The Arsenal Foundation

Rowan Arts

The Arsenal Foundation has donated money to Rowan Arts, a local charity that uses art to help strengthen the local community and organises the annual Holloway Arts Festival. Christopher Froome, 35, from Islington, reveals how he got involved...

"As a local boy I’ve moved around Islington a lot, and have had various jobs over the years. But I also became homeless for a while and was then living in hostels and shared housing.

"It’s been tough getting back in to full-time work and I was suffering with depression, so I felt I should do some voluntary work. I enjoy art so I decided to find somewhere I could volunteer and get help putting my work on display.

"I heard Mind could help so I went to them and they helped me find what I was looking for – I discovered Rowan Arts in 2012.

"I started out in the office doing admin duties. Rowan Arts had created a website called Holloway Life and I started helping by learning how to do web design. I then discovered the Holloway Arts Festival and wanted to be part of it – it’s a great place to be with the community, with lots of different activities and events, stalls with food and art and music.

"In 2013 I entered Islington Exhibits and had my first solo exhibition at Archway Library, and last year I entered again. Ruth Robinson, the director of Rowan Arts, gave me the opportunity to do a public mural at the Hideaway Bar in Archway.

"The owner wanted something that told a story with lots of detail so I did various landscapes, and the mural covers the whole hallway leading from the bar upstairs to the garden.

"I also recently got involved in Rowan Arts Turquoise Open Mic, which is every Thursday from 8pm. I’d done a lot of songwriting as a hobby, and I wanted to see what kind of reaction I got when I performed live. So far it’s been good all round!

"I highly recommend Rowan Arts for anyone who wants to get involved in the arts as they have strong connections in Islington and are really helpful. Also it’s a great place to volunteer – they have so many different projects going on and it’s a really friendly environment.

"Rowan Arts have done so much for me and my experience there has benefited me so much – I’ve improved in art and music, but also in admin and social skills. I have more confidence and enthusiasm and always enjoy my time there. It’s a great place to meet new people."

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