08/02/2019 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building, Community, Opinions
In January 2019 a seminar was held in the library to reflect on the Finding Maindee project. The delegates and presenters were asked to question the role of the arts in ‘place-recognition.’ This blog by Aled Singleton breaks down that complicated question and looks at some of the themes that emerged.
27/11/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library
This blog post is one part of a long overdue progress report. A substantial amount of time has passed since our last update; since the library re-inhabited 79 Chepstow Road, from our temporary home at Holbrook’s, back in June.
Changes have taken place both internally and externally, and over the next few weeks I will be sharing what has been happening.
06/08/2018 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community
In case you haven’t already seen, heard or wandered in… we are back in Maindee Library.
25/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Community, Library
Many people have found a home at Maindee Library and have missed the space during its closure. Thankfully the contractors So Exclusive will take away their tools at the start of June and the community will begin to re-inhabit Maindee Library. This blog article gives an idea of the changes that we can expect to see - such as fluted glass in the image below - and how the personal touches to this community building will be made over the summer.
Starting in June we have a range of art and design workshops - from product to interiors and mosaics - as we add personality to the space. Between 10am and 12 midday on Saturday June 2nd product designer David Henshall introduces the work to customise the library shelving system; 3pm-5pm on Monday 11 June architect George Lovesmith helps us plan flooring and fittings and on Wednesday 13 June artist Stephanie Roberts starts her library residency.
In this blog article we give you a guided tour of the spaces in the building. We connect these spaces with the opportunities to add what our art projects have found in Maindee!
18/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Learning, Library
We are about to make a series of investments in the fixtures and fittings in the main reading room at Maindee Library. As a place which holds a collection of books we are pleased that the first things to happen is an improvement to the shelves!
As with the spirit of the work done to the building so far, we are looking to create some new and functional from what is there already: we are going to ‘hack’ the current system with an elegant design - see image above - inspired by a group of Cardiff University Architecture Students. This blog explains the process of working with the student group and what happens next.
17/05/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library
The contract with So Exclusive reached a major milestone this week: the photo below captures the moment when the first pane of glass was placed into the roof above our meeting room.
As explained in the last blog post on 11 May, our new meeting room has been created by knocking the old toilet and boiler room through into what used to be the kitchen. We think everyone will be pleased with the personality and elegance of the small spaces in our building - especially as they used to be such dingy rooms.
This blog article gives a little bit more information on the small spaces within the library and the features that we expect to offer.
11/05/2018 | Development & Building, Community, Library
Over the past couple of months So Exclusive Developments have taken charge of the library building and made some big improvements and changes. Their focus has been on the small spaces which support the functionality of the library; the main changes to the main reading room will involve library volunteers, artists and makers and will start again in June 2018.
So Exclusive have now nearly finished all the work to construct and fit out the new meeting room [where the old toilet and kitchen used to be]; they have created a new kitchen space [where the old meeting room was] and made two new toilets in the space between kitchen and meeting room. To service the whole building the electrical systems have been updated, the boiler has been replaced, new radiators installed throughout and the main room has been insulated ready for the colder months.
This blog article provides some photos of the work carried out and also gives a taster of what will happen during the summer months as we go back into the building.
01/02/2018 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building
In mid December 2017 we went up to the Kickplate Project’s 76m2 exhibition space in Pontypool to have a chat with Dafydd Williams. Dafydd spent a week in October as an artist in residence in Maindee - taking portraits next to the toilets at the Triangle on Livingstone Place.
This blog article recalls how art projects help us sense whether towns and settlements of all sizes have a centre - or not. What are the conditions that change relationships with places? How does Maindee in Newport compare to industrial valleys towns like Pontypool and Abertillery where populations have more than halved in 100 years.
We also also talked about Warsaw in Poland, where the majority of the city had been destroyed in WWII. What happens when people have to think again about what they want from their town or city. Above all we confirmed in our minds that arts activities help to bring people together and help us make conversation.
30/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Learning
For the last couple of years we have been trying to find Maindee. To be honest this is hard as the people living in this place keep on changing and there are other names which confuse the geography... like Corporation Road, Victoria and even Beechwood. Last week we went to the end of X24 bus route from Newport - to the town at the top of the valley called Blaenavon.
This article mostly centres on what we learned from Jayne Skyrme [pictured above left], who lives and works in Blaenavon. What we found were some lessons about facilitating enterprise and understanding what it means when a place has a strong sense of its own identity.
