This section contains Rowan’s past news stories.

Stories from 2016:

Portrait: New print works from Rowan

Michael house Centre, Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1SU

Monday 25 January until Saturday 6 February 2016


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This exhibition presents a series of new prints produced by our students in our recently set up print room that was funded by Cambridgshire Community Foundation.  Portrait: New print works from Rowan profiled the extraordinary works of art that Rowan’s learning-disabled students have been creating using a variety of techniques that include monoprint, intaglio and relief printing.

The exhibition includes portraits and self-portraits, where students have gone beyond mere representation to create powerful and striking images that incorporate the uniqueness and essence of the individual.  It celebrates the power of art to develop confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing. Rowan’s student’s benefit from the transformative power of the visual arts and this can be life-changing.

This exhibition will be re-presented at Addenbrookes Treatment Centre (ATC) gallery from 13 June – 1 August.

During this exhibition, Rowan launched its fundraising appeal. For over 30 years, Rowan has been striving to improve the lives of learning-disabled people, using the arts as an effective way to enhance lives and providing opportunities for self-expression. We are developing a programme of activity to include music, drama and movement. This will add great benefits for our students, offering them a wider choice of activities and support their creative and personal development.

To do this we need to reconfigure our facilities creating more functional spaces with better access throughout the building. Our existing facilities need upgrading and refurbishing. This will expand opportunities for learning-disabled people and provide for people with more severe disabilities.

Part of our development plan includes making a section of our Humberstone Road premises available to the community. These will include meeting rooms, an exhibition area, kitchenette and disabled toilet facilities with a hoist lift and changing table. The new spaces will be available for hire to other community, arts and wellbeing groups, creating opportunities for the whole community.

Rowan is asking for donations and support to fund a music programme and the redevelopment of its facilities on Humberstone Road. If you can help please contact Bridget Cusack or on 01223 566027.



Stories from 2015:

Winter Warmer at Rowan

Wednesday 2 December 2015, 5pm until 8pm

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Come and join us for our annual Winter Warmer event at Rowan. Visit our gallery and studios, join in with a free, seasonally themed craft activity and buy beautiful gifts while listening to music and enjoying the light refreshments on offer. The gallery will become an Arctic aurora borealis installation full of mountains, trees and swirling colourful lights and it’s a great opportunity to look round our studios and see the work we do with learning-disabled people.

Music for the evening will come from jazz trio – Fromage a Trois, and Turtle Dove – a local social enterprise.


Stuff of Life Charity Exhibition

Saturday 14 –  Sunday 15 November 2015 10.30am – 4pm
Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge, CB22 5BP

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This weekend, Stapleford Granary will host an extraordinary exhibition organised by White House Arts. This free event offers the opportunity to purchase a unique artwork for just £45. All funds raised from this exhibition are shared between two charities, and Rowan is one of them.

During the last few months, over 250 amateur and professional artists have been creating new works on canvases, each measuring 12 x 16 inches. The artworks are displayed anonymously so you will never know who has created it.

Rowan will put the funds toward the redevelopment of Rowan’s facilities, creating additional art spaces for learning-disabled people to take part in music and drama. Practical Action will use the funds for a training programme for small businesses, supporting indigenous Andean communities of Peru and Bolivia to develop their rich heritage of textile weaving.


Support Rowan’s Plans for the Future

Rowan is launching a new campaign to create Cambridge’s first space for music for learning-disabled people. Next year, we will convert existing office spaces at the front of our Humberstone Road premises into a new music and drama room, a meeting room, kitchenette and upgraded disabled toilet facilities with a hoist lift for people with more complex disabilities.

As part of the re-development, Rowan will be upgrading our existing facilities to include remodeled art studios and better student social spaces. This will enable us to expand opportunities for learning-disabled people, increase our student numbers and provide for people with more severe disabilities.

The new spaces will be available for community hire to other community, arts and wellbeing groups, creating opportunities for the whole community.

More details of ways to support this campaign will be available soon. Visit our Donate now page to donate today!


Community Facilities Consultation

We’re looking to the future at Rowan and hope to redevelop the front of our building next summer to create extra facilities for our students. We are currently considering letting Rowan studios outside our student hours to other community groups, clubs and organisations to support Rowan’s future sustainability. We’d be grateful if you could complete our online survey about local facilities so we can see if there’s a local need for this. Click here to complete a short survey on local facilities.


Art makes you Powerful

During Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas Rowan presented Art makes you Powerful an exhibition highlighting the transforming power of the visual art. This exhibition, created by learning-disabled people at Rowan, explored how art has the power to develop confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.

