Banbury’s art classes go global in response to lockdown

Artist and tutor Barry WhitehouseArtist and tutor Barry Whitehouse
Artist and tutor Barry Whitehouse | jpimediaresell

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Banbury art supplies shop, The Artery, has found itself with a worldwide audience since the lockdown began.

In fact its online lessons are attracting hundreds to each session. Last weekend's free class enjoyed more than 250 viewers joining a lesson on painting a bluebell wood in watercolour.

After its art classroom and subsequently its Church Lane shop closed as a result of the government directive, owner and art tutor Barry Whitehouse set out to change his business model slightly - and the results have been travelled further than he could ever have imagined.

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“Many of our student base are considered ‘at risk’ or vulnerable from the virus and as such it meant them missing their art lessons, which many find a great source of relaxation and mindfulness. So I wanted a way to bring our art classes to them so they could join in from home,” said Mr Whitehouse.

Utilising social media, Mr Whitehouse has created a separate closed group for each of his ten regular art classes and streams his art lessons live from his own dining room table.

Mr Whitehouse has also been hosting a free online paint-along lesson on selected Saturday mornings.

“I thought we would just get our usual students and customers joining in but I was so thrilled to see we have had people from all over the UK including Yorkshire, Teeside, and Devon. Not only that there have been participants from parts of Ireland, America, Canada, Australia and South Africa," he said.

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"It is so wonderful to see that people are turning to creativity to help them get through this difficult period the world is currently facing. It’s helping bring people closer together from all over the world and shows how important creativity is to help calm in times of stress and uncertainty.”

Mr Whitehouse's regular online classes are £5 per session but if you want to try it out before you commit, The Artery’s next free paint along session is this Saturday from 11am - 12.30pm. The subject is a boat on a beach in watercolour.

"All people have to do is go to our Facebook page at around five to eleven and they should see the live video show up," said Mr Whitehouse. "Last Saturday’s lesson was amazing. We had 280 joining in with us on the day, and the recording of the video has since 3.5k views."

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