Hale based children’s arts club Parsley Pie is celebrating 15 years in business. The brainchild of professional artist, Jenny Bent, the club offers art classes, workshops and parties for children from the ages of 12 months-18 years. The success of the business has seen two new Parsley Pie clubs open in Stockport and Whitefield.
Parsley Pie has always been about more than just teaching young artists how to paint a masterpiece; it is about encouraging freedom of expression, celebrating diversity and allowing children to get messy.
“I found art college un-creative and un-imaginative. So when I launched Parsley Pie, I knew it was going to be different,” said Jenny. “Too many children these days don’t have time just to sit down with their thoughts. School and after-school activities are very regimented, allowing little room for young people to learn about themselves. Since day one, the ethos at Parsley Pie has been about giving children the space and the time to be spontaneous explore who they are, how they feel about things and just to make a mess.”
Parsley Pie is run from Jenny’s professional art studio in Hale. “Just by looking at my studio you can tell it’s a well used creative space. There are layers and layers of paint, clay and glue on every single surface that has built up over years. It’s definitely not a sterile “paint a pot’ place. Classes are small, usually around ten kids per group, which means I can focus on them as individuals rather than as one big group.” She explains.
After studying art at South Trafford College, Jenny juggled a career as an artist and a professional dancer. She set up Parsley Pie 2001 and has inspired thousands of children from across the North West, many of which return year after year. A passionate vegan and animal lover, Jenny is the mother of 4-year-old boy, Theron, and a strong advocator of helping young people develop a strong sense of self-esteem and self-belief from a very early age.
“I believe Parsley Pie is more than art classes; it encourages children to make their own decisions, and be confident in their decisions. Which can start with something as simple as what they want to do: paint, a canvas or a t-shirt, or do clay modeling, decoupage, a mosaic or use modrock. We have an expansive supply of art materials to choose from. But it’s not just the finished piece that’s important; it’s the journey. The whole creative process and mixing with other children of different ages and backgrounds is all part of Parsley Pie. From a personal experience I know that young people need to be happy in their own skin and be able to move forward in life in a positive healthy way.”
To commemorate the 15th anniversary, Jenny is holding an art exhibition in Hale Library 3rd
– 23rd May 2016, showcasing pieces of artwork from her students. Over the summer months there will be special workshops where children will get to paint their own part of a huge 15th birthday canvas, plus eat tasty Parsley Pie branded cupcakes.
“In many schools art is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to giving – time, focus & funding. It can’t be graded like you can grade maths or music, so it’s a bit redundant in the minds and priorities of a lot of people. My workshops give kids the chance to make a mess that many parents don’t want in their homes or they haven’t got the time or space for. The kids get space to do things in their way in their own time. There’s no pressure and no curriculum. They work on their own personal projects and are responsible for the materials they use. There are no rules, apart from being polite and considerate at all times.”
Jenny views her role as more a mentor than an art teacher: “I’m here to help the kids to give guidance, inspiration, encourage independent thinking and building initiative, if that’s what they want. They have time to ponder, to problem solve and work things out for themselves which gives a great sense of satisfaction and achievement it and can instill a good strong sense of self.”
Whenever possible, Jenny takes the vast art supplies outdoors so the children can get fresh air, take inspiration from nature and also feed and play with her goats Pepper & Teddy.
“I’m really proud of my achievements and enjoying working as a business consultant for the other Parsley Pie owners. Who knows where Parsley Pie will be in another 15 years,” she smiles.