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ArtHouse, Southport Contemporary Arts:- "Artist of the Month: Suzanna Gregg"

FOLLOWING the footsteps of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, local mixed media artist, Suzanna Gregg, has also been seduced by the potential of working with mixed media and Collage to create her own distinctive 'cut and paste' assemblages:- "My practice is somewhat eclectic and often messy, with a love for experimenting and trying something new."

Derived from the French term:- 'papiers collés,' the most famous contemporary Collage is probably the LP sleeve art that Pop artist, Peter Blake, created for The Beatles 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' 1st released in 1967.

Having been advised not to pursue art while at School, Suzanna has since gone on to prove her teachers wrong:- "Many years later, in 2012, I wanted a creative outlet. I attended a few art classes where I quickly realized that, with a good teacher and perseverance, we all have the ability to make art. Since then, I have discovered a love for experimenting with different techniques and media, and I have the creative outlet I was looking for. Any time spent making art, for me, is happy time."

Recycling the ephemera of everyday life, Suzanna's cutting edge Collages are sensitive rearrangements of found materials incorporating imagery scavenged from a wide variety of sources. "My process varies enormously, sometimes beginning with a theme, word or phrase, and at other times with an inspiring image. Either way, finding the perfect individual pictures and papers is the most challenging and time-consuming aspect of the work. Once these are gathered, composing and making the finished piece is relatively quick and simple. Papers are cut or torn, then positioned and moved around to find the best composition. Each piece is then glued down, and a brayer (small roller) used to ensure a smooth finish."

All the pieces in the Artist of the Month exhibition are Collage/mixed media, using painted papers, found papers and magazine photos:- "All of my pieces tell the story of something that has either captured my imagination or touched my emotions."

The reinvented playing cards on display are part of an ongoing, yearlong #deckofcardsCollagechallenge. Their surreal assembly has a hint of the Dadaism that challenged traditional perceptions of art during the 1920s:- "Working on such a small scale demands simplicity. Often only 2 or 3 separate pieces are required to create a finished Collage."

Responding to a further online experiment (#icad2022), Suzanna's multimedia:- 'Index Card A Day' is part of her:- 'Cornish Coast' Series:- "This card was inspired by Rowena Cade the creator of the Minack open air theatre in Porthcurno."

Certainly not 1 to be missed, this latest showing by Suzanna will be on display at the:- ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport, Merseyside, from:- 27 August to 24 September 2022. The gallery is open:- Tuesday; Friday, from:- 10am to 3pm. Saturday:- 11am to 4pm.

Family fun with Junior Wetland Rangers and hand feeding birds returns to Martin Mere

DON'T miss your chance to become a fully fledged Junior Wetland Ranger at Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Lancashire, this August and bring your family to help us with our daily mission to save wetland nature. With surprising wildlife encounters guaranteed, unique experiences aplenty and memorable adventures assured the summer is not over yet. Our wetlands are the perfect natural playground to inspire imaginations. Pick up a FREE trail card and set off for a full day of discovery and adventure and learn how to care for and protect our beautiful wetlands with a wide variety of exciting wetland ranger activities including:-

Flamingo health checks - find out from our team how we keep our flamingos safe and healthy and have a go at things like; examining, weighing, measuring, and x-raying a flamingo.

Pond exploring; what fascinating underwater creatures will you uncover in our ponds? See how many different species you can identify.

Bird ringing; discover what leg rings are and why they're important. Have a go at things like; how to measure, weigh and ring a bird.

Arts and crafts; Make a weather station, design a magnifying glass, or grow your own wildflower seed in the craft room between:- 1pm and 4pm.

Canoe and boat safaris; paddle through beautiful waterways and come face to face with kingfishers, water voles, dragonflies and other wetland wonders

Wild walk; discover amazing mini beasts at 1 of the world's largest bug hotels and around our wetland.

Albie and Rory have already got stuck in completing ranger activities and collected their ranger badge. They said:- "The whole day was amazing. The pond dipping was our favourite part. We found a tadpole, newt and water scorpion. We really liked doing the x-ray with the flamingos."

Make the most of the rest of the remaining time for this years summer holidays with a family adventure in the great outdoors! Explore our wildlife rich wetlands up close on a guided boat tour or self-guided canoe safari, and enjoy family favourites like pond dipping to keep everyone entertained. With a WWT family membership, you can keep coming back to our wetland centres all year long from as little as £6.25 a month and enjoy upcoming events such as Animal Magic, eek! week, and the North West Bird Watching Festival. Unlimited entry, unlimited fun!

Also, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Martin Mere Wetland Centre have received the green light to allow visitors to hand feed birds again. The anticipated news comes after almost a year of hand feeding being taken off the list of activities at the centre, following Government guidelines and to protect the captive collection from the spread of avian flu.

Nick Brookes, General Manager at WWT Martin Mere, said:- "We know our visitors have missed being able to hand feed the birds and have been eagerly waiting to hear the news that it's returning to the centre. We are pleased to announce that as of 16 August 2022, we can offer this experience again."

During your visit, you can see birds from around the world. The centre is home to around 85 species as part of the living collection, representing birds from wetlands in:- Australia, Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. You will be able to get closer to and feed flamingos, swans, geese, and many ducks, such as the Shelduck, white faced whistling duck, Indian runner duck, and tufted duck. The 600 acre reserve also attracts plenty of wildlife, with over 150 species of birds which you can spot from the views of the hides around the reserve. You can find out more about hand feeding by visiting the information desk located in the shop during your visit. To learn more you can go to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust website:- WWT.Org.UK.

Back to School? HMRC can help with childcare costs

AS millions of children go back to School this Autumn, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is reminding families in the North West to not miss out on up to £2,000 a year towards their child's wraparound care. Tax Free Childcare puts more money back in the pockets of working families by providing much needed financial support towards the cost of childcare for children aged 11 or under, or up to 17 if the child has a disability. For every £8 paid into a Tax-Free Childcare online account, families will automatically receive an additional £2 in Government top up.

Families receive up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) per child, or £1,000 (£4,000 a year) if their child is disabled, helping towards the cost of before and after-School clubs, childminders and Nurseries, holiday clubs and other approved childcare schemes. In June 2022, 51,250 working families in the North West benefitted from Tax-Free Childcare; but thousands more could be missing out. Overall in June, HMRC paid out £41.6 million in top-up payments, which was shared between approximately 391,000 families across the UK. Families can find out what childcare support is best for them via Childcare Choices.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said:- "Tax Free Childcare can make a big difference to families in the North West, helping with the bills for things like wraparound care for School children, Nurseries, childminders and holiday clubs. It's easy to register; search:- 'Tax Free Childcare' on GOV.UK."

More than 1 million families in the UK are entitled to some form of Government childcare support and the Government is encouraging those eligible to not miss out on their entitlements. For thousands of families who use Tax-Free Childcare, the money they save each month on their childcare costs is money that goes back into their pockets. Accounts can be opened at any time of the year and can be used straight away, and money can be deposited at any time and used when needed. Any unused money that is deposited can be simply withdrawn at any time.

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