Luton artist awarded funding for LU4 Creative project

An artist from Luton has been awarded thousands of pounds for a project to help the town’s elderly residents reconnect with its hat heritage.

Alva Wilson, the milliner in residence at Wardown Museum, has been given over £20,000 by Arts Council England to develop the LU4 Creative project. Working with residents from sheltered houses in Luton, Alva will help participants create bespoke hats made from sustainable materials and ethical practices. The participants will then show their work at an interactive exhibition during London Hat Week in April.

Alva Wilson with the University's Arts & Culture Projects Manager Emma Payne

Alva Wilson with the University's Arts & Culture Projects Manager Emma Payne

Alva said: “I’m looking forward to working with the residents who will be producing hand felted murals and spectacular hats which all will be exhibited at Wardown Museum this summer.”

The 60-year-old is part of the Arts Elevator strand of the University of Bedfordshire’s TestBeds programme which aims to help Luton-based artists and artistic organisations to take their organisation to a new level of impact.

He added: “I am extremely grateful to the TestBeds team for all their help with my application for the funding. What I learnt on the Test Beds Arts Elevator course also helped to launch this project with regards to planning, marketing and budgeting.”

The project is in partnership with Luton Culture and supported by the Social Housing Participation Team at Luton Council and the University.

Executive Dean of Academic Partnerships Prof Helen Bailey said: “We are delighted that Alva has been awarded this funding that will allow him to get his fantastic project started.

“We look forward to seeing the amazing work that Alva and the participants in the project will undoubtedly produce.”