Alison McCrea

Apple Fest Juice Legacy

Continue reading

Gawain and the Green Knight – Crowdfunding Call

Gawain – diligence and faith by Sue Prince

A one-off arts event is taking place in Leek in November celebrating the links between the Staffordshire Moorlands and the epic medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This 14th century Arthurian tale features chivalry, romance, temptation and a beheading challenge.  Members of the public will be invited to take part and make their mark in a pictorial retelling of the tale guided by local, internationally known artist Sue Prince.  People will also be able to listen to a talk, eat medieval food and take a guided walk to the stunning Lud’s Church with Gawain specialist Clive Foden.

To support the weekend’s events and make a pledge, please visit and keep an eye out for updates and further information.  You can follow on Facebook at Sir Gawain and Leek or on Twitter @sirgawainleek.

Most scholars now agree that the unknown author of the Gawain poem came from this area and tell-tale signs of this are not only the local accent and words which appear throughout the work, but also local features, such as The Roaches and Lud’s Church, which figure in the action.  The event is being organised by the Dr Plot’s Lesser Known Leek committee who celebrate the poem each July with a parade through the town, complete with giants, culminating in a re-telling of the tale to delighted crowds.

Before the public workshops, Sue Prince, who lives in Ilam, will teach the skill of painting a ‘bonad’ (a style of narrative folk art in egg tempera) to art students at Leek College, and some will become her expert helpers. Then on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November, everyone is invited to come to the college, learn the technique and add to Sue’s version of the story: they can even paint a medieval version of themselves along the bottom of the artwork.

Clive Foden, a skilled woodcarver and Gawain specialist, will travel from Norfolk to deliver one of his enthralling talks on the evening of Saturday 17th November at the Foxlowe Arts Centre.  He will discuss the poet’s interest in craftsmanship as well as the unmistakeable landscape clues in the poem. The following day, Sunday 18th, Clive will also lead a guided walk over The Roaches and down into Lud’s Church – the poem’s Chapel in the Green where Gawain meets the Green Knight to submit to beheading!

All the events are free (apart from a small transport cost to the guided walk) and to enable them, a crowdfunding campaign was launched on 24 September (running for four weeks) to raise the £3375 needed. There are lots of exciting rewards in return for sponsorship!

People can choose to be immortalised in this unique artwork by being depicted as a character from the poem, such as Sir Bertilak and his lovely wife, or King Arthur and Guinevere.  Other possibilities are Knights of the Round Table, several courtly ladies, and Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s wicked sister.  There are even a number of mythical beasts like the woodwose. Or perhaps your horse could be Gringolet, or your dog a hunting hound? Other rewards on offer are the opportunity to be a giant and take part in the annual Dr Plot’s celebration as Gawain or the Green Knight. or being taught how to play medieval bagpipes.  But if none of those tempt you, then there you will be able to pledge for copies of Sue Prince’s stunning finished artwork in various forms, or just make a donation, so there’s something for everyone and to suit every pocket!

To support the weekend’s events and make a pledge, please visit and keep an eye out for updates and further information.  You can follow on Facebook at Sir Gawain and Leek or on Twitter @sirgawainleek.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of four late 14th century Middle English poems, written in a North West Midland dialect (the others being Pearl, Purity and Patience) and surviving in a single manuscript, held in the British Library. All are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, now known either as the Pearl or the Gawain Poet, believed to have lived and worked around Leek, North Staffordshire. 

For further information

Please contact Lindsay Trevarthen on or 07989-986672.

Earth, Sea And Sky

Earth, Sea And Sky – Paintings by Philip Bennett.

A personal view

For two centuries our understanding of the English landscape has been shaped and conditioned by those great works of the 18th Century landscape painters. However, developments in the visual technologies over the past two decades have made looking and seeing on a micro and macro scale available to each and everyone of us. We are a very sophisticated visual society, and it can be said with certainty that we all perceive the world around us in very unique and individual ways.

Gigging the Blues Away

The ever-growing Leek Blues & Americana Festival is returning this autumn – and once again the Foxlowe will be one of the many venues across the town which will be hosting gigs.

First up will be the UK public premiere of the blues film Sidemen: Long Road to Glory (12A) on Tuesday October 2. Admission £5.

Then The Guy Tortora Band will be performing at the Foxlowe on Wednesday October 3. Born and raised in Pasadena, California, Guy Tortora is currently based in London. He is a guitar player of some accomplishment and a distinctive songwriter. He will be joined for this Foxlowe gig by Dave Luke and Chuck Micallef.

Then on Sunday October 7, there will be an amazing selection (FXLW Anericana) of some of the finest local, national and international Americana acts taking to the Foxlowe stage. The line-up is: Adam Coxon & Rick Ford, The Rye Sisters, Mean Mary & Frank James, Fine Lines, Lissy Taylor, and Strange Blue Dreams.

Wristbands £10 for 16 year olds and over.

Free admission for under 16s.

For further information about, and to purchase tickets for all Leek Blues & Americana gigs, visit

Talks Programme – 2018


We have a regular programme of talks by local speakers on subjects of topical or local interest.

Autumn talks for 2018 are Leek’s Silk Heritage by Cathryn Walton on Wednesday, 19th September; Foxlowe: Launch of the Heritage Lottery Project by David Bell on Wednesday, 17th October and Leek: a Historic Pub Crawl by Neil Collingwood on Wednesday, 21st November.

