Unfortunately at present Mid Border Arts is still unable to promote our usual programme of events and workshops. However, in 2020 Mid Border Arts took the opportunity to redecorate a lot of the building, created Queue the Music, hosted an exhibition, and was the backdrop to a couple of Pete Mustill’s music videos.
As soon as we can, Mid Border Arts is keen to show off and share the exciting new look of the Presteigne Assembly Rooms, illustrated here by Alex Ramsay’s photographs. Thanks to a generous legacy to MBA, the downstairs room now has an oak floor, wooden tables and chairs and attractive lighting.
Simultaneously Powys County Council has painted the windows – inside and out – replaced tiles, fixed gutters and installed new lights in the corridors.
New also, are the framed posters of past events now covering the staircases and corridors of the building: vintage Sheep Music Festival and Presteigne Fireworks posters; posters for Mid Border Arts events at the Assembly Rooms; and thanks to Richard Pitts, the complete collection of Presteigne Players’ Panto posters.
In March, our early response to the virus was to put charming examples of Julia Donalds and Axel Scheffler’ work on the Assembly Rooms’ railings. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have become some of the bestselling and most beloved authors in Britain, with a vast army of devoted young fans. It was Scheffler, who illustrates the words written by Donaldson, who had the idea to update the characters in the hope of using his characters’ popularity for good.
“I am not a nurse, I am not a doctor, and the situation is awful. And I thought, what can I do? As an illustrator, this is what I can do.”
QUEUE THE MUSIC
Inspired by the singing from the balconies in Italy, Mid Border Arts created Queue the Music. During the first lockdown, on Saturday mornings, as shoppers waited outside the chemist and supermarket in High Street or as they queued to buy bread in Broad Street, they heard the much missed sound of live music and song, drifting down from the open windows of Presteigne Assembly Rooms.
Many thanks to the talented local musicians who have performed and to Alex @Alex Ramsay photography.
CATHERINE POELSMA EXHIBITION
In December, Mid Border Arts was delighted to welcome everyone to our first event in a long time: a sale and retrospective exhibition of work by local Dutch artist Catherine Poelsma, known as Titi.
There were large pastels of the landscape around Albuquerque; still lifes; Radnorshire landscapes; and a display of really early etchings and photographs.
This was a rare opportunity to see Catherine’s work; her last exhibition was sometime in the early 1990s. Titi is now 81; and has been an artist all her life. It was very gratifying that lots of visitors came to look – and buy – the work, before the exhibition had to close for the second lockdown.
VIDEOS SHOOTS IN ASSEMBLY ROOMS
The Assembly Rooms also paid host to a couple of music video shoots in the last year. The first is a song spoofing the recent spate of high profile, pop music, copyright cases and featuring the creme de la creme of Presteigne thespian talent.
The second a late night tribute to Fred Astaire including a stunningly incompetent dance sequence.
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