art school secretary called miss Whitney who rang a large school bell every morning.
She ruled the roost with a fist of iron and lots of love for those teenage rebels of the sixties, against the status quo.
Bare feet, paint spattered jeans, smoking French cigs to be cool, Gitane and Discbleu drinks in the park ,and swimming in the lunch break in the pool next door, an old pool surrounded by wooden huts.
Both the swimming pool and the art school have long since gone, and many students either went to Epsom to study or the new Sutton College of liberal arts (S.C.O.L.A.)
The foundation course at Sutton did not do ceramics. .I found out by chance, being nosey, a room with adults in making pots.
This was only available to part time students, not us on the foundation course.
I wanted to do this, I managed to persuade the head of the art school, Mr Bulley to let me swop from doing Calligraphy, which is definitely not me,to doing ceramics .
And so the passion got me CLAY!
I was taught by Brian Starkey and also Walter Keeler. Both taught at Sutton art school then.
An ex member of the C.P.A. also taught me print making at this time Mrs Joan Hepworth.
Walter Keeler suggested that i should try Farnham and Harrow as places to go and study ceramics .
I got offered a place at both, and decided to choose Harrow,as it was more hands on and vocational .It was only a two years as well.
This course was run by Michael Casson and Victor Margri. The emphasis was on being able to set up your own studio pottery.
There were many visiting potters as well as the regular teachers then at Harrow.
Mo Jupp, Colin Pearson, Helen Pincombe, John Solly and John Chalke just to name a few.
At this time i made honey glazed slipware with finger wipe decoration, also a small amount of hand built pots, relating to natural forms.
My final paper /thesis, was written on the relationship between natural forms and clay.
While at Harrow i met and married a fellow student Terry
Bell-Hughes .Terry left in 1968 and i left the following year.
Harrow art school also got pulled down, and students moved to Northwick Park, and it became part of Westminster University, now also gone .Very sad.
As a child I was brought up in Ashtead and Oxshott, Surrey.
I knew Rosemary and Denise Wren well and showed art work with them at the local art group.
They offered me a studio in their garden when I left Harrow, and they ended up getting me and Terry.
There was no Craft Centre then and no grants available.
My dad paid for our first kiln £100,Kilns and Furnaces, which is still going, but a bit rusty now.
In 1969 I won 3rd prize in a competition run by the C.P.A. which was sculptural ceramics, a tree construction using flattened coils, a making process i still use today.
I got into the C.P.A. In 1971 and also The British Craft Centre, Earlham Street, Covent Garden
At this time I sold work in many small galleries, sometimes selling nothing in an exhibition.
Alicat, Richmond, Briglin pottery London, many now closed. Terry and I also tried to sell on the Bayswater road with many other artists on a Sunday. There were lots of interesting characters and good fun.
We transported the pots by bus and train then, we had no car.
Terry and I shared the garden studio till 1978, when we moved to North Wales, Terry’s homeland.
Rosemary and Peter ,and Denise were moving elsewhere , so we were losing our studio.
For me moving to Wales was a chance to change ,from a potter who had made mainly thrown pots ,to making only hand built pots, relating to the environment where I live.
The estuary of the river Conwy, the mountains of Snowdonia and the open sea of Llandudno.
My work relates mainly to the sea and the tidal system, Marks and patterns left in the sand by the receding tide.
Barnacles, rocks, shells, driftwood, bones and seaweed and more, and ever changing process of erosion and growth. The work has changed since 1990 from being pot related to being more sculptural and thinner, and more delicate in feel.
I work instinctively into the clay, no preconceived ideas, no drawings to work from.
I work in total silence, no music, in natural light. I choose not to have any electric lights.
I lose myself completely in the making process, the making of work and the pinching of clay.
It is like a meditative experience, mind body and spirit in concentration. If that concentration is broken by somebody shouting or banging on the door, it takes a while to get back to the right state of mind again.
My work is made using flattened coils of clay, into which other clay and sands are added to give surface texture.
The tactile quality of clay and the pinching of it to make it is what I enjoy the most. I want people to desire to touch and hold the work, and get across the quality of clay being a tactile material.
I work using my hands and the sense of touch first and my eyes second.
The work is bisque fired to 980 degrees and glazed, reduced fired in a small gas kiln 1300 degrees centigrade.
I put washes of under glaze colours and various oxides on in the bisque state, onto which a barium glaze is added.
All the work has to be supported to stop it collapsing and Terry helps me with the kiln firings, and wishes I made easy to pack pots, instead of the ones I make. Which are a juggling act and stretches the mind to despair.
As a potter who worked in Conwy Festival every year, I was asked if the potters who I knew in North Wales Potters would like to put their work in an empty shop front in Conwy, and so after running for a year, paying a small rent.
I initiated and helped to set up a small co-operative gallery in Conwy for members of North Wales Potters in 2003, which is still going with eighteen members.
The Potters’ Gallery
1 High Street, Conwy LL32 8DB
My work can be seen in…
Craft in the bay Cardiff
St David’s Hall
And also at….
Ruthin Craft Centre,
And at the C.P.A.
My Biography by Bev Bell-Hughes
Born in 1948.
Attended Sutton & Cheam art school foundation course 1965-67.
After which i went to Harrow school of art to study for a diploma in studio ceramics, under Michael Casson and Victor Margrie 1967-69.
During this time I met and married fellow student Terry Bell-Hughes from North Wales.(1968)
I visited Wales on a regular basis for ten years.
In 1978 we were able to move to Llandudno Junction, between Conwy and Llandudno.
I did various jobs working in the youth service, social services, artists in residence in schools and cleaning jobs. I also taught evening classes.
My work relates very much to where I live, the estuary of the river Conwy and the surrounding beaches.
I am a member of the Makers Guild in Wales
Fellow of Craft Potters Ass Chair of North Wales Potters Ass, and co-chair of Disability Arts Cymru.
Patron of ‘Vision Support ‘charity for people who are visually impaired.
My work is in various collections at home and abroad.