During this exhibition Rowan launched a new film. Made by students from the Film and Television course at Cambridge Regional College’s Red Chair Productions, this film aims to provide an insight into Rowan’s work and promote the value of the arts. You can now see the film here:

£740 Raised at Chesterton Festival!

This year we raised £740 at Chesterton festival doing a star prize raffle and tombola. Our success was due to fundraising volunteer William Oakman. We nominated William for the Lil Speed Award for everything he does for the local community and he won. See our blog page for more details!


Rowan’s Summer Open Studios

11am – 6pm, Sat 11 and Sun 12 July 2015

Open studios 2015
We had a great time at our summer Open Studios and selling event with record sales of artwork! Rowan was transformed into a charming village fayre and we had the reinstallation of From the Ground Up, Rowan’s Chelsea Fringe ceramic artwork.


From the Ground Up

Saturday 16 May – Thursday 18 June
Jesus Green Lock, Cambridge


From the Ground Up is a site-specific installation of ceramic flowers located on the island at Jesus Lock. Part of Chelsea Fringe, this artwork is Rowan’s contribution to this alternative garden festival which celebrates community growing initiatives, outdoor performance, botanical art, walks, talks and events across the country.

Each flower has been individually crafted in our studios at Rowan by students, staff and volunteers. Together, they create a meadow of coloured, textured bobbing flowers catching the breeze that create a waving pattern reflective of the water surrounding the island and evocative of gardens and meadows. The flowers motifs are inspired by a variety of natural forms including alliums, tall ornamental colourful globes that resemble fireworks frozen in mid-air. Students have been inspired by Austrian artist and architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000) and British printmaker Angie Lewin.

From the Ground Up will grow throughout the duration of Chelsea Fringe as students create and add more to the installation. The completed flowers will be on sale during Cambridge Open Studios from 11 to 12 July at Rowan on Humberstone Road.

Jesus Lock is on the River Cam, located in the north of Jesus Green next to Chesterton Road. Built in 1836, the lock incorporates the barge shaped island over which Jesus Lock footbridge runs, linking Chesterton Road with Jesus Green.

Rowan is very grateful for the generous support from AJN Steelstock Ltd, Kentford near Newmarket.

Look out for over events and projects including a floating garden created by one of our artist tutors, Amy Spencer. Students helped Amy create the floating garden titled Floatopia that is set next to From the Ground Up on the river Cam. Rock Road Library has created a new ‘friendly’ garden; you can take part in Feeding Times at the Bathtub Pond; Missing Words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, Tripping the Light Plantastic- Dancing the Flowers, The Magic Beanstalk Bike, Admitting the Possibilities of Error meditative drawings, and From The Ground Up’s ceramic flower installation. For more information about all these events please click here. 


Print Exhibition: Rowan Press

26 March – 2 April, 12pm – 4pm

Rowan Press

Rowan Press is the first exhibition of prints made by students in Rowan’s new print studio recently established using a grant from the D and J Lloyd Community First Foundation and The Seymour Fund through Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

Students have been using a variety of print techniques including drypoint, relief and monoprints – to create a wide variety of artwork from realistic depictions to abstract forms. Shape, colour and texture have been explored and experimented with to create varied and striking works of art. Through Rowan’s supportive environment, students have had the opportunity to learn new skills, raising abilities and confidence. Rowan Press marks the beginning of what is an exciting addition to Rowan’s portfolio.

Printmaking is the fifth studio at Rowan complimenting woodwork, textiles, mixed-media and ceramics. The new studio means that Rowan now has more student places available for learning-disabled adults.


Stories from 2014

2014 celebrating 30 Years in 30 Ways!

Rowan’s celebrated its 30th Birthday in 2014 in 30 Ways.

1. Over 30 Student self portraits
Students making self portraits and exhibiting them at Rowan and at Addenbrookes Hospital. These have now been turned into a book of self-portraits.

2. Team Rowan decorates 30 cakes
Every Birthday party needs cake. Our students were sponsored for a week of activities that started with decorating 30 cakes.

3. Team Rowan walking or pushing over 30 miles!
Our students took on the challenge of walking 30 miles between them along the River Cam but walked nearly 90 miles between them!

4. Carnival costumes
Not only did our students cover the miles they made some fancy dress to do the miles in!

5. 30th Anniversary art work
See below for details of our 30th anniversary art work and how you can support it.

6. Craft and Cake for Rowan
Tea, cake and craft events were run by a number of our supporters, raising vital funds for the charity.

30 ways of celebrating on Twitter by following us or searching #30yr30


Anniversary Tree Sculpture Unveiled

At our winter warmer event our 30th Anniversary tree sculpture was unveiled with 2014 Mayor Gerri Bird switching on the lights adorning it’s branches. The tree is made from wood off cuts from our studio so you might spot a half made cat, finger labyrinth or even TARDIS and is decorated with work made by the students. There’s still space to have your name engraved on our tree sculpture for a donation as the tree will continue to grow after the event! For more information click here.