All talks start at 7:30 pm.

For full details of all the talks, see the online Calendar (What’s On), which can be sorted by category (e.g. Talks).

The lecturers in this programme ‘gift’ their talks to Foxlowe, for which we thank them.

Admission is free, with a Bucket Collection, also for Foxlowe, for which we thank you.



ST13 Sept-Oct 2018

An on-line copy of ST13 (No 53) is now available.

Follow the links for the full text:

ST13 COVER Sep – Oct 2018

ST13 INSIDE Sep – Oct 2018


Funding success for the Foxlowe

Foxlowe Arts Centre has received a National Lottery grant of £100,000 for a two and a half year programme of urgent repairs to the Foxlowe building, together with a programme of heritage and arts activities designed to tell the story of Foxlowe and its inhabitants over 250 years. With support through the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus critical additional support from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Staffordshire County Council, this project will address the urgent need to make the most vulnerable parts of this Grade II listed building properly and completely watertight: stopping further deterioration, eliminating rot in the 18th century roof, removing failed cement render trapping damp and replacing with lime render, and repairing copings, rainwater goods and rotten windows.

In an exciting collaboration with Leek and District Historical Society, Borderland Voices, Buxton and Leek College, and Northern International Theatre, this project will tell the story of Foxlowe and its occupants over two and a half centuries – wealthy private owners, a Red Cross hospital, a key textile Trade Union, a night club, and now an Arts Centre; and of their influence on local culture and society.

Building on previous arts and heritage activities, we will use community arts outreach to pioneer new access to heritage, and media from theatre to visual arts to revitalise archives and showcase original research. Further details of this will be launched in the Autumn.

Commenting on the award, Foxlowe Trust Chairman Chris Thompson said: “This is great news. The Heritage Lottery award is an endorsement of Foxlowe: both as a significant part of Leek architecture, and as a place that can bring people together to share and celebrate their history and culture.

“There is still a huge amount to do to restore the interior, to make the building accessible for all, and to improve the performance space.  But that’s for the future.  Meanwhile we depend on the goodwill of hundreds of volunteers and the regular financial support of our 250 pledgers to keep us going.  We are continuing to fundraise, and I am sure National Lottery support will help give other funders the confidence to back us.”

Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF West Midlands, added: “We have been delighted to support Foxlowe Arts Centre to carry out urgent repairs and engage new audiences with this much-loved local landmark. Thank you to the National Lottery players who have made it possible.”

Foxlowe Comedy


The Foxlowe hosts a regular monthly comedy programme, with comedians from Funhouse Comedy, one of the UK’s foremost promoters and bookers of live stand-up comedy. They were established in 2004 and now arrange comedy shows at over 30 venues and festivals as well as providing comedians for private events.

They book everything from total beginners on their new act gong shows, to big league pro acts. Acts they book regularly appear on TV shows such as “Mock The Week”, “Have I Got News For You?” and “Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow”.

Leek Comedy Club takes place on the first Thursday in the month.  For details, see the online Calendar (What’s On), which can be sorted by category (Comedy).

Doors 7.30pm.  Tickets in advance online, from the venue (01538 386112), or on the door.

In addition, we periodically host shows with high-profile comedians.  Recent highly popular comedians coming to the Foxlowe have been Shappi Khorsandi, Jeremy Hardy and Phill Jupitus, while multi-award winning character comedian, Tom Binns, has been a regular visitor.

Autumn Film Programme

Our new film programme starts on Tuesday, 11th September and the first film will be Ladybird (15).  The Children’s Matinee will be the hilarious Early Man (PG), but please note that this will be screened on a Tuesday afternoon (30th October), as was the previous children’s film.  The film will be preceded by a morning creative workshop at Haregate Community Centre from 10.30 to 12.30.  For details see the printed programme or the website entry for the film.

As ever, Foxlowe Films aim where possible to match films in the programme to other events in Leek.  This season, we are proud to be screening Sidemen: Long Road to Glory (12A) on the eve of the Leek Blues and Americana Festival. This film is an intimate look at the lives and legacies of three legendary bluesmen: piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen.

Later in the season we will be joining other groups in the town to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, a landmark event.  In the week following the 11th November, we will be screening The Breadwinner (12A), a film about an 11-year old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.  It’s a luminous tale about growing up in an ever-changing world of conflict and oppression, the strength of girls, and the power of stories to sustain hope through dark times.

The Wednesday documentary on the following day is A Bold Peace (UC), which outlines Costa Rica’s groundbreaking experiment undertaken over 65 years ago to improve the nation’s welfare by disbanding their army and redirecting national resources to public education and universal health care.  We are excited to be able to screen this film, as it does not appear to have been widely available in the UK, and, surprisingly, few people on this side of the Atlantic seem to be aware of the experiment, let alone that it was so successful.

Printed programmes are now available (the tickets are on their way) and the films are on both the website (Whats’s On) and the ticketing site.  A  downloadable copy of the programme is also available.

St. Edward’s C. of E. Academy Middle School

Like previous displays from St. Edwards, this exhibition is a visual delight.  It includes a colourful set of collaged Cupcakes, Black ink drawings of Beetles, a textile hanging and a photograph of a 4 foot Butterfly, which was unfortunately too large for the allotted space.