Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • The Journey Room

The Journey Room

As part of a longer-term Early Years partnership project in Greater Manchester, I worked in two children's centres as an artist and 'Creative Collaborator' with children, staff and parents to develop creative spaces for learning. Here, the children were becoming more and more curious to explore the world outside and beyond the walls of their centre.

We were lucky to be given a room which we transformed into a 'journey room'. Here children had space to reflect on experiences they had documented using their own cameras and this effectively became a giant documentation space. The space became like a studio / installation space, filled with different materials and objects which helped them to revisit their experiences outside and also go on imaginative journeys.

Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • The Midas Touch, St Helens

The Midas Touch, St Helens

The ‘Midas Touch’ was a pilot project developed to run for four weeks in St. Helens, Merseyside. It was inspired by the ReMida project, a creative recycling centre linked to the Reggio Emilia approach in northern Italy.

The aim was to use such recycled, ‘ordinary’ materials and objects in a way that was open-ended and child-led. As opposed to the practice of ‘junk modelling’, the intention was to introduce materials and objects as tools of play, work and learning. The Midas Touch programme intended to uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary – to provoke a sense of curiosity, awe and wonder in the everyday lives of children and their carers. 

The project took place in a former clothes boutique located in St. Helens town centre. The team worked closely with local businesses and organisations to source reusable and reclaimed materials. Support was also provided by National Museums Liverpool to ensure the venue was well-equipped and fit for use as a workshop space. 

 

Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • Shades of Black and White

Shades of Black and White

At the Midas Touch we concentrated on working with different materials (plastics, wood, metal, black and white) which we revisited and built upon each week.

The children engaged with these materials in ways which were sometimes predictable and other times completely unexpected and wildly imaginative. From simply tipping, sorting, collecting and arranging to using real tools, creating musical instruments and using objects in different spaces as complex props for role-play and fantasy scenarios, the children took the adults on a learning journey and provided a valuable insight into their world of play.

Art and Well-being

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

Festival Art

  • Colour Pop: Culture Shots

Colour Pop: Culture Shots

Working with Culture Shots volunteer Louisa Hammond, I set up a temporary, interactive window installation which invited people to play with coloured acetate on the windows in the main entrance of the Royal Children's Hospital Manchester.

This installation and activity was part of the Culture Shots festival. The festival aims to encourage partnerships between Manchester-based cultural organisations and local hospitals to promote art, health and well-being. 

 

Art and Well-being

Creative Spaces

  • Colourful Shades

Colourful Shades

Afternoon sun stretches 'Colour Pop' shadows as they creep further along the main hall of the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital!

The idea behind Colour Pop was simply to use the huge hospital windows as a natural light box, upon which to place coloured transparencies. As the sun began to move around the building in the afternoon, the most amazing colourful glow began to stream through into the waiting area, bathing visitors and patients in colourful light and projections.

Creative Spaces

Art and young people

  • The Avents Factory: Plans & Spaces

The Avents Factory: Plans & Spaces

The first stages in planning to build an installation with young people from Crewe YMCA: part of an arts and performance festival at the Axis Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe. 

Here, young people were invited to participate in the event and create different elements of an installation in a large drama studio space at the Axis Centre. The purpose of the installation was to invite participants to question and consider 'what is home?'

Art and young people

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

  • Home Is....

Home Is....

To build an installation with a group of young people from Crewe YMCA, we first responded to the question 'what is home?', considering Abraham Maslow's 'hierarchy of needs' as a starting point. We identified the concept of 'shelter' as one of the most basic human needs. 

The group was challenged to make their own shelter in which to further raise the question to visitors in the space. Here, luggage tags are left by visitors inside the makeshift shelter, responding to the prompt 'Home is...'

 

 

Art and young people

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

  • A Home and Its Inhabitants

A Home and Its Inhabitants

As part of their installation entitled 'What is Home?', at the Axis Centre, MMU Crewe, the young people wanted to capture the outlines of all visitors who passed through their installation - like the many inhabitants who pass through the hallways of a house throughout the generations.

Art and young people

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

  • Receiving Good Advice

Receiving Good Advice

Working with a group of young people to turn a large drama theatre space into an installation entitled 'What is Home?', different areas were created to reflect upon this question. In a candle-lit corner, the group leader invited people to leave words of good advice. Here words of wisdom suspend and multiply in a candle-lit space.

