Building A Bridge of Books

I'm currently immersed in a new project at Tate Liverpool, working hard to bring the world of children's stories and Tate Collection artworks alive! As part of the Liverpool City of Readers initiative, I'm working with artist-educator Denise Wright, filmmaker Jake Ryan and groups of young children and their adults to create narratives and stories, inspired by children's books, artworks, gallery spaces and materials in the studio. For my first session, I installed a makeshift story den in the Clore Learning Studio which became our base for story-telling and making. This initiated the beginnings of our adventures to discover a 'strange land' in the galleries as children encountered artworks, installations, puppets, props and provocations to create narratives based on their experiences. Back in the studio, children explored materials which they could use to create costumes or make models and props for their story.

The project will culminate in an exhibition and celebration day in the Clore Learning Centre in November. Check out my guest blog post on the Tate Kids website.


Mnemis: dogma da visibilidade silenciosa - an exhibition by Margarida Holler & Marlene Stamm

Yesterday evening I attended the opening of "Mnemis: dogma da visibilidade silenciosa" or "Mnemis: dogma of silent visibility" - an exhibition by Brazilian artists Margarida Holler and Marlene Stamm, at Espaço T, Quase Galeria, Porto, Portugal. Espaço T is a space that aims to promote social inclusion using art as a way to engage and integrate people within Porto society and beyond. As the organisation's mission statement suggests, people are often forced to fit into boxes in society and wear masks as a way to conform and hide their way of being. Espaço T sets out to break this cycle reflecting a vision of a 'real' world where people can reveal this invisible inner self. The building houses an atelier space, an artist-inspired loja da felicidade or 'shop of happiness', tranquil garden and comfy living room space and library, alongside a gallery space for exhibitions.

São Paulo-based artist Margarida Holler's sensitively creates an inner space as she responds to the interiors of Espaço T's Quase Galeria, creating a suspension of a translucent veil-like material, which forms an enclosure within which one can enter. The intention of this enclosed space remains open to each viewer or participant who activates the space either by seeking refuge or protection from the outer world. However, the space also offers a fuzzy, distorted viewpoint outside as the viewer can peer out and see the world anew. Here, one could imagine a suspension of time too, although the structure of the installation also encourages people to look up at a suspended cellular or embryo-like object attached to an umbilical cord, which seemingly reaches to the sky - perhaps like the germination of a dream. Here, the constant electric, lamp-lit shadows contrast the passage of time as the skylight reveals the movement of natural light as day fades to night.   

Margarida's work continues in the main gallery space as a vibrant inner body space takes over the centre of the room in an elaborate, tightly wound-up mass of 'corporal' matter with an inner nucleus, composed of hidden text - perhaps taken from lines of poetry which can be found written in Portuguese in the exhibition catalogue. 

The intricate work of fellow São Paulo artist Marlene Stamm encompasses the space as a continuous row of watercoloured burnt out matches line the walls as if to form a continuous suspension of time. Here we imagine brief, split units of time as a match strikes and a silent yet underrated energy is released, disperses and fades to form a memory. Underneath, a handwritten, mantra-like text captures the steady yet constant count and splitting of time: "quarenta e dois segundes e um décimo.. " Moving closer to the wall, delicate, hyper-real drawings of electrical wires wind their way in and out of the room's plug sockets as if to energise the space further with a constant hum or vibration, something perhaps which the unobservant viewer may overlook - blink and you'll miss it! Both Holler and Stamm playfully reveal a silent, invisible alter-reality which oozes with an energetic vibrancy - the silence screams with visual poetry.  

The exhibition is open from 27 September - 14 October. 

My Colourful Pop-Up World

It's the last few days of My Colourful Pop-Up World at Tate Liverpool! We've been responding to the Mondrian and his Studios exhibition as we explore abstraction, colour and geometry in both 2D and 3D. 

Piet Mondrian was one of the first artists to experiment with abstraction when he moved from Holland to Paris in 1911, then London and New York. In each city he moved to he had a studio, which served as a kind of 3D realisation of his gridded, geometric canvases. Mondrian was inspired by architecture and the increasingly built-up landscapes that surrounded his city centre studios.

Taking this theme of abstraction in the real world, participants have been creating gridded viewfinders which can be overlaid onto the windows of Tate Liverpool's Art Dock studio to colour and re-frame the landscape.  Participants are also leaving their colourful strips to be added to an evolving installation in the Family Room. Furthermore, they can experiment with paper manipulation and the art of pop-up as their cuts and folds turn into geometric sculptures and architectural-like models.  Watch this (square!) space for more photos of the Family Room in progress...


But does it float?

As part of the first two weeks of the Mondrian Mohamedi summer workshops at Tate Liverpool, I have focused on the exquisite work of Indian abstract artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Lesser known in the UK, Mohamedi's work incorporates a number of mediums such as drawing, painting and photography through a journey from semi-abstract landscapes to painstakingly abstract, geometric pen and ink drawings. Nasreen Mohamedi was inspired by Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and seascapes encountered during her travels and these can be seen within beautiful examples of her black and white photographs. 

But does it float? was a series of workshops during the first part of August which encouraged children and participants of all ages to explore experimental, 'random' mark-making vs. careful, controlled, measured lines using different printing, frottage and drawing processes. Inspired by abstract art, architecture, binary patterns, geometry, and the local, Merseyside landscapes, participants worked into thin strips of card to create floating, 3D, architectural sculptures in black and white. 

Watch this space for my next blog post to see how we move from monochrome into an exploration of grids, primary colours, pop-ups and the world of Mondrian and his Studios.


It's reflection time! Here are some pictures from my July and August sessions in the Clore Art Studio. They show some crafty ways we've been working with small geometric-shaped mirrors in addition to the coloured paper shapes and plinths in the Clore!

Paper Trails

I've had a busy week running Artigami at The Hepworth Wakefield: a workshop inspired by Barbara Hepworth's curved, hollow forms and strings, The session is dedicated to constructing and deconstructing the possibilities of paper.


We've bean tearing, twisting, folding, punching, pleating, scrunching.... and I have to say I've been blown away by some of the work I've seen. We've had lots of positive comments too, so hopefully we got the balance right between structured activity and free-style paper play!


Artigami will run again on September 13th-14th (11am - 4pm) and I'll also be working on creating a new paper workshop which will run at The Hepworth Wakefield in October.


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 Clore Learning Centre 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!