It’s All About Women

With Mother’s Day last Sunday and International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March, this week it’s all about women.

International Women’s Day was originally established in 1911 to, as the Independent puts it: “mark women’s enormous contribution to humankind.” Giving birth to the entire human race might indeed be regarded as an enormous contribution, so they’re not wrong there. But why is a ‘women’s day’ necessary in the 21st Century?

In many places around the world – including the oh-so-enlightened West – women lag lamentably behind men in pay for performing the same job; a mere 55 of the world’s richest 500 people are female; and the closest encounter half the population ever have with a glass ceiling is to clean it. Meanwhile, in 2015, a woman spent five months in a Tehran jail for protesting against the ban on females watching sports in stadiums alongside men, women are routinely seen as the sexual property of men – whether or not they know them – and in too many places on the planet women have to cover themselves from head to toe just in case men can’t control themselves. This, and having to solicit the permission of a man even to avail themselves of a medical intervention on their own bodies, demonstrates just why a day of recognition – if not reckoning – is warranted. As for women’s status in Saudi Arabia, space prohibits us from even listing the injustices women endure there, so here’s a handy link.


And so, if it appears strange that 50% of the human species has to mark on the calendar a day to remind the other 50% of the human species that we are all actually homosapiens, sadly, there are very persuasive reasons for it.

This week there are an abundance of events taking place in countries across the globe to celebrate the social, cultural and economic achievements of women and highlight the pressing issues they continue to face. In the US the newly crowned Queen of Gender Equality, English actress Emma Watson (pictured below) will be one of the speakers at a rally to launch HeForShe Arts Week, a weeklong spotlight on women’s rights and gender equality. In India, SeekSherpa is hosting a series of events tied into International Women’s Day, including an all-girl pub crawl and a bus tour of hidden culinary hotspots in Delhi, whilst Taiwan’s  Girls in Tech evening on March 8 celebrated entrepreneurial women of the web.


In London the weeklong WOW (Women of the World) Festival is taking place at the Southbank Centre, and will feature over 150 events, including talks, debates, live music, comedy, dance lessons, workshops and  even a demonstration from the sword-wielding stars of Muslim Girls Fence.

In Evolution’s hometown of Brighton the Women’s Centre and Brighton Dome  put together a special, action-packed day of entertainment, films, workshops, exhibitions and discussions on March 8th, including an exhibition by artist and Evolution Arts tutor Bern O’Donooghue.  In Dead Reckoning, O’Donoghue presents a moving installation from her paper boat art project (see image below) bearing witness to the deaths in 2015 of an estimated 3,771 migrants and refugees who have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in their efforts to reach Europe.


Both Brighton Dome and Dukebox Theatre in Hove, are hosting a whole week of shows and workshops dedicated to celebrating womankind. Highlights include Sandi Toksvig’s live show, Politically Incorrect, local musician Hannah Brackenbury’s brilliant songs about pound shops, selfies, librarians, vodka and cats,  and a night of seriously sassy sketches about all things female from The Fannytasticals.

Evolution Arts offers courses and workshops where women (and men!) have the chance to express and celebrate themselves through a range of artistic mediums including dance, theatre, drawing, music and photography.


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What do, Joan of Arc, Wes Anderson, Clowns and Lepidoptery (the study of moths) have in common? The answer is they have all been themes of The Drawing Circus  life drawing events.

The Drawing Circus is a troupe of Brighton-based artists, models, art tutors, musicians and performers who seek to promote a sense of wonder at the visual world through innovative drawing events

drawing circus photo 2

Drawing Circus events aren’t your average structured life drawing classes. Far from it. These events, which are rarely tutored, straddle the boundary between workshop and performance and aim to leave all participants feeling inspired and informed. Most events are held in collaboration with innovative Brighton venues such as the Old Market and The Spiegeltent, with each event based around a different theme. Members of the collective make the costumes for the models to pose in and musical entertainment is provided by the Drawchestra, a collective of musically inclined life models who perform at Drawing Circus events. Drawchestra members add musical flourishes to poses and guest musicians are often invited to play alongside them.


Evolution’s Carole Gledhill has first hand experience of The Drawing Circus, both as model and artist. A former art student, Carole got into the Brighton life drawing scene four years ago when she started tutoring for a company that run life drawing hen parties. Carole says:

“I love life drawing, it’s like meditating, you have to be so focused and you leave feeling relaxed and challenged.”

