Tate: Mondrian Mohamedi Online Resource

I've just created a fun online resource for children and families to use together as a way to understand and interpret the abstract artworks of Piet Mondrian and Nasreen Mohamedi. The Mondrian / Mohamedi exhibition is on at Tate Liverpool until the 5th October. 

The activity pack is now available from the Tate website. To view and download a copy, click here

Reflective Forms

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I've been following a bit of an abstracted, reflective theme over the past couple of months!

Here's a link to some Mini Art Club mirror-like fun at Manchester Art Gallery

Read about what we got up to here!

Abstraction Construction Reflection at Tate Liverpool

As the Mondrian and his Studios exhibition opens alongside artworks by Indian abstract artist Nasreen Mohamedi at Tate Liverpool, the theme of Abstraction into the Real World is explored throughout the building with a soon-to-be-opened interior viewing space created by architect Claude Parent.

In response to this focus on abstraction and architecture, I have created a colourful, tactile, constructive space, which brings together aesthetic and conceptual elements of Mondrian, Mohamedi and Parent in an interactive installation in the Art Dock Family Room at Tate Liverpool. Working with Learning Curators Katy McCall and Debbie Goldsmith, we have developed a space which invites visitors of all ages to play with colour, line and shape composition, exploring 2D, 3D, time and space. 

The installation invites playful, geometric construction and composition with beautiful *hand-painted blocks of different sizes and forms. It also encourages exploration of light, shadow and reflection as coloured windows and mirrors reveal slightly alternative, distorted worlds of light, shape, movement and time. Families can enter a space which attempts to embody the ethos of Mondrian's studio and his neo-plastic world. Here, though, participants can playfully engage with the physical act of placing, sorting, constructing / de-constructing and imagining.

The space is in progress and may evolve throughout the next four months, so come and play!

Find out what's on for families at Tate Liverpool this summer. Come along and join me for a playful, hands-on summer of abstraction and architecture in my two workshops But does it float? and My Colourful Pop-Up World in the Art Dock Studio. 

*Thanks to Jim Medway for his help painting the blocks so artfully!

Off the Grid & Loop the Loop

I've just come out of the dark after running Baby Art Club with musician Najia Bagi today at Manchester Art Gallery. Our session took inspiration from a highly abstract, geometric artwork Rotterdam Relief by Toby Paterson.

As in all art club sessions, I invited babies and adults to come up to the gallery first, to see our starting point for ideas. We headed up to the Sculptural Forms exhibition and spent time looking and exploring straight and loopy lines through massage, movement and soft materials!

Then it was down for our linear inspired installation in the dark, with a bit of an urban, disco-twist! Artist Toby Paterson's work is inspired by cityscapes, architecture, uncluttered lines and moving from 2D to 3D. We wanted to reflect this through our choice of materials to explore touch, light, sound and music in a shiny, enclosed installation space!

Feedback showed that adults enjoyed the activity upstairs in the gallery as it gave them the confidence to find 'a way in' to understanding abstract artworks. They were also impressed by the range of objects, materials and spaces to explore within the installation as their babies focused on lights, textured lines, rustling materials, tingling triangles and all things shiny and noisy!  

Nature in the City

Here's the final episode of spending time developing 'nature spaces' in darkened cupboard-like rooms listening to recordings of birds twittering away in forests! 

Yesterday evening's Thursday Late: Nature in the City at Manchester Art Gallery was a celebration of all the hard work carried out on the Thomas Horsfall Project with two schools (see previous blog posts) to create an interpretation guide and film for the Art for All: Thomas Horsfall's Gift to Manchester exhibition. It was also the chance for visitors to participate in art activities inspired by nature and also find out more about the exhibition and gallery roof garden!

I was tucked away in a (usually hidden) room right within the main entrance of the gallery. I created an immersive Plant Space, which encouraged people to try out drawing challenges and dispel the myth that 'they couldn't draw'. The specially created environment transformed a rather corporate-looking meeting room into an intimate, comfortable nature-inspired space! I wanted to encourage people to spend time looking and observing details within plants and natural objects under spotlights, while relaxing to a soothing forest soundtrack in a cosy, atmospheric space. 

Thanks to Emma Carroll, Joanne Davies & Meg Parnell for all their support on the projects!

A Study of Nature and Beauty

At last, the children's work is up - as a mini exhibition in their school!

Using Andrew MacCallum's painting Oak Trees in Sherwood Forest (1877), as a starting point for key themes and inspiration, I spent four days working with two reception classes at Norris Bank Primary School. The project was organised by Manchester Art Gallery as part of a wider project responding to the current Art for All: Thomas Horsfall's Gift to Manchester exhibition. 

Working with both classes, we explored lines, shapes, silhouettes and details of plants and leaves and turned these into drawings and paper cuts which were brought together to make the 'forest come alive' in a storage cupboard in the school! We also created some beautiful mixed media artworks to explore colour, light, transparency, textures and mini worlds. 

The project explored a number of contrasts:

bringing the outdoors in vs. extending the classroom outdoors

light & dark

light, air, sky (above) vs. texture, surfaces, ground (below)

man-made vs. natural materials

Artist Patricia Mountford also worked with Year One pupils to explore and classify materials to make sculptures, responding to the artwork The Carline Thistle as part of a study of Surrey Wild Flowers by Elizabeth Redgrave.