Art and young people

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

  • Watching the Film

Watching the Film

The Living Room: What is Home? 

The Avents Factory, a one day arts festival for young people took place at the Axis Centre, Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy, Crewe. During the day, groups of up to 20 participants entered this installation space to leave their trace, reflect on key questions, act out their own domestic scenes and leave memories of home, inspired by scents and sound recordings. As part of a live performance event, we had just under two hours to turn the space into an installation complete with a film of the day by Mark Haig.

  

Art and young people

Festival Art

  • Postcards from the Edge

Postcards from the Edge

Young people from Save the Family, North Wales and children from Tushingham with Grindley Primary School, Shropshire, participated in workshops exploring different ways to create postcard images. To do this they went on photographic explorations of their local environment and also designed postcard images through drawing, text and frottage.

The postcards were then displayed as part of a large washing line installation which weaved its way around the rows on Watergate Street, Chester as part of the Chester Performs street festival.

 

Creative Spaces

Festival Art

Family Learning

  • Roam the Rows

Roam the Rows

As part of a take-over installation entitled 'Postcards from the Edge', I worked with different groups based on the outskirts of Chester to create postcards which were suspended along the old shopping 'Rows' in the centre of the city. To add to the ever-growing installation, festival goers had space to leave their own thoughts, marks, designs and drawings along Watergate Street. 

Family Learning

Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • Far, Far Away

Far, Far Away

As part of Manchester Art Gallery's 'Pre-Raphaelite Experiment', I worked with artists Sarah Marsh and Katy McCall to create an immersive installation of tent 'worlds' in the top floor exhibition space of the gallery. My tent considered the environment of the Pre-Raphaelite world and here I created a multi-sensory experience in a paper-cut forest. Birdsong recorded during a recent trip to forests in Poland could be heard hiding in the trees, among a growing army of paper leaves. 

Festival Art

Installation Art

  • Just So festival: The Tent of Surprise

Just So festival: The Tent of Surprise

In continuation of a previous installation I had developed at Manchester Art Gallery, I was invited to develop a 'Tent of Surprise' at the Just So festival, Cheshire. Hidden in enchanted woodland in the ‘away with the fairies’ area, my tent revealed a mysterious, shadowy forest (literally!) growing inside the tent.

Festival Art

Creative Spaces

  • Paper Trees

Paper Trees

In my Tent of Surprise installation at the Just So festival, visitors were able to explore and discover a feast of sensory surprises. Those who were brave enough to enter discovered a shadowy forest full of smells, noises and textures – including a real frog that had accidentally landed in there and gone to sleep! Perhaps it was the adjacent fairy queen who had been out casting spells…

Early Years

Family Learning

Creative Spaces

  • Great Escapes

Great Escapes

Great Escapes was a monthly interactive session based in the British Art Between the Wars exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Working mainly with family visitors, we worked to create temporary artworks on the gallery floor using papers, scissors and stones. Visitors were invited to create imaginative, creative landscapes taking inspiration from abstract and surrealist paintings and sculptures in the exhibition.

Early Years

Creative Spaces

Family Learning

  • Musical Dimensions

Musical Dimensions

At Manchester Art Gallery, I have been running a monthly Mini Art Club session for families with young children since 2008. Mini Art Club encourages participants to encounter artworks in different gallery spaces, in a way that is both accessible and playful. As part of the session, multi-sensory interventions are set up on the gallery floor to provide 'ways in' for both adults and children to experience artworks that they may not usually look at or understand. 

Here, I set up colourful shapes, materials, objects and prompts, ready to be explored and played with in response to American artist Kelley Walker's 'Dreams Without Frontiers'. Walker's exhibition made connections between himself as an artist and the Manchester music and transatlantic pop culture that moved him to create his artworks. 

Creative Spaces

Early Years

Family Learning

Installation Art

  • The Record Factory

The Record Factory

As part of my monthly Mini Art Club session for families at Manchester Art Gallery, I create colourful studio-based environments and installations which respond to different artworks and exhibitions in the gallery. Participants always start by encountering and exploring artworks in the gallery to see the starting point of an idea or process.