29/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Library
This week we will receive quotations from contractors to carry out the first phase of works to the building. With a written proposal we will then be in a situation to enter a contract for the work; gone will be the big questions about how long the work will take and how much it will cost.
This blog is essentially a diary entry written before the big event. We explain some detail about the Arts Council of Wales' socially-engaged process which got us to this stage and some of the challenges which we have confronted - or maybe about to properly face...
23/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Development & Building
The November New Paths session explored creativity and asked about ways of making money. The main focus for the session was the presentation delivered by the student group making the mobile cafe, with updates on Cinema Speaks from Bernie and Fez giving us some background on how the Newport Photomarathon been shaped and delivered.
We also moved the session from the library over the road to Holbrook Studio, which was the HQ for the Newport Photomarathon and also the venue for a new creative business that Fez is developing.
10/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community, Learning
On Tuesday 7th November 2017 we hosted a memorable and successful seminar which started with presentations on the specifics of public toilets, but broadened out [as we had hoped] towards wider discussions about public space and social justice. To pick one message from the day is quite easy: Clara Greed said that: “We have to talk toilets because if we’re too embarrassed to talk about them then we won’t get policy right.”
This blog article gives us a resume of the day and sets out what a small charity like Maindee Unlimited, based in a very specific locality, may be able to do to protect and provide public toilets in a place like ours. As such we will explore the following questions: (1) how can communities organise around issues of provision e.g. for consultations like the one which we learned will happen in Wales in 2018; (2) can toilets become/make desirable urban destinations and (3) Are Local authorities still the best-placed provider for toilets?
03/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building, Community
Next week we run our first public seminar since the event on Church Road in June 2014 which helped to plan Finding Maindee. Three years on many artists, volunteers and members of the public have gained experience of running the library and working through the challenge to Find Maindee. In the wider world of public space the impacts of austerity have continued; in Newport - like every locality in Wales and the UK - we are collectively having to make very difficult decisions about what is worth sustaining.
Though the event next week focuses on the important issue of toilets, with some excellent speakers and links to policy-makers at Welsh Government, we want to go further and ask what this means for social justice. For example, are models such as the Business Improvement District [BID] an alternative way to manage public space and to what extent are the civic or the community, that’s to say volunteers, willing to go in taking on responsibilities for public services and public facilities? Is this fair?
This blog article outlines the social justice debate that this seminar will explore and why the arts are providing opportunities to explore the use of public space in Maindee.
30/10/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Learning
We are making a lot of progress with our food and drink serving counter since architect George Lovesmith [pictured below left] connected us with a group of architecture students at UWE in Bristol. We wanted something that could be moved around the building and even taken outside for events and last week we tried their life size mock-up at the Library Soup event [Weds 25th October].
The group of four [pictured left to right – Sammy, Matt, Verity and Brad] have been given a budget to make a product and will be presenting their work to us on November 16th. This blog article adds more to the intitial research [17th October] and shares some of the feedback from the library soup event...
27/10/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library
From November 2017 Tricia Rogers will be in charge of the rota which organises the library volunteers. She will follow Kim Lambert who has given her time to do the work for the past two years.
Typically there are about 20 different people who volunteer at the library each week and roughly 6 different volunteer shifts every day. This blog article gives a little background on how Tricia got involved and what she gets from being involved in the library...
17/10/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library
We are very pleased that four architecture students from UWE in Bristol are getting involved with our project. The group of four postgraduate students - Sammy, Verity, Matt and Brad - will help us design a food and drink serving counter for the library.
We want something that could be moved around the building and even taken outside. They have until November 16th to develop and produce their ideas and you will first have the chance to meet them at Library soup event from 4pm on Wednesday 25th October. This blog article gives some background on what they are doing and why it is valuable to our work and also for their learning.
06/10/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Learning
Writing this article in early October 2017 we are getting close to making the first changes to the Maindee Library building. Everybody asks why things seem to take such a long time to happen? The honest answer is that as we explore this building we sense that it has its own personality and that there are many complex relationships between all the different processes [not least human behaviours] needed to make the refresh happen.
This piece of writing explores how changing one part of the building will have knock-on effects in other parts [see real image above taken of the library boiler room]. We also deliberate embracing renewable heating systems… the upfront capital price versus the lifetime running costs. In many respects we hope that other small charities will be able to read this account and benefit from our little adventure...
30/09/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library
Another year in the history of Maindee Unlimited, the charity which supports the library, was celebtrated on the evening of Monday September 2017. This meeting was both a chance to present the year to date, including the finances, and also to hear from some other groups in Newport that are taking on creative community-led projects: the Cwtsh and Le Public Space.
