Artist’s Block: Sky Arts launches free creative workshops as new research reveals Brits aren’t getting in touch with their artistic sides

Thursday 24 August 2023

New research out today from Sky Arts reveals almost half of adults don’t have any art supplies at home, with one in five never having picked up a paintbrush other than to decorate.

The research was commissioned by Sky Arts to mark the release of its ‘Celebrating David Hockney’ films, which are edited and presented by Melvyn Bragg and provide an unrivalled exploration of the iconic artist’s life and work. To celebrate the launch, and encourage the nation to get creative, Sky Arts is hosting a series of free ‘Inspired by Hockney’ creative workshops which will take place across the UK in September.  Presenter Gemma Cairney attended the first workshop this week at Spitalfields City Farm where she practised her painting with local artist Jade Connolly.

Presenter Gemma Cairney says: “Having the opportunity to get creative is so important, both growing up and as adults too – we should have every opportunity to get immersed in the arts. The free Sky Arts Hockney-inspired workshops taking place around the country are such a positive way to get together and express yourself through paint. Similarly, the ‘Celebrating Hockney’ films, which are available to watch for free, offer an unparalleled chance to learn about one of our greatest living artists.”

An army of artists across the country are set to host workshops in a variety of spaces, from a print studio in Bradford to the seafront in Hastings. All free to attend, the classes will also take place in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Plymouth and will be suitable for all artistic abilities, with each artist helping participants take inspiration from the colourful world of Hockney himself. Attendees will find their creative side through a variety of mediums, from screen printing and collages to drawing and painting. Creatives participating include Ben Holden, Lizzie King, Jade Connolly (pictured), Michelle Taube, Natalie Chapman, Molly Hankinson, Anthony Garrett and Wendy Smith.

The survey of 2,000 adults revealed just over half like the idea of art as a pastime, but 63 per cent have never given it serious consideration as a hobby. Of those who haven’t embraced art as a hobby, 69 per cent didn’t think they had the talent for it and almost one in five worried their work wouldn’t meet their own expectations. Half of all respondents also said they’d be nervous of what people would say about their creations, were they to give it a try.

Six in ten of those asked felt it would be daunting to create something arty, with 28 per cent considering their skillset to be distinctly average, while 31 per cent give themselves a self-deprecating ‘very poor’ rating.

Phil Edgar Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: “Our research shows there are lots of budding artists out there just waiting to give it a go, but not everyone has access to the supplies required and it can be difficult sometimes to take the leap and try something new. Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people, and our brand new films celebrating David Hockney will give everyone the chance to get up close to one of the greatest artists of our time. So if you’re inspired by his work, put your artistic skills to the test for free and join us at one of our workshops up and down the country. You might discover a hobby that could captivate you for years to come.”To mark the launch of ‘Celebrating David Hockney’, Sky Arts is hosting free creative classes across the UK in a bid to make art more accessible for everyone.

The research also revealed:

  • A third are put off from giving creative hobbies a go themselves because of the cost 
  • Almost one in five didn’t think there were enough places in their local area to help explore their artistic side and as a result they’d like to see more craft stores, art galleries and cultural centres 
  • A third would be encouraged to pick up a paintbrush if they had someone to teach them

Artists in the making can book a space at a free workshop by visiting

‘Celebrating David Hockney’ airs on Monday 28th August and Tuesday 29th August at 9pm on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW.

Notes to Editors:

Artist bios:

Benjamin Holden is a multidisciplinary visual artist and printmaker from Bradford, his work uses a bold and bright range of colour palettes and his workshop will incorporate his riso printer.

Wendy Smith is an artist based in Hastings who specialises in landscapes, especially where land, sea or river meet which will be the focus of her workshop in Hastings.

Natalie Chapman creates portraits that engage with family identity and social documentary and will be running workshops in Cardiff.

Michelle Taube lives in Manchester and is interested in colour and observational painting and drawing. Her latest work on flowers and plants will be a key part of her workshop.

Jade Connolly is an artist from Blackburn, currently living in London, her work deals with the dynamics of interior space and her painting workshop will experiment with colour.

Anthony Garratt is a painter and installations artist based in Devon, his recent public participation artworks have encouraged hundreds of people to engage with the practice of painting. His workshops will take place in Plymouth and on Dartmoor.

Molly Hankinson is a visual artist, painter and illustrator based in Glasgow incorporating the aesthetics of bright and considered colour placement in her work.

Lizzie King is a hackney based multidisciplinary artist who specialises in vibrant and energetic illustrations. Her London workshop will transform the staple t-shirt.