Carole last modeled at a special Drawing Circus event at the Booth Museum in November last year, dressed as a lion (see drawing below by Geo Parkin, with other model Naomi Wood). Here, she posed alongside several other costumed models including a monkey-mermaid and a bat .



“The loveliest thing about the themed events is the amazing costumes you get to wear and the social aspect. Also, it’s a novelty to pose alongside other models. As an artist I enjoy going to events at the Old Market as they’re the only times I get to have a G&T whilst I draw – I think it actually helps my drawing!”


The Drawing Circus is the brainchild of Jake Spicer. Jake is head tutor of Draw who run drawing events all over the South East. In 2009 Jake started a tiny, 6 person life drawing class in the corner of his studio hoping to meet other people in Brighton who were keen on drawing. Both models and sketchers in the class had all of these wonderful ideas for unusual life draiwng sessions, so when he was asked to put on themed event for White Night 2009 he gathered a crew around and put on an amazing tarot themed life draiwng all-nighter which attracted 750 people who turned up to draw. Jake says:

“The classes expanded and we ran more and more events and eventually we split The Brighton Life Drawing Sessions into Draw and The Drawing Circus, with the Drawing Circus run more democratically by Emma, Francesca and myself with ideas for all our sessions coming from members of the troupe. It is a privilege to be working alongside such a passionate and creative crew of artists, models and musicians.”

Brighton Life Drawing Sessions form the core of Draw’s adult education program. Most sessions take place at New England House and include Mixed Pose, Short Poses Long Pose and Themed Pose sessions. The latest themed pose was David Bowie.

The Draiwng Circus is a non-profit making organisation. The sessions are open to all abilities and they especially encourage complete begginers to come give life drawing a go. The next Drawing Circus will be held at the Old Market Bar on 16 February and will be on the theme of Star Wars. All jedi, droids, ewoks, Tusken raiders, wookiees welcome.

If you are interested in other drawing practices,  Evolution Arts run a range of art courses and workshops for all levels.

May the drawing force be with you!

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Brighton Street Art – make your mark through art

Brighton and street art go together like Essex and spray tans. Here at Evolution Arts we heart street art not simply because it adds vibrancy and intrigue to the urban landscape, but because it champions the idea that anybody can make art, whilst making art accessible to all.

Street art and graffiti as we know it today first emerged in the 1970s in the guise of tagging – distinct signatures used by kids in the Bronx for marking territory. Since then it has become a popular international art form and artists such as Banksy have become household names, with kids today more likely to recognize a Bansky than a Bacon or a Botticelli.

Graffiti is a legitimate and treasured part of the Brighton experience and over the years a dazzling array of styles and talents has adorned our city’s walls. As well as showcasing its own famous painters such as Aroe, Gary and Roid, Brighton has attracted graffiti crews and artists from across the globe.

One artist who has contributed to Brighton’s technicolour concrete canvas is Andy Hutch. Brighton-based Hutch has been throwing up his art on walls around Brighton and London since around 2000. Hutch says:

“I was always into the sticker culture, which grew out of the skateboard scene, that’s how I started on the street around 2000. This progressed into larger pasted up posters and with the street art scene growing around that time a lot of likeminded people got together through the Internet sharing details and photos leading to group shows, live painting and a lot of illegal fun.”

Jewel Runner

Nowadays Hutch is more likely to be found working from his studio, producing prints for galleries and commissions for private clients as well as selling art through his website

“I don’t have any art remaining on walls in Brighton. Apart from most derelict areas being done up or knocked down there’s not many places left to do it. I’m happy enough producing work from my studio for now, but I’ll hit the streets now and then when the mood takes me.”

Hutch prefers figurative art due to the curves and contours being more fun to draw and hand cut. His medium of choice nowadays is rubylith acetate film, which, once an image is cut, can be underlayered with a print or other details on Perspex or paper giving depth.

Following a working-morning spent doodling to get his brain juices flowing, Hutch sketches from photos and memory, then scans all the bits into the computer before cutting and pasting them together.


“Art has sometimes driven me mad and sometimes saved the day. I rest easy when I have at least 3 projects going on at the same time, then, satisfied when completed, I suddenly think what next?! I can never sit idle for long as I’ll always turn to my notebook or sketchbook to jot down ideas. This keeps me motivated and if the ideas aren’t coming I’ll listen to music, read artist interviews watch movies. I’ll go back to my sketchbooks and find an idea in something I never thought about before. I always make a note in ink of every creative thought.”