This blog provides some detail about the evening, with links to the other presentations.
19/09/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Development & Building
Since the summer of 2017 architects and artists KHBT have been working on design proposals for the triangle-shaped land at the junction of Chepstow Road and Livingstone Place. In July they made a first visit and then came again the present initial proposals to the New Paths Gathering in August. Since then views and ideas have been sought; there have been changes to the design and we now have more detailed proposals and a hand-made scale model in the library [see below].
07/09/2017 | Development & Building, Library
We are looking for reliable local trades people and contractors, to carry out the refurbishment works at Maindee Library. If you can help or know a trade who can, please complete the questionnaire.
04/09/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Learning, Library
On Monday 4th we welcomed Endaf Griffiths from Wavehill Consulting to the library for discussion about evaluation; how we are gathering data and how we learn. We had a diverse range of views and perspectives at the meeting, including from PhD researcher Eugene Dubens, Maindee Unlimited trustee Angela Lloyd, artist Stephanie Roberts and somebody quite new to the library Kay Flatten.
This blog article explains the conversation we had and gives an approach to project evaluation. We provide some detail about how we are gathering data and reflecting on practice as we: (1) develop capital projects such as work to Maindee Library; (2) work individuals and organisations as part of our monthly gatherings and running projects such as through New Paths; and (3) how we are learning by doing.
03/09/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Learning
On Tuesday 29 August 2017 John Hallam [pictured below] delivered a training session called ‘Being a Trustee’ to some of Mainee Unlimited’s board of trustees; and also to some people interested in joining the board. This short blog article shares some of the discussion from the session, alongside some video links and an invitation to our annual general meeting [AGM] at 6pm on Monday 18th.
30/08/2017 | Development & Building, Community, Library
To accompany our latest film [see below] about the library makeover this blog gives a bit more detail about the options that we have for the small spaces within the library.
Our architects Sarah and George have looked at different options for the small spaces at the library. Their thinking centres on what people have told us from the questionnaire: a need for better toilet facilities and an attractive meeting space. We now have two main options.
With both options we move the toilets away from their current location at the back of the space and towards the middle. We can therefore make the most of the natural light which comes from the street [via a new opening off the lobby] and light to the rear by creating a new window at the back.
A key feature of both the options is that they enable these Small Spaces to be rented out independent of the main library space, without compromising privacy [such as for the Road to Wellbeing sessions on Wednesday evenings] or security of the PCs and so on.
23/08/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library
Thanks for spending time giving us your thoughts and ideas this summer. Maggie and Kim have gathered your questionnaires about the library over July and August and group of library volunteers also had the chance to be architects. Our paid architects have used all these ideas to propose a first phase of works.
We have now defined the first phase of the work to the library: this will concentrate on what we call the small spaces to renovate the toilets, backroom spaces and the meeting room that we hire out. We will also find a more efficient way to heat and cool the building. It will take some time this autumn to get the necessary approval from building control and to find the right contractors. We will get the work done this winter.
This blog article gives background on how we have made these decisions to form this first phase. We explain here how we will develop incrementally, as per the Ideas: People: Places thinking of our principal funders the Arts Council of Wales, to test our ideas as we going along and make changes to the building bit by bit. After the small spaces the other stages of the project will include the main library space, what we call the building envelope [windows and external doors], works to the space in front of the building and a dedicated space for children.
02/08/2017 | Development & Building, Learning, Library
On the evening of Tuesday 1st August a group of 12 people involved in Maindee Library were given the chance to be architects. We put on hard hats and made some real progress to understand budgeting, particularly the overheads, but we did get to feel how we can all be deal brokers and decision makers.
The session was hosted by Rosie Poebright, who created a game which put paper money in our hands, and was assisted by George Lovesmith [pictured above left] who is our real life architect. This blog article takes us through the games that we played and how it really helped to build enthusiasm and momentum for the task that we are currently on.
- Evaluation: SWOT - 16/04/2019
- Evaluation: What are we doing? - 05/04/2019
- Finding Maindee: Reflection & Evaluation - 25/03/2019
- The push and pull of place - 08/02/2019
- St Mary's Community Garden - 18/01/2019
- Maindee Library: Welcome Back/Welcome Mat - 27/11/2018
- Maindee Library: A Quiet Place? - 16/08/2018
- Maindee Library: Business As Usual - 06/08/2018
- Preparing to Re-inhabit Maindee Library - 25/05/2018
- Investing in Maindee Library’s Shelving - 18/05/2018