Hosting a window as a newcomer by Julia

Offering to host a window

When I first moved to Saltaire, I was keen to get involved with the Advent Calendar Windows, having been a visitor over the years. However, I could not describe myself as in any way artistic, so I was concerned about managing to produce something on my own. I know that the window trail is inclusive, new people are encouraged to take part, and support and advice is available, but I was still a little nervous…
Each year there are a number of community groups who want to produce a window, but do not have a building of their own in the Village. These have included a Hedgehog Charity, a twinned 19th century mill in Sweden, and this year, an arts group for children.
My first year, I agreed to host a window for the Shipley Glen Tramway: they are great supporters of Saltaire Inspired events, and usually run Santa special Trams at weekends throughout December.

How does it work?

Once I had agreed to host the window, and the date of opening, Living Advent Calendar put me in touch with the Tramway. They arranged to send their artist to visit my house and measure the window in which the calendar was to go. When they arrived, we discussed how it would be attached to the window, whether I had to take down my blind, and where the light would come from to illuminate the window.
The day before, I removed my blind, put an extension cable in place for the lights they wanted to plug in, and moved furniture from in front of the window for the installation.
That year, the installation arrived on two boards, one above, one below the window split. The illuminations were: twinkling fairy lights and a lighted word display with details of the Santa Specials, requiring 2 sockets. I also used a plug-in timer so that the display lit up each night at the right time, and switched off again. That meant that I didn’t have to remember or even be at home to light up.
The second year, I felt more confident so produced my own window (with help from family and friends).
I was asked to host again in my third year, this time for a window which was being produced in Sweden and posted to me to hang. I had a bit more input with this one, taking detailed measurements for them, and discussing practicalities. They produced a window picture that I could hang at the top and unroll, on a see-through fabric. Once it arrived, I experimented with lighting and eventually used a bedside lamp on the windowsill in front of the fabric, and a spotlight from behind, to get a good effect.

Would you be happy to host a window?

We are looking each year for kind hosts who will allow us to use their windows. If you think this is something that you would like to do, we can put you in touch with the window artists concerned and then let you discuss what is practical and desirable in your particular setting.

One of the best feelings was standing behind my window each evening as I heard visitors coming up to look at the display, hearing their comments. I was lucky enough to have two of my 3 windows selected for the Advent Calendar Christmas cards, a very proud moment!

Side-effects?

After my first year, I became involved with helping to organise the Living Advent Calendar. Folk I have met through this, the workshops, and volunteering with other Saltaire Inspired events have become firm friends, and made it much easier for me to settle down in Saltaire as a new resident. Be careful, it might be slightly addictive!

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