Category: Blog

Notice of Annual General Meeting 2023

The Annual General Meeting for Pool Arts will take place on Monday 17th April at 5.00pm at Pool Arts Studio, 18-20 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7JJ. All members and interested parties are welcome to attend.

The agenda can be viewed here

The last financial statements can be viewed here

The draft annual report can be viewed here

For information, or to attend the meeting remotely, please email

The Safety of the Studio and the ways we communicate


During the last six months, we’ve really adapted the ways we connect with each other. With our group studio closed and the chances to meet up limited, we’ve used phone calls and texts, emails, and Facebook. We’ve sent and received work by post and we’ve had some interesting Zoom sessions (as well as some frustrating ones). 

pool arts studio

It’s fantastic that we have all of this technology at the tips of our fingers, but I think for a lot of us, it’s not as straightforward as it initially seemed at the start of the Pandemic. The detachment that being behind a screen creates seems to be heightened when we think about the ways we usually connect. A talk about art and life, in the context of the studio, becomes a mutual discussion and an exchange of words as well as the unspoken ways we communicate. In conversation, we play off each other, subconsciously using body language and subtle signs to gauge how the other party might be feeling or where the next step of the conversation should go. 

Spontaneous discussions happen, someone asks for feedback, this sparks another conversation and the sharing of influences. Often real-life creeps in, and stories emerge and truths are shared. The exchanges are fluid and empathetic and the studio becomes a safe place where you can share your experience, and feel understood. 

We don’t have this right now. Conversations happen but in a slower and more reserved way. In this context, the screen feels like a barrier, a screen which may be shielding us from danger, but one that also shields us from human emotion, chance encounters, and everything that goes along with us being together. 

And in the same way, it’s shielding us from developing artwork together, in the interconnected way we usually work, a very human form of expression which doesn’t seem to translate across the lines of digital communication somehow. 

So, we’ll carry on using these new ways to communicate and try to find ways to bring in the humanity that we’re all missing. And we’ll just hope that in the not too distant future we can return to the fluidity, expression, and safety that the studio brings.

Manchester Poplars

We’ve been doing a series of Socially distanced walks – here’s a beautiful response from Roger and Anastasia (thanks to Rae at the Mapping Manchester’s Quiet Spaces blog for putting it together)

Roger and Anastasia sent the following, on their discovery of the beautiful Black Poplar.

Image by Anastasia


Artwork from our trip to Alex Park, 24th September,  which I enjoyed immensely! A combination here of photo’s taken on my phone,  bark rubbing, (the paper was too thick, and I think pastels or charcoal would have been more effective), contour drawing (it’s so hard not to peek at the paper!!), and sketching using Caran D’Ache watercolor crayons:

Roger Howard:

I came across this blog when in Alex Park with Anastasia and Akinyemi. Anastasia and I saw this magnificent tree with deeply fissured bark and I did a quick identification on an app on my phone. From the bark alone, it came up as an oak, but when I looked at the leaves (spade-like ♠️, typical of poplars) I knew what it was. 

I remember reading about “Manchester Poplars”, which thrived at the height of the Industrial Revolution, as they were resistant to pollution and came across this:’s-very-own-tree Anastasia and I attempted bark rubbing, but as the bark was so rough, it was hard to get a good impression, so we played with colours and line. Anastasia has got some fantastic drawings of this tree, so it is great that she’s agreed to share them with us. Akinyemi came later and did some ink and watercolor paintings of trees too. 

This is one of my efforts, but Anastasia has got much more of the range of colours and textures, as you can see above:

Image by Roger Howard

We had a great afternoon in the park and I’d love to repeat it with Pool Arts members and others if we could arrange another date. I know the year is on the decline weather-wise, but we could find the odd day when it’s sunny or at least not raining. Also, the colours will be changing now, so it would be a good opportunity to catch some of those “autumnal hues“ before the leaves fall. 

We all agreed how important it is to our good mental and physical health to have trees around us and to get out and be amongst them. Other trips to other places would satisfy this yearning! Chorlton Meadows, Styal woods, Fletcher Moss, etc, etc. Tree hugging was also touched on (and attempted!) and I remember a trip with Rae to Formby once, where we had microphones to hear their inner processes. 

I also came across this poem, posted on FB by Sue Aunty of Whalley Range All Stars, 

Binsey Poplars

    felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,

   Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,

   All felled, felled, are all felled;

     Of a fresh and following folded rank

                Not spared, not one

                That dandled a sandalled

         Shadow that swam or sank

On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

   O if we but knew what we do

          When we delve or hew—

     Hack and rack the growing green!

           Since country is so tender

     To touch, her being só slender,

     That, like this sleek and seeing ball

     But a prick will make no eye at all,

     Where we, even where we mean

                To mend her we end her,

           When we hew or delve:

After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.

   Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve

      Strokes of havoc únselve

           The sweet especial scene,

      Rural scene, a rural scene,

      Sweet especial rural scene.


Credit: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Source URL:

Exploring the parks of Manchester

We’ve had some fantastic exchanges of work, thoughts and ideas over email, post and Zoom, but nothing beats meeting face to face.