Hutch image 3

Hutch has just this minute completed a print edition commissioned by Brighton gallery Art Republic called Internal Piece which is screen printed, hand painted gold with green spray paint finish.

Internal Piece


You can learn more about Brighton’s graffiti history by joining a Brighton Graffiti Tour.

If you’re not ready to make your mark on the streets, at Evolution Arts we offer a range of Art Courses where you can express yourself and practice drawing and painting in a fun and safe environment.

Feeling inspired? At Evolution Arts  we offer several courses and workshops focusing on arts and crafts, the body and mind, writing, acting, photography, dance and music. Find a new challenge, discover a new passion and become part of the Evolution community. Call the centre on 01273 204204 or click here for more information and to book.


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Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing – book launch

In celebration of and as a thank you to our creative Evolution community, Evolution Arts and Wendy Ann Greenhalgh will be hosting a book launch event for Wendy Ann’s new book, Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing – A Creative Path to Awareness on 18th September.

Through anecdote and practical mindful excercises, Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing explores how everyone can draw and how even doodling or simple mark making can create a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. As children we draw effortlessly and with abandon and it is only later as adults our mind tells us we cannot draw or our art simply isn’t good enough. The seed of doubt is sown and we slavishly succumb to it unable to shake it off.

Day to day things, however small and insignificant can often get in the way and create barriers to our art and here Wendy Ann discusses how mindfulness can help remove these barriers.  It can can help deal with our internal voice, the internal critic that tells us we aren’t good enough, we’re not doing it right or that’s not how it’s supposed to look and therefore bring back joyfulness to our drawing. We as mindful artists can rediscover the playful pleasure in drawing.

wendy ann
Author Wendy Ann Greenhalgh

The book has an easy and accessible approach, but can also work on a much deeper level of mindfulness practice if you want it to.  It has a broad appeal as no experience in either drawing or the practice of mindfulness is necessary to gain something from the book. It’s for those who haven’t drawn since they were at school, for those who don’t feel they’re any good at drawing, or for those who are experienced in art but are looking for a new approach. It contains enlightening chapters on still life, landscapes and cityscapes, life drawing and portraiture and themes of experiencing change, love, kindness and self compassion run throughout its course.

Wendy Ann refers to the practice of mindfulness and the art of drawing as a “gentle, self-compassionate approach to unblocking creativity” and a useful tool for removing the barriers to our drawing.  Through following these practices, Wendy Ann herself has changed as an artist. and feels that mindfulness has influenced her compositions and transformed her own relationship with drawing. She recently attended her first life drawing class in 17 years.  Having felt frustrated at previous classes, comparing her work to others and letting her inner critic take over, like most of us do, she felt completely different this time. She simply let go, was present in the moment and just drew. Her approach to drawing has changed, whereas she now approaches it as a process rather than an end product.

The book draws on her own experience as an Arts educator and artist and her 20 years of mindfulness practice.  She has worked professionally as a photographer, illustrator, performance artist, filmmaker, poet and author and has practicised mindfulness meditation since her teens. She has tutored at Evolution Arts for five years.

“Evolution has been a real home from home for me for the last five years. It’s the place I first started teaching my own vision for creativity and mindfulness, so it feels only right that the first celebration for my book, should be with the Evolution Community. It’s a thank-you to all the lovely people who’ve come on courses over the years, helping to make Evolution a hub for creativity and mindfulness in the city.”  Wendy Ann Greenhalgh.

The book launch will take place at Evolution Arts, 2 Sillwood Terrace, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex BN1 2LR on 18th September at 7.30pm. This is a free event but due to limited numbers you will require a ticket to enter.  Tickets can be acquired by clicking here.  The event will preview the book where you will have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy ahead of it’s major release in October.  The evening will include a 40 minute mindfulness drawing class with Wendy Ann followed by a Q&A session with the author herself.

You can find out more about Wendy Ann Greenhalgh by visiting her Facebook Page or Website.  Wendy Ann Greenhalgh has some mindfulness and creative courses / workshops starting this September at Evolution Arts. Participants will have the opportunity to book onto these courses at a concessionary rate on the night.

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