LtL Artists Notebooks

Take a look inside the Artists’ Digital Notebooks and Lift the Lid on Island Culture

Whilst many people are still in lockdown and children off school, now is the perfect time to ‘take a look inside’ the fabulous Lift the Lid Digital Notebooks

From the comfort of your home you can explore not only pieces created by the artists around the four corners of the Isle of Wight, but also an explosion of creativity from Islanders in response to the commissioned artists.

The Artists’ Digital Notebooks are the lasting legacy of the successful Lift the Lid on Island Culture project. They showcase artworks, films, storytelling, poetry and more, including pieces that can’t be seen elsewhere.

The project worked closely with the commissioned artists* to create their individual Digital Notebooks. Each was styled by the artists, who also curated what was in them, telling the story of their own projects and sharing the fantastic outcomes.

Take a look inside 

Many Islanders who took part in the project through schools, community groups or organisations will get the chance to see if they can spot themselves in any of the photos or films.

If you head over to the Lift the Lid Digital Notebooks you can listen to children from primary schools tell the stories they created – with the help of Isle of Wight storyteller, Sue Bailey – in response to Phlegm’s glorious Ventnor Giant

The much-loved three-storey mural can be seen at the entrance to Ventnor’s town centre and has sparked the imagination of all ages. You can also discover the photos of paintings and clay sculptures created by young Islanders inspired by Phelgm’s work.

Dmitri Galitzine’s documentary work explored the relationship between the people of East Cowes and the ferry company. Titled Back and Forth, Dmitri’s documentary triggered some incredible responses from young Islanders when they worked with Isle of Wight Artists Ian Whitmore and Chris Jenkins exploring heritage, culture and the theme of ‘The Future’. As well as Dmitiri’s full length film, you can watch never-seen before outtakes and flick through his great observational photos from his time spent in East Cowes.

Light and Dark is the title of Julie Myers’ project. With a sharp focus on collaboration with local communities, Julie delved into the West Wight community, working with eight different groups and organisations, as well as with primary school children and local artists. Check out the fun that was had making enlargergrams, light paintings and photograms, and listen to original music created by the young people. Julie ended her project with a film charting her artistic process and the public event.

BearFace Theatre CIC were the fourth commission and worked in Newport with a school, a women’s centre and the Hospice. Using playful theatrical tasks, puppetry, art, poetry and music, We That Breathe found common threads of interest from which inspiring stories were created. Read the poem that was created by the vibrant group at Mountbatten and flick through photos of the workshops and performances.

What is Lift the Lid on Island Culture?

With the ambition to reignite a sense of pride and passion in our cultural heritage, this two-year Arts Council-funded project focused on four new public art commissions on the Island.

The project was led by the Isle of Wight Cultural Education Partnership and involved schools, artists, community groups, arts and heritage organisations, with local community workshops and school sessions.

Positive impact on Island communities

Jacqui Cusack, Arts Manager at Quay Arts, lead partner of the Cultural Education Partnership who commissioned the art said

“Lift the Lid on Island Culture has been about exploring the cultural heritage of the Island through art commissions in unexpected places and we’re so pleased with the result.”

Project manager, Sarah Girling, said,

“It’s been great to be involved with (delivering) this project, to see such creativity from Islanders, but also the positive impact that the artists have had in the communities that they have worked with around the Isle of Wight.”

The Lift the Lid Digital Notebooks were available to view at Quay Arts as part of the Great Leap Forward Exhibition, which due to the Coronavirus lockdown had to close its doors in March. The Quay has taken a huge drop in income, but you can show your support by making a donation via their Website

Lift the Lid Digital Notebooks can be found online at https://liftthelidnotebooks.com/

* All artists except Phlegm were involved with the design of their notebooks

With thanks to ‘On the Wight’ for their website development skills.

Lift the Lid Picnic – 26 July 2019

During the wonderful Ventnor Fringe celebrations in July 2019, Lift the Lid was invited by Ventnor Exchange to host a picnic with a difference. Members of the public were welcomed to Ventnor Park, to bring a picnic and to explore boxes brought along by members of the Isle of Wight CEP and beyond.

There were some intriguing objects sparking laughter, conversation and creativity. Here’s a selection of photographs from the event by Lift the Lid photographer Alice Armfield.

We were joined on the day by:

  • English Heritage
  • The Isle of Wight Steam Railway
  • New Carnival Company
  • Quay Arts
  • Philip Bell from Beachy Books
  • Quay Crafts
  • Artecology
  • Isle of Wight Council’s Heritage Services representing Newport Roman Villa and Carisbrooke Castle Museum
  • The Shipwreck Museum
  • Lift the Lid (and Quay Arts) Artist, Hannah George

Thank you to all who came and made the event a wonderful success.

Out of the box!

Island Culture during Covid-19

You might feel stuck inside a box, locked down, quarantined… But culture has been liberated! No longer stuck inside the museum or gallery building… Culture is out of the box!

There are so many names/phrases that we’d never have expected to use or perhaps even heard of: furlough, lockdown, Covid-19, social distancing, pandemic… I love language so I guess it interests me. If it interests you here’s an article from Oxford University Press on The Language of Coronavirus.

“What’s that got to do with education, the arts, Lift the Lid, and the Isle of Wight Cultural Education Partnership?” I hear you ask.

We care about the arts (obviously) and we at the IWCEP know that your wellbeing can be nurtured during this time through great arts and cultural activity. Have you seen some of the wonderful access to theatre, musicals, art and museums that’s coming out of this terrible situation? The BBC and Arts Council England have launched ‘Culture in Quarantine‘ which brings up a whole range of activities and experiences online – a wonderful opportunity to take part or kick back in the comfort of your own home.

