3 years on | Family Saturdays (In conversation with Jordan Baines)

As the crowdfunding campaign to #SaveFamilySaturdays gets underway, we’re using this opportunity to reflect upon the last three years of running these free and inclusive arts workshops.

The sessions, which started in 2016, have provided over 3,000 children and families with the opportunity to get creative, developing new skills whilst spending quality time with their parents/guardians.

We’ve sat down with our workshop leaders, also practicing artists, to get to to grips with what makes these creative sessions so important to them, as well as the children and families who take part every week.




Jordan Baines has been leading the workshops since their conception, initially working alongside artist Alison Carlier during the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award residency with engage. As well as being a workshop facilitator, Jordan also works as a Print Technician at the University of Portsmouth.

Jordan Baines has also donated artworks as rewards for pledges to our crowdfunding campaign. CLICK HERE to see what’s up for grabs - and how you can support these workshops.

Aspex (A) - Explain to us your role in Family Saturdays.

Workshop Leader (WL) – I am responsible for responding to an ever evolving exhibition programme through the means of participatory art and craft workshops for families in our community. I design and facilitate the workshops for families to enjoy and learn from.

A - Why did you originally get involved and what have you learnt from leading these sessions?

WL – I started getting involved with Aspex when studying for my Master’s Degree in Illustration at the University of Portsmouth. I enrolled myself on the New Educators programme as it was a platform that allowed me to gain valuable experience in a career path I wanted to explore. The role held as a New Educator allowed me to develop the appropriate skills and offer my services as a freelance workshop facilitator.

They taught me how to construct a workshop within a gallery setting and how to deliver one through several masterclasses from practicing artists. They invested in me, and now I can reinvest that knowledge and experience back into my current freelance role.

I have learnt many things working with Aspex, from social skills, working very closely with a variety of families right through to creative skills by planning and delivering the workshops. Every week I deliver a workshop I end up taking something away from it as each workshop is very different from the last.

A - What is your favourite part about your job?

Workshop Leader (WL) – There are so many favourite parts about this job. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the people. The people and families that come to Family Saturdays are really special to the programme. From Family Saturdays humble beginnings 3 years ago we have evolved into a large ‘Aspex Family’, in which I personally have created many friendships.

Working alongside children is always rewarding especially when creativity is thrown into the mix. Their imaginations are so vivid, the beauty of the work produced from the workshops are really wonderful and it is a pleasure to be a part of that process. I have come into this role to hopefully engage and inspire young children and their parents and carers to be more creative in whatever capacity they see fit and I do believe over that past three years we have achieved and this and continue to do so!

A - Since joining these sessions in 2016, what has been your most memorable moment?

WL – The most memorable moment will be one that probably happens most weeks! When a child comes running up to you to show you what they have just created. That is a very special moment. 

A - Why are these sessions - or in general, taking part in creative activities, important for families and children?

WL – Not all families have the access to be able to do these kind of art/craft activities at home or in school. Funding is constantly being cut from schools and parents might not have the know how or confidence to have some art based fun at home.

So the importance of these set ups like Family Saturdays is crucial for children and adults. It improves their development within a social environment, their skills within a multitude of techniques and allows them to make new friendships. Aspex is a safe space where all children including those with SEN/D can come and explore and their own pace.

We have seen these sessions becoming increasingly popular over the past three years. I believe this is down to our set up and our approach to art and families.

A - What would you say to parents/guardians looking to take part?

WL – Don’t be scared! – Even if you feel you have zero percent artistic skill, these workshops are not all about creating a ‘work of art’. It is about spending some quality time with your family, in a safe environment. During a workshop we will always try to meet and greet you. Often if you are not recognised we will ask if you have been before and we will  make you feel like one of the Aspex Family. Also, you haven’t got to deal with all the mess! Oh and did I mention it is free!

A - Why should people pledge their support to support Family Saturdays?

WL – With uncertain times lying ahead, there is less and less funding for schools to practice arts. So if organisations such as Aspex and its programmes like Family Saturday can stay free for its community, then more children and their families can enjoy the arts, practice the arts and their education and livelihoods can be enriched by the arts. We need a little bit of financial support so we can continue to deliver this wonderful arts programme, it has been free for three years and if this were to stop so many families would be effected.