Here, in my studio-based environment, I responded as a Manchester artist to the 'Dreams Without Frontiers' exhibition of American artist Kelley Walker. In his exhibition, Walker makes connections to the trans-Atlantic music and pop culture that influenced his work as an artist. 

In my response, I made connections to the aesthetics within Walker's work and that of Manchester music culture (such as the design and artwork of Fac 51).Music from this era was also played as families with young children made colourful, neon prints and marks using records, CDs and album-cover shaped paper, 

Creative Spaces

Installation Art

Family Learning

Early Years

  • Back to the Womb

Back to the Womb

I like to create immersive, sensory environments which literally take over a space and influence the way people feel and behave upon entering. Here, I transformed a studio space into an all-encompassing womb room, paying homage to Brazilian artists Ernesto Neto and Lygia Pape. This space could be entered by famiiles with young children to explore through the senses. The sound of a slow heartbeat could be heard thudding in the background and families could smell different fragrances and experience coloured light, textures, liquids and red ice.

This session was part of the learning programme's response to the Do It! exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist. In this evolving, travelling exhibition, international artists leave instructions for other artists, curators and the public to respond to.

Family Learning

Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • Waterworld

Waterworld

Part of my practice explores the way young children interact and play with different materials and tools in different thought-provoking environments. Here, a large area of paper is laid out across a studio floor, inviting young children to experience changing states of liquid and paint as fans blow in the background. The session was designed in response to JMW Turner's 'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board', inviting children to explore a multi-sensory water world.  

Family Learning

Early Years

Creative Spaces

  • Lost at Sea: Winter

Lost at Sea: Winter

Artworks are positioned to create an installation in the window of the Art Dock Studio at Tate Liverpool, Albert Docks. I developed and ran this session as part of a four-week families summer programme in response to the Turner Monet Twombly exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Each week explored a different seasonal theme and here we consider the idea of being lost at sea in winter, exploring colour, watery mark-making, text, poetry and paper sculpture.

Family Learning

Creative Spaces

  • Sculptural Marks

Sculptural Marks

A studio wall is vibrantly painted at Tate Liverpool. Here, workshop participants worked collectively to explore colour and action painting through words and instructions. They were also invited to create sculptural lines of colour as part of a workshop I developed and ran with artist Sarah Marsh. Our summer programme responded to the Turner Monet Twombly exhibition at Tate Liverpool. 

Creative Spaces

Art and young people

Festival Art

Installation Art

  • Urban Symphonies: The Escapees

Urban Symphonies: The Escapees

Here we see a still taken from a performance and silent movie created by young people at Irlam-Cadishead Youth Centre as part of the Urban Symphonies project at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. I worked with the young people and artist-teacher, Jocelyn Arschavir, to develop a creative performance space in the youth centre, following a visit to the Bridgewater Hall. The space provoked the idea for a story called 'The Escapees', developed and acted out by the young people. It was later shown at a celebration event at the Bridgewater Hall.

 

Family Learning

Creative Spaces

  • Paper Sculptures: The Hepworth Wakefield

Paper Sculptures: The Hepworth Wakefield

A photo taken from outside my paper construction workshop ‘Arti-gami’ at The Hepworth Wakefield. Here I developed a new workshop space to encourage visitors to play with paper and experiment with paper sculpting techniques, drawing inspiration from Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures.

The Hepworth learning studio windows and spaces form an inspiring backdrop to exhibit the paper creations.

Creative Spaces

Early Years

Installation Art

  • The Clore Art Studio, Manchester Art Gallery

The Clore Art Studio, Manchester Art Gallery

The Clore Art Studio is a new artist-run, interactive space in Manchester Art Gallery which provides opportunities for free play and participant-led creative activity.

Working with artists Sarah Marsh and Katy McCall, I designed and developed this space in response to the recent Grayson Perry exhibition 'The Vanity of Small Differences'.

Pulling key themes such as the continuous line, colour, pattern, objects and sorting we aimed to interpret and make visual connections to Grayson Perry's tapestries, creating a space where children could encounter different domestic objects and materials in a deconstructed household interior. Visitors were able to fully interact within the installation and could construct, weave, draw, make dens and create their own meanings and imaginary responses within the space.