Artists with autism to exhibit pieces at Preston’s Harris Museum

A group of adult learners with autism and other learning difficulties who have been working with Lancashire Adult Learning on an artistic project will have their work exhibited at the Harris Museum in Preston next month.

LAL has been working with the TESC Ideas group from the Preston area for the last 18 months, helping to draw out the creativity within the learners and improve their artistic skills.

The group began focusing on printmaking and then moved on to mixed media before learner Emma Loughlin came up with the idea to exhibit their works.

Since then, the learners have been doing research into their autism, the brain, and other artists who use the brain and mind to influence their work in order to complete their own pieces ahead of the exhibition which launches in December.

Emma, 48, from Leyland, said: “I am going to be using a head to represent what I think about autism.

“You can’t see autism and we don’t look any different to people who don’t have autism. It doesn’t bother some people but for me I try to live a normal life and it is harder.

“I don’t need people to feel sorry for me. We are brilliant and we are people too. I just want people to understand better what life is like living with autism.”

Another learner, Anna Sharples, 28, from Longridge, is focusing on the difference of those with autism who have a lower functioning brain and those with a higher functioning brain.

She said: “I hope people will be more aware of autism after the exhibition.

“I’m really excited to be exhibiting my work, it’s a huge opportunity and my family can’t wait. It will be nice for them to see what we have been doing.

“Working with Lancashire Adult Learning has been really good as the help and support has been there without it being done for us.”

The Harris Museum’s Open Exhibition will run from 9th December until 21st January and a private viewing for family and friends of the TESC Ideas is being planned ahead of the exhibition’s opening up to the public.

Art teacher Helen Draper said: “It has been really inspiring to see how the group has developed over the last year and a half which has culminated in this fantastic opportunity to exhibit work at the Harris Museum’s Open Exhibition 2017.

“All of the learners have worked independently to develop an idea, concept or design that reflects them and their life with autism for the exhibition and they have put a great deal of thought into their pieces of work.”

Daphne Loughlin, from the TESC Ideas group said: “The group has been going for a long time and it is a social group for people with autism and their families and carers.

“The exhibition is a first for the group and I’m personally thrilled as I have always loved the Harris. I have been telling everyone I know about it!

“The group’s exhibits will show the different facets of autism and I hope people go away inspired.”

Lancashire Adult Learning delivers a huge range of planned provision across the Red Rose County, from Arts and Crafts to Humanities classes, Languages to Health and Wellbeing sessions and Employability courses.

LAL will hold a free Taster Day on Wednesday 10th January at Chorley Library from 10am until 3pm, where people looking for something different to try in the New Year or those wishing to improve their skills for employment can come along and meet some of the Lancashire Adult Learning team.

Those attending can also have a go at Health and Wellbeing activities and other free taster sessions, seek course advice and enrolment, take advantage of skills advice drop-ins for Maths, English and ICT and sample different languages and cultures.

For more information about LAL, contact 0333 003 1717 or visit www.lal.ac.uk.

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