Did you also realise that your local cultural organisations have so much on offer too? I thought that I’d list here as much information as I can about Island organisations who are offering something online. Many of these are for families with children, but don’t let that stop you, anyone can join in!

  1. Quay Arts

Based in Newport, this Arts Centre is a charity that needs your support during lockdown. They rely on visitors to both the cafe and the two galleries upstairs, let alone the theatre shows, music and other events that the Quay offers.

Quay at Home is their initiative, a blog of creative ideas such as:

  • Home Art – Easy step by step guides to creating art including origami, collages, etc
  • Exhibitions in your home – there has been a tour of the recent exhibition which just happens to have been the finale exhibition from the Lift the Lid project, The Great Leap Forward
  • Throwback Thursday – looking back at past exhibitions and events

2. New Carnival Company

The wonderful team of Carnival crazy experts at NCC in Ryde have adapted their work so that they can present to you online! In order to prepare for a future post-lockdown carnival, NCC are inviting you all to watch and learn all about carnival, and to join in to create your own flags, costumes, mask, dances and junk percussion instruments!

Watch their videos and join in using their new dedicated website, Virtual Carnival Club.

3. Independent Arts

The great team at Independent Arts have worked hard to ensure that their online sessions are free to access and open to all at the moment. They have everything from poems to art and craft all on their You Tube channel and Facebook page. They also have story telling on their Instagram page. They have slightly changed our offer to try and reach anyone who is isolated from home schooling families to older people in care homes and everyone, everywhere in between.

Check out their website for more information.

4. Isle of Wight Heritage Services

Discover more about the sites and diverse collections of the Isle of Wight Heritage Service through a new series of fun-filled, craft-based activity packs. Families are being invited to earn their stripes as a history detective by completing the crafty tasks at home.

New activities introducing further research and projects for all ages will be uploaded to the Isle of Wight Council’s website each week.

The first pack is available now and explores some of the amazing dragon artefacts held by the heritage service. These include a 500-year-old gold ring which depicts the brave St Margaret who killed a dragon with her cross, and a dragon-shaped medieval ear scoop. People would clean their ears using the scoop on the end of the monster’s tongue.

For more information about the heritage service, contact museums@iow.gov.uk

5. English Heritage – Carisbrooke Castle

The local English Heritage Education Visits Officer set up some great activities for school children including a competition to design a shield for Jill the Donkey, who lives at Carisbrooke Castle.

6. Dinosaur Isle

‘Meet Arfur, Arfur Tortoise!’ No really.

I have half of a modern tortoise shell at Dinosaur Isle that I call ‘Arfur’ (Arther), because he’s only ‘arfer totoise and we don’t know where the other ‘arf is!

said Trevor Price, the Museum’s Community Learning Officer.

Dinosaur Isle have set you a challenge to use natural objects to make pictures! A short ‘Bite-sized science’ article PDF is on the front page of Dinosaur Isle’s website for download. Hopefully the last picture in the article makes everyone smile, and will encourage others to follow with a range of smiley pictures created from natural history or heritage objects.

See Dinosaur Isle’s front webpage for the link – click on the pdf logo to download it.


That’s all for now folks, but we’re hoping to bring you something exciting from Ventnor Exchange very soon!

Lift the Lid takes a Leap…

On Saturday 29 February 2020, Quay Arts hosted a fun day of FREE workshops and performances. We were very grateful for all participants, workshop leaders, volunteers and artists/performers:

  • Lift the Lid artist, Ian Whitmore
  • Lift the Lid artist and storyteller, Sue Bailey
  • Independent Arts
  • The New Carnival Company: workshop leader Sharon Poole
  • Volunteer, Sheila Lucas
  • Isle of Wight College students: Daisy, Izzie and Daisy

Photographs by Alice Armfield


Film by Sassy Productions IoW which gives a feel for the day:

Sassy Productions also made a short film capturing the thoughts of young people about culture and creativity on the Isle of Wight. View that film on this blog post, #LetsCreateIW.

Mike Howley Trust 2020/21

Funding Opportunity for Young Island Creatives

The 2020 Mike Howley Trust awards are now open for applications. 

Mike Howley, who worked for many years as Director of Cultural Services for the Isle of Wight Council, died in May 2013 , leaving part of his estate for the specific benefit of aspiring young actors, musicians, dancers and writers, between the ages of 18 and 30, living on the Isle of Wight”.

Trustees welcome applications from people within the stated age range and art forms for investment in areas such as training, equipment, marketing & promotion, recording, rehearsal space, staging, publishing costs, or simply time to create.  If you fit the bill and have an idea you are burning to put into action, we would like to hear from you.

This year’s application process will be different from previous years; instead of a written application Quay Arts is hosting the Mike Howley Conversations. You are invited to come in for a 15 minute conversation with the selection panel, to discuss what it is you would like to do, who will benefit from it, and how much you need to make it happen. If the panel wants to take your application further, you will be asked for more details.

Once again this year, priority will be given to applicants whose projects celebrate, explore or interpret our unique Island cultural heritage.

The conversations will take place on Wednesday 18th March, between 11am and 5pm at Quay Arts and the deadline for applications is midday on Tue 31st March.

Please email m.stisted@quayarts.org for more information about the guidelines and find out how to book your conversation.

Comments from recipients of the 2019/20 Mike Howley awards:

“Your funding helped me to produce an entertaining show, and made it possible for me to bring new contemporary circus to the Isle of Wight. Something I will always be thankful for.”  Thorne Bailey

“I cannot stress enough just how valuable having this time to work on my book has been. Without the money the Mike Howley Trust awarded me, I would simply not be in the position I am now with my work.”    Harriet Bradley