So we decided to arrange a series of socially distanced park meetups, for the chance to meet and chat in person, as well as to do some research, creative responses, and idea generation for our current project,  Human: Nature

Here are some creative responses from the walks;

Walk 1 – Alexandra Park

We had a great afternoon in the park. We all agreed how important it is to our good mental and physical health to have trees around us and to get out and be amongst them. I’d love to repeat it with Pool Arts members and others if we could arrange another date. Roger

Images from Roger, Anastasia and Akinyemi

Find out more about Roger and Anastasia’s inspiration in this post about the Manchester Poplar Tree 

Walk 2 – Whitworth Park

Here are some images from the Whitworth park walk. We looked at some of the Sculpture works and focused on the details of nature around us. 

Images from I.Baron (Photography and digital works) and Alison Kershaw, featuring Annette and Maria

Here is Alison’s sketch of the Centre Circle

“which is a garden that’s enclosed in a circular fence – but seems a little overgrown.

I liked it and it reminded me of the old direct access hostel site near the studio

‘don’t fence me in’ the song that keeps going in my head.”






Walk 3 – Highfield Country Park

Lovely meet up with Dave, Pam, Simon and Nick. We strolled to Highfields, a “country park” created from a former landfill site that was previously a brickworks / dye works/ tripe factory and farm! Dave and Pam made some sketches and photo studies and we recorded the sound of leaves being released from the trees. We discussed how lockdown has affected some of us, how we feel about it going forward into the winter. Great to see everyone.

Here are some images from Nick, and Alison’s sketch from the pond at Highfields. “I made a hasty pencil drawing which I’ve added to with coloured pencils and watercolours once at home.”

“Thanks for yesterday. I got a lot out of it.” Nick

“Thank you all for a lovely walk -:so good to get some fresh air and chat with friends.” Pam

Thanks to everyone for joining us on the walks, some really lovely responses and discussions were had, we’re looking forward to planning some more in the near future (if the weather allows!)

Furiously Mad Timeline

Do you remember our Furiously Mad exhibition in 2014?

Here is a link to then timeline that we created for the exhibition

Click here to visit the timeline

Thanks to National Lottery Players

Paul Richards, Seasons of Life (detail)

Pool Arts would like to say a massive Thank You to National Lottery Players. We have received grant funding from Arts Council England’s Covid-19 Emergency Funding which ensures that we will be able return to our Art Studio after the lockdown is over, having maintained creative activity with all our artist members.

We are developing creative projects together online and via Mail Art. We are looking to the future positively and planning ahead, despite the unfortunate situation that means we cant yet meet face to face in our lovely studio as we would wish.

We send our condolences to anyone who has been adversely affected by the pandemic and particularly for anyone bereaved at this time. We send our thanks to Lottery Players, without whom the grant would not be possible, and to everyone who as key workers have cared for people in hospitals and for us all locked down in the community.


Manchester Open at HOME

We are delighted to announce that some of our artists were successful in applying to the Manchester Open

Studios Available – join our waiting list

We offer 5 self contained studio spaces to artists of all backgrounds who become Associates and pay a license fee for use of the space.

Cost starts at £160/month inc wi-fi and 24hr access

Please contact us for details and join our waiting list. We usually have one or two vacancies each year, but currently no studios available (December 2019)


You may also be interested in using our large studio for meetings  , one off workshops etc for a small fee. Contact us to discuss

Manchester Art Fair

we enjoyed our annual visit to the Manchester Art Fair. As last year we became cultural partners of the fair and very much enjoyed meeting artists and organisations taking part

Your Truth is not My Truth: Pool Arts respond to the Life and work of William Blake

Some of the work from our Blake exhibition October 2019



Preview Thursday 3rd October  5-9pm All Welcome

Exhibition Dates:

3rd – 12th October 2019 (Weds/Thurs/Fri/Sat) 2-6pm

Workshop: Make your own lino print date:

Thursday 10th October 4:30-6:30pm (please contact to book, places limited)

The Horsfall, 87 Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, M4 5AG


The poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827) lived his life in poverty and received very little recognition during his own lifetime. He was considered at best an eccentric and at worst a madman by the critics of the time. However, a few dedicated followers preserved much his prolific work and he is now considered one of the most important British artists of all time, influencing art, literature and music from the Pre-Raphaelites to Patti Smith. 

For this exhibition at Horsfall, Pool Arts researched the life, work and influence of William Blake and wondered what relevance he might have to our own experiences. Certainly we live in a time of political change and upheaval. Blake saw visions throughout his life that influenced his art but he was also an Enlightenment radical who contemplated the American and French revolutions; questioned religions and challenged dominant ideologies that he felt stifled imagination and the human spirit.

In this exhibition, our artists have looked at Blake’s biography, his art and poetry and from there created new work. What is Truth? Blake searched for a spiritual truth and found it rooted in imagination. Then as now, the fight between different Truths shaped the world. The exhibition features thoughtful responses from the Pool Arts artists, including; Alan S’s large scale painted installations, Paul Richards’ sensitive works of visionary mythologies and Roger Howard’s work exploring current political concerns. Becky Mary’s print “Quotation” perhaps sums up how difficult it has been to really understand the work of William Blake, deciphering a history through second and thirdhand research, viewing one of the Fathers of the modern age in art, from the perspective of a Post-Truth age.

Contributing Artists include: Another Adele, Akinyemi Oludele, Annette Ebanks

Becky Mary, Alison Kershaw, Alan S, Simon Mawdsley, I. Baron, Lee Hadfield, David Speers, Ruqia Artiste, Roger Howard, Eddie Price, Tess Lomas.