Windrush Arts Achiever of the Year Award 2003
National and international exhibitions
Public Art Collections: Huddersfield and Rochdale
Art Galleries, Arts Council Collection, V&A Print
Three full collections of poems and numerous
anthologies for children and adults
Forty years commitment to art education: Visual arts,
creative writing, carnival costume design across the
LURE OF THE CASCADURA (Bogle L'Ouverture 1989);
THE SUN RISES IN THE NORTH (Smith/Doorstop 1991);
BEHIND THE CARNIVAL (Smith/Doorstop 1994)
Poems included in A CARIBBEAN DOZEN (Walker Books 1996);
THE NEW BRITISH POETRY 1968-88 (Paladin Grafton Books 1988)
110 readings since 1985 including national and international festivals. 14 radio broadcasts since 1987 (BBC Radio 4, RTE Dublin). 8 TV appearances since 1989 (BBC, Granada).
I have known John Lyons for 13 years, as a professional colleague and a friend. He is friendly, cheery, has enormous integrity and is a real 'life enhancer'! John is reliable, professional, has high standards of himself and clearly enjoys what he does. In consequence, the work he enables children and staff to achieve is creative and of a high standard. Such is the quality of his work that I have regularly invited him to work with children in Oxfordhsire and Herefordshire schools on a wide range of art and poetry projects.
John is able to engage adults and children alike and to take them with him on the exploratory journey through the worlds of creating with pen or paint. Furthermore, he is able to inspire a love of the medium and generate in others confidence and a thrill of endeavour.
In a short space of time he invariably becomes a popular member of each school community and enriches it by dint of his natural skill and flair for his subjects.
I would recommend him without hesitation to any school looking to develop creativity and innovation in its students.
Inspection, Advice and School Performance Service
County of Herefordshire District Council
John Lyons has worked in partnership with Mid Pennine Arts and local schools on a number of occasions in recent years. The quality of John's work and his relationships with the children and teachers has always been of the highest quality.
A particularly successful project was a week-long recreation of the Trinidadian Carnival with Stubbins Primary School in Rossendale. John led INSET sessions with teachers before the week began. The normal timetable was suspended for the week. Each morning John took Assembly where he read poems about his family and childhood experiences in Trinidad. These were followed by every member of staff being a part of John's team of artists so that all the 230 children of the school were involved in cross-age workshops producing themed head-dresses for a carnival at the end of the week. John also mentored a young artist who had little experience in artist-led school workshops throughout the project.
Parents and the local community were invited to attend the carnival procession on the final day. In addition John, working in partnership with the teachers, set up an exhibition of the children's work which was open to the public over a weekend.
John's contribution to the programme was inspirational for both pupils and teachers. His high level interpersonal skills allowed him to build up a real rapport with the children and their teachers in a relatively short time. Children were encouraged to develop thinking and problem-solving skills, skills in painting and paper sculpture; they worked collaboratively to share ideas and they were sensitively supported to 'dance' their finished work in front of a public audience.
Teachers described the week as: '...inspirational ... we never believed that so much could be achieved ... I have learned so much ... a fantastic experience for the children ...' Whilst the children commented: '... why can't we do this every day ... I loved John reading to us ...'
I have no reservations in recommending John to work with children and young people in schools in both art and literacy workshops.
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