Flickr Upload: Turning Japanese!

After sorting through 1000-2000 photos, I've been busy editing and uploading some photos of a trip to Japan on my Flickr site . Click here to see my visual diary journeying through complimentary landscapes (urban, sea, lake and mountains). The pictures speak a thousand words....


And the winner is.....

Gathering of Strangers

.... the Whitworth!

Beating off some very stiff competition, the Whitworth has won the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2015 prize! After being shortlisted along with five other finalists: Dunham Massey, Altrincham; Imperial War Museum, London; The MAC, Belfast; Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Tower of London, director Maria Balshaw received the award at Tate Modern last night. 

Watch the presentation of the award here.

Listen to an interview with Maria Balshaw on BBC Radio 2 here

Well done the Whitworth! 


Flickr Upload: The Early Years Atelier at the Whitworth

A moment of focus amidst a buzz of activity in the Atelier.  Image courtesy of Karen Hewitt, 2015.

How many pictures do we take in a lifetime? Every Monday I take at least 20-50 images in the Early Years Atelier alone! You can see some of these images on the Whitworth's Flickr  photostream here.

The Early Years Atelier is a new concept in the Clore Learning Studio at the Whitworth. It runs every Monday from 10am-4pm and is a free, drop-in space for young children and their adults.

I have been developing and delivering the Atelier since the gallery opened this February 2015 and each week different materials and objects have been introduced as provocations for open-ended play, exploration of materials, expressive language development, conversations, role play, action, movement and positive interactions between young children and their adults.

At the time of writing we have had over 1500 visits to the Atelier - which is very exciting. I really hope that a wide range of people come to use the Early Years Atelier as a valuable resource and space which they can return to again and again. To get a sense of some of the ways participants have encountered the space, click here


The Big Wild Rumpus

I've been buzzing around the Whitworth today working in my Forest of Mischief installation, as part of the Big Wild Rumpus - a celebration of the classic book 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak. The Big Wild Rumpus commenced with a reading of the book by actor Maxine Peake, which officially launched the 'rumpus' as musicians created a riot of sound.

The Forest of Mischief was an immersive space with a window to different photographed forests. The installation was full of wild sounds, creatures, ever-growing vines and other objects of mischief (of one kind and another) that took over the Whitworth's magnificent Grand Hall. Elsewhere in the gallery, a giant squirrel danced and made music to gramophone records and visitors could get up close to a selection of Manchester Museum's real wild things.

The Whitworth Way

Since the Whitworth Art Gallery's re-opening on February 14th, I have been tasked with managing an ambitious and fun-packed Early Years learning programme. This has kept me very busy as I have tested out the new Welly Walks guide with families and school groups out in Whitworth Park, woken up as an early bird to simultaneously set-up and run busy, weekly Toddler Art Club sessions x 2 and also the new Early Years Atelier which runs all day every Monday. 

It's my last week of covering the role of Early Years Learning Coordinator and I'm excited to be switching to the position of the Whitworth's resident Atelierista or studio artist as I immerse myself in fully exploring the possibilities and developments of the weekly 'atelier' space . However, before I start this role, I will set up one last sensory, gallery installation designed especially for small babies and their parents (in the form of Brass Baby and Art Baby - Music Baby) as musician and vocalist Nancy Elizabeth creates a melodic soundscape with her mini harp. It has been an absolute treat to take over a different gallery space each week. It has also been extremely useful to talk to the many mums/dads who have told me what a godsend the weekly sessions are, as they provide the perfect excuse to leave the house, spend some quality time with their little one, socialise with other children and adults and experience stimulating gallery environments and artworks.

The photos above give a snapshot of the numerous activities on offer each week and demonstrate how lucky Manchester residents are to have such a variety of free cultural institutions and weekly / monthly activities for all ages from birth onwards.. 

Twist Bend Fold!

Here's the first installment of pictures from my latest adventures in paper sculpting at the Hepworth this week, as we took inspiration from American artist Lynda Benglis' dynamic pleated sculptures and forms.

Twist Bend Fold explores the art of the fold in the new Clore Learning Studio. It continues in May and June. Hope to see you there soon!

Thanks to Hilary, Leslie, Adele and Susie for all their hard work and enthusiasm helping out during busy workshops!


A SLiCE of Surrealism and Unconscious Creativity

As part of Curious Mind's SLiCE initiative, Tate Liverpool and the Royal Exchange Theatre have partnered with schools across Greater Manchester and Liverpool to offer training and an insight into using cultural venues as a way to develop creative, cross-curricular learning approaches.

In March, I developed and led two training events for Key Stage 2-4 teachers who wished to explore ways to use Tate collections & exhibitions and a variety of creative techniques and activities to promote discussion, creative writing, story-telling and performance.

In response to the current Surrealist Landscapes season at Tate Liverpool, my workshop set out to promote ways to connect creative practice with dreams and the unconscious. Participants were encouraged to do warm-up activities to explore unconscious mark-making, drawing and frottage. We also spent a good chunk of the day in the galleries finding alternative ways to discuss artworks from the Tate Collection using surrealist techniques to creatively respond to artworks. Surrealist games were played to inspire fruitful discussion and personal responses which went on to rouse emotions and promote creative writing and poetry.

Having visited the current Leonora Carrington and Cathy Wilkes exhibitions, teachers were invited to make creative connections between unconsciously selected objects and artworks to tell stories and poems, which culminated in creating installations and a storyworld set in which to develop frozen tableaux and performance. 

The project continues as I join the teachers in April - May to plan and develop a lesson which will take place in schools.... 



Walk the Line

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working with a curious, open-minded group of families and staff from Childwall Children's Centre as part of a short project at Tate Liverpool.

My chosen theme of 'walk the line' formed a thread for play, exploration, movement and materials across two weeks as we visited gallery spaces in Tate, worked in the studio and then visited the children's centre the following week, working experimentally both indoors and outdoors!

I designed the second session in response to observations of children's natural interests, movements and rhythms as they encountered artwork, spaces and materials. It was great to stand back a little to watch as both children and adults explored each carefully set up environment and became immersed in mark-making, printing into clay, dancing with ribbons, threading ropes and ribbons..

Am looking forward to seeing pictures and film clips from filmmaker Jake Ryan soon. 


I've been busy blogging elsewhere again....

I've had my head down and have been busy with work at two fab art galleries in Manchester!

See what I've been immersed in at the Whitworth Art Gallery in this culturebabies blog post HERE !

Also, read my write-up on how we plan Mini Art Club sessions at Manchester Art Gallery, in this Studio Sketchbook blog post HERE !



All Coloured Up

In celebration of the Channel Crossings: English and French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery , I chose a cool colour palette for paint and light in a specially created ' Journeys of Colour & Light' workshop. Despite the busy crowds, the studios were awash with visitors reporting the positive effects of spending time in the colourful galleries and studios.

From spending time REALLY looking at the artworks, collecting colours and writing down our feelings in connection to the scenes before us, to REALLY focusing on the details of pointillist splodges of colour combinations to make cool colour charts, before hanging out to bathe in colourful light in the dark room... there was something for everyone.

And in what seems to be my longest week of gallery work ever, I'm really glad I got to absorb some of the positive, colourful moods of the 600 or so people who passed through the door this week. 

Check out the Gallery's Facebook pics here