Scarborough Old Parcels Office hosts Christmas adventure made of recycled materials

Saving the environment is essential and Christmas comes at an ecological price. John Blow reports on one Yorkshire coast arts project aiming to turn the tide.

A focus on saving the environment has been high on the agenda in recent months in the run up to and following Cop26 – and the issue of how to avoid harmful waste over the festive period will be more pressing over the coming years.

On the Yorkshire coast, the arts community is doing its bit to spread cheer with a message – that Christmas doesn’t have to be at the expense of the climate.

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An interactive “art adventure” called Grue is coming to the Old Parcels Office in Westborough, Scarborough, between December 4 and 21.

Steven Wintercroft. Picture by Paul J James.

Built by the community and made entirely out of recycled and repurposed materials, the project aims to show “what is possible with a bit of imagination and old cardboard”, inspiring people to think differently about packaging and waste during the Christmas period.

Steve Wintercroft, the Yorkshire artist at the helm of the experience, says: “It’s been brilliant working in Scarborough on such a large and ambitious project.

“Grue highlights the transformative power of creativity and explores what can be achieved with an empty space and a belief that we are all creative. We hope the work inspires children and their families to experiment with their Christmas packaging and think creatively about materials we usually regard as rubbish.”

Grue takes its name from an historic word for snow or shiver, and will be a walk-through experience, taking families “on a journey through forest, town, sea and sky”, blending exploration and art with creative people on hand to help visitors make a memorable Christmas decoration.

The experience is aimed at families and will explore ideas around sustainability and community to unlock the imaginations of young people from around the Yorkshire coast.

The venue commissioned Wintercroft – who has worked on projects and collaborations with Sir Paul McCartney, Björk and television show Game of Thrones in the past – to create Grue.

Supported by Yorkshire Coast BID, local arts charity ARCADE is producing the event and students from Scarborough Sixth Form are working to create the “wintery cardboard wonderland”.

“We are so excited to be working on this ambitious creative project with Scarborough based partners,” says ARCADE co-director Rach Drew.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for interested community members to get involved, use their creativity while learning from Steve, a world class artist. It’s also brilliant to have a winter themed offer which has sustainability at its heart. Grue will show what is possible with an old box, some tape and a bit of imagination!”

A number of community building sessions are still scheduled to take place. No experience is necessary to take part but the building workshops are not suitable for under-16s.

These take place today from 2pm to 6pm; on Saturday from 10am to noon, and 1pm to 4pm; on Sunday from 10am to noon, and 1pm to 4pm; and Thursday, December 2, from 2pm to 6pm.

Sally Gorham, chair of the Old Parcels Office, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with Arcade and Steven Wintercroft. The Old Parcels Office is an amazing space and this project really fulfills our aim of bringing high quality contemporary art to Scarborough and giving local artists and performers a platform to show their work.”

Entry to Grue is on a ‘pay what you can’ basis and each slot will take around 15 to 20 minutes, with the option to stay, have a drink and create a craft at the end. Groups of up to six will be admitted every five minutes. Booking is essential: visit www.hello-arcade.com/grue.