Support our 30th Anniversary art work

For a donation, your name can be added to the tree:

£10 for a small carving30 years graphic

£30 for a medium carving

£50 to sponsor a branch

Download a leaflet with more information here, or contact us for more information.


Gift Vouchers Launched!

Rowan has launched ‘Commission Your Own Art Work’ Gift Vouchers, the perfect present for anyone you know who is hard to buy for! From smaller wooden and ceramic items to bird boxes, planters and house signs if you’re lucky enough to receive a voucher the choice is yours. The vouchers come in amounts of £12, £20, £35 or £50 and are available online here.

Gift vouchers


30th Anniversary Book

As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations, our students, who are at the heart of everything we do, expressed their involvement in Rowan by creating self-portraits. These have been collated into a book by one of our tutors, Lima. The book is valuable to view at Rowan and to buy. Small copies are £40 and large copies are £70.


CSR’s 30 Miles in 30 Ways Challenge!

On Friday 21st November local company CSR took on the 30 Miles in 30 Ways challenge to raise money for Rowan. Staff members from CSR completed one mile laps of Cambridge Science Park in 30 different ways including three legged, carrying heavy objects and space-hoppering! Rowan student representatives cheered them on and awarded the CSR stars with ceramic star badges. Our very own Marketing Manager Judith Jones also completed 30 miles on her bike as part of the challenge day.

A big thank you to everyone at CSR for raising over £3500 for Rowan!

To support the CSR team and donate to Rowan click here.


30 Years in 30 Ways launched with well over 30 Miles!

For our 30th Anniversary we’re celebrating in 30 different ways this autumn. The week commencing 8th September started with decorating 30 cakes followed by our students’ sponsored walk Tuesday-Thursday. To celebrate our birthday everyone was in fancy dress with a celebration theme. A big thank you to Mayor Gerri Bird who lent her support at the starting line on Wednesday and completed the first part of the 30 miles with our students.

Rowan student Andrew said “I love it at Rowan. I’m going to try and walk really far to raise lots of money.”

Des Trollip, Director of Operations at Rowan said “Our students have done a sponsored walk in the past but this year we’re doing a week of celebratory events with cake decorating and creating a tree sculpture. Over the coming months we’ll be sharing more ideas of ways to celebrate our 30th anniversary, which we hope lots of people will be able to support.”

We’re pleased to report that we smashed our 30 mile target almost 3 times over covering nearly 90 miles! Check back for more information on how much our students have raised when we total up money collected at the end of the month.

The 30 ways will be completed with an anniversary sculpture unveiled at Rowan’s open studio winter warmer event 5pm-8pm on 3rd December. Rowan will be inviting members of the public to take part in 30th activities in the coming months and invites any ideas for the 30 ways to celebrate.30 Miles for Rowan


Open Studios

Cambridge Open Studios on 12-13 July was a great success we had over 150 visitors and sold over £1400 worth of art work! Thank you to everyone who came along.


We have a New Minibus!

After three years of fundraising, our students have a minibus again; thanks to the support of many people within Cambridge’s local and business community.

Through the generosity of White House Arts in Chesterton, technology company CSR on the Science Park, and Cambridge’s Marshall Aerospace we now, at last, have our minibus. The students, learning-disabled adults, have made their own contribution, undertaking sponsored walks and selling their art work to help raise the funds.

Rowan’s previous minibus had to be scrapped three years ago, depriving students of the transport that allows them the freedom to explore outside places and activities. The students have been raising funds for a replacement ever since. Having a minibus again means that Rowan’s students can easily visit new places, take part in community activities and benefit from the cultural heritage of Cambridge.

Rowan student Steve said “Having a minibus is great. It’s been worth all the hard work.”

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert, helped Rowan’s students to celebrate the success of this fundraising initiative by performing an official un-veiling ceremony on Tuesday, 15th April.  He said,

“I am delighted Rowan’s students have their own minibus once again. This is a fantastic achievement. They have shown sheer determination with their fund-raising over the last three years and it’s good to see their efforts supported by local businesses. 

“This bus will open up new opportunities for these students and I hope they will enjoy the freedom it will bring for many years to come.” 

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Rowan Creates Musical Sculptures for Wimpole Hall


Rowan worked with National Trust property Wimpole Hall to create giant musical instruments for half term week. Students were commissioned to work with the Garden team at Wimpole and produced a rustic xylophone for children visiting the garden to play on. You can still find it now on the walk between the house and farm!