Reviews, Visual Art

Six Streets Derby Arts Trail

As described on their website ‘Six Streets is a not-for-profit, non-political and non-religious community group. It exists to increase neighbourliness and friendship.’ Now in its second year, the arts trail is an event organised by the area’s residents spread over 10 streets with over 40 exhibitors as well as cafes and live music. 

We arrived in the Six Streets area (at the university end of Kedleston Road) just after 12; after buying a programme/map and badge for £3, we decided to have lunch at one of the many pop-up cafés set up in the kitchens and back gardens of residents on the arts trail; the café where we ate was run by The Red Pepper Food Company. I queued up in the busy kitchen and ordered an incredible olive, sun-dried tomato and goat’s cheese scone followed by a falafel, hummus and salad wrap and finished off with an enormous slice of chocolate fudge cake and a cup of coffee all for £8. We sat outside under a gazebo listening to Bach and Gershwin drifting out of the French windows from the piano in the living room. Although we didn’t get to see any, some of the pop-up cafés also played host to live bands.

After lunch we set off on the arts trail up an avenue of yarn-bombed trees (I was informed by a six year old girl later on that her school had been instrumental in providing the knitted ordinances). All of the artists on the trail had set up mini galleries in people’s living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens which meant that, as well as seeing a lot of fantastic art work and chatting with the artists themselves about the work on display, it also allowed me to indulge in the otherwise antisocial pastime of having a nosey around stranger’s houses.

One of the artists that we spoke to was Barbara Colbert whose work is heavily influenced by mythology and nature; this was evidenced by the huge charcoal drawings of an Icarus-like figure and nautilus shells adorning the walls. She also found a novel use for the bits of stuff that she would find around the house; a broken watch, a safety plug, a set of keys, a pen lid etc. She glued them to a large picture frame and sprayed it white, with striking effect.

As well as the Arts Trail there was also the History Trail which provided a fascinating insight into the past of the Six Streets area. Posters hanging outside houses described the social and architectural heritage of certain buildings and when we arrived at the Women’s Institute on Newton’s Walk for tea and scones there was an exhibition of photographs and blueprints from around the area celebrating the coronation along with a collection of memorabilia from the 1950s.

Other highlights of the trail that spring to mind were Mary Johnson’s creepy crawly ceramics which were on display in her own workshop; Kester Savage’s black and white photo collages of Derby and Paul Johnstone’s paintings which are soon to be exhibited at the Artsmith gallery on Monk Street. 

There were also children’s activities at the Women’s Institute and the Pirates, Princess and Pony Play area and a café proudly advertising that you could listen to the cricket or watch one of the many James Martin cookery programmes on the Sky+ box. Apart from the typical British weather this was a fantastic day out; the friendliness of the residents, exhibitors and other visitors truly embodied the group’s ethos of community spirit.

There were so many artists exhibiting their work that the 5 hours that we were there was not enough time to see them all. You can find out more about the artists on the Six Streets Arts Trail website.


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