I now just have one more space I need to convert into a 'forest' tomorrow for Manchester Art Gallery's Thursday Lates, Nature in the City

Spotlight on Nature

Here's a taster of work produced this week and last with 2 reception classes at Norris Bank Primary School, Heaton Norris - in preparation for a school art exhibition next week with Manchester Art Gallery. I've been working to create an indoor 'forest' hidden in a school store cupboard and will install an outdoor installation of children's work. Let's hope the sun stays out!

I've had lots of fun and the children have been absolutely ace to work with, as usual. 

 

...more to come soon... [:^D

Another Dimension

I've just had a fun afternoon in the new Clore Art Studio at Manchester Art Gallery. How time flies! Our installation has been taken down and the space has been re-developed by artist Sarah Bridgland. Sarah exhibited two beautiful artworks in the First Cut exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery in 2012. She has since developed ideas to create a space where people can engage and interact with her process and practice. The work also makes connections to influences within the new neighbouring Sculptural Forms exhibition.

As part of the new installation, plinths of modulated heights are arranged in a grid formation. In the centre of the grid, a table with compartments of different coloured, paper shapes can be taken out by visitors and endlessly placed and composed upon the plinths.

Studio Saturdays invites different artists such as myself to pop in and create an intervention which relates to our own interests and practice. My intervention (pictured above) is mirrored shapes and cameras and I'm particularly interested in how this can alter the way people arrange their compositions and also document them, as the mirror opens up a new world of reflections, symmetry and oppositions. The mirror also provides further opportunities for the imagination as younger visitors place it in their composition as a portal to a mirror-image world. In this world, things may seem alike, although appearances can be deceptive! 

Studio Sketchbook

I've been guest-blogging elsewhere too! Click here for my post on Manchester Art Gallery's Studio Sketchbook blog. 

A Space for Curiosity and Free Play

After a long period of planning, research, studio time, workshops, material sourcing, installation, documentation, delivery and reflection (phew!), I am uploading my experience of working on the new Clore Art Studio at Manchester Art Gallery. Working in collaboration with fellow artists (and partners in crime) Sarah Marsh, Katy McCall and Family Learning Manager Alex Thorp, we created and produced the Clore Art Studio, a playful, interactive space which took initial inspiration from Grayson Perry's current exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences. For more information about the exhibition click here. The process behind Grayson Perry's work can also be viewed in his Channel 4 documentary In the Best Possible Taste (still available online on 4OD). 

Our brief was not to develop a direct interpretation or response to Grayson Perry's tapestries. Nor was it about creating a learning experience that attempted to 'educate others' and explain the concepts, processes and ideas behind Grayson Perry's work. It was more significant for us to respond as individual artists, distilling visual or aesthetic elements of Perry's work which related to our own practice and interests.

In addition, the intention was to create a space that would provide opportunities for free play, open-ended interaction, conversation and inter-generational activity, whilst at the same time making connections to Grayson Perry's exhibition in the neighbouring gallery . 

To develop this space, Sarah and I initially tested out our creative ideas and activities on a class of 5-6 year olds from St Augustine's Primary School, Monsall, Manchester. Workshops took place over one week, allowing us to develop themes, processes and a wish list of materials, resources and structures. Sarah was interested in 'lines' and I focused on the interplay of objects, colour and sorting. These themes were all pulled out as conceptual strands from Grayson Perry's tapestries, during our initial planning meetings.

As the week of research progressed, we began to understand the ways children could totally pull apart, deconstruct and re-figure a theme or idea! With this in mind, we needed to create a space that could provide endless opportunities for interaction with a number of robust, appealing objects and materials within an equally engaging, unbreakable installation framework. At this point, Katy came on board to lend her wisdom to the positioning and installation of tables, storage, furniture and objects. 

The end result was a deconstructed version of Perry's world of furniture and colourful, domestic objects in a vibrant, quirky installation. In his work, Perry suggests that different household objects and interiors are indicators of a particular class taste and identity, but what happens when children are placed into such a space? At what age does a child begin to demonstrate a sense of taste and a preference for one item over another?  And why? Would children even place such meanings and values over a particular object or would their response be completely 'innocent' and untainted in relation to adult-oriented notions of class taste and identity? 

In the Clore, a storage unit fashioned out of reclaimed deep, blue crates displayed an arrangement of enticing, colourful, domestic, pound shop items, textiles and ribbons laid out ready for play. White, deconstructed furniture provided a framework for play and interaction within the space. Opposite, a drawing table was laden with silverware and looping lines of words, which encouraged people to look at and choose objects to draw in a continuous line. Meanwhile, key words were positioned around the space, prompting action: wrap, stack, sort, shadows, line, patterns, twist, weave, hide, same, different, etc. Meanwhile, on the side walls, photographs of children from St Augustines were displayed, facing old TV monitors with films of children playing within the studio space.

To follow-up on the installation of the space, we were invited to facilitate artist-led interventions within the studio during the weekends, while a team of volunteers were trained to maintain and run the space throughout the week. The studio became a lively, popular place for visitors of all ages and many observations were kept of the variety of weird and wonderful interactions and happenings witnessed over the four months! All in all, it was a rather, wacky, ambitious and fun project to be involved with, once the inital stress of rushed installation deadlines was out of the way!! 

For more information, see Manchester Art Gallery's Studio Sketchbook blog. Click here for a write-up by Alex Thorp and also click here for my Top 10 observations working in the Clore!