News: an Atelierista (Artist-in Residence) in Singapore!

I will be taking time out of freelance work in the UK, due to a new project role working as an Atelierista (Artist-in-Residence) at EtonHouse International Research Pre-School, 718 Mountbatten Road, Singapore.

The role will hopefully extend from my previous experiences developing atelier learning environments in both local children's centres/ schools and galleries in the north of England over the past 11 years. I will also be familiarising myself with both the Inquire.Think.Learn curriculum framework and PYP International Baccalaureate programme, while at the same time using the Reggio Emilia approach as the inspiration, particularly within the context of the role of the atelierista and the environment as third teacher.

I will be embedded within the school, collaborating with each classroom team to provide meaningful and intentional creative learning experiences both in the atelier and also throughout different shared spaces within the school grounds! Unfortunately, I won't be able to blog about much of my atelier experiences here, but I will hopefully be negotiating a way to make the atelier learning experiences 'visible' elsewhere on the EtonHouse website.

For now, though, the pictures above provide a peek into my new workspace!

Resident Artist at Ellergreen, Norris Green, Liverpool

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been lucky enough to work as resident artist with children at Ellergreen Nursery School in Norris Green, Liverpool, taking over the Activity Room to create mini-Atelier sessions with groups of children. The project responded to the theme of the 'garden area' within the nursery conservatory - a space which extends the indoor classroom to the outdoors (or vice versa). The project aimed to provide an insight into different materials, processes and working with an artist - for both staff and children, build confidence in verbal and non-verbal expressive languages, develop social skills and a bond between children working in smaller groups, while at the same time allowing the children to relax and have fun, outside of the typical classroom environment.

Each week, the project focused on different processes and themes as children explored a range of materials. Children's responses to different materials were observed and their interests informed the following sessions as they adapted to the new work space and way of working. Time was provided for children to adapt to new materials and it became clear that there was a core group of children who would request to turn up to the art studio each week with an expectation of what was to come. The session also extended to the outdoor play area which allowed children to interact with clay in a different way.  The project was well-timed before children finished the school term - some to prepare to move up to big school. Hopefully, they will take some of these small insights and experiences with them. 


Mini Art Club Vogue Party: it's a wrap!

I will be taking time out from developing and running Mini Art Club for a while, along with other workshops at Manchester Art Gallery so, in celebration of all the fun, fab sessions I have run over the past eight years, I created a Vogue-inspired fashion party to say 'bye for now'!

Vogue 100: A Century of Style is on show until October 30th in the top floor touring exhibitions space and is a dazzling array of glossy, colourful fashion portraits from the Condé Nast archive. In response to the exhibition we were inspired by the sugar pop colours within some of the prints, as well as the textures and backdrops within some of the images. 

As usual, participants were invited to view the exhibition, with the help of some pop-specs and brightly coloured post-it notes which were used to create trails, patterns and even wearable accessories! They then worked their way down to the immersive party-space installation in the studio, which encouraged sensory and heuristic exploration of objects and materials, movement, mark-making, dressing up, dancing and posing.

Mini Art Club, you will be missed!


Pop-Up Picture Playground at the Hepworth Wakefield

It was the last of the Creative Playground workshops today at the Hepworth Wakefield as The Rhubarb Triangle and Other Stories - a photography exhibition by Martin Parr also finished.

In our fab Pop-Up Picture Playground space, families were invited to consider ways to construct an image through collage, image composition and pop-up paper folding techniques. To compliment this more focused, small-scale work, participants could also playfully position themselves in the picture as they explored an intriguing array of objects and materials of mass consumption, to use as props and costumes to turn themselves into Parr-inspired characters in our pop-up photobooth. The space was set up to accommodate a number of curious interactions as children danced, dressed up, told stories, set up scenarios to act out, posed for photos, took photos, dressed their parents up, or simply lay on furry fabrics to relax. It was great to see everybody getting fully immersed and involved!

Look for more creative pop-up pictures on Instagram using the following hashtags:

#hepworthwakefield #thehepworth #creativeplayground #popuppictures #hepworthlearning #popupphotobooth




Mini Art Club... news!

Immersive Installation at Mini Art Club Manchester: inspired by Modern Japanese Design

I've just delivered the last of a series of Mini Art Club sessions that have taken inspiration from the gorgeous Modern Japanese Design exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Participants were invited to follow a trail up to the gallery and young children were drawn to colourful shapes and patterned household objects that were placed on to lightbox surfaces in the gallery, which helped them form connections with the fabrics, patterns and colours within the exhibition.

The immersive studio installation formed connections with the exhibition upstairs as well as the new Clore Art Studio developed by artists Sarah Marsh & Jess Wild, which responds to the fashion focus throughout the building. Inspired by the colours, textures, forms and fabrics upstairs, we created a large-scale sensory den space to crawl through, hide in, climb into and spin around in. Other intriguing objects and materials were also arranged in different corners of the room for children to discover and explore.

You can see the Mini Art Club photo album of the three sessions on MAG's flickr photostream. Also read volunteer Stephanie Mouillard's blogpost about Mini Art Club in Volunteer Voices on the MAG website.  Stephanie has also started her own wordpress blog here too! 

For July's Mini Art Club we'll be having a Mini Art Club party as it will be my last session in a while. After that I will be off and away to start some work in Singapore... watch this space!

Leftcoast: Catching Light at the Mount Pavilion

Colouring in a rainy day: close-up of a window installation by Michiko Fujii

I'll be returning to the Mount in Fleetwood this Saturday to lead another pop-up workshop for arts organisation Leftcoast

If you're in the area then come and help transfer this gem of a building into an installation of light and colour as we work on the windows as part of my Light Catcher workshop. Let's hope the sun stays out so we can make the most of the beautiful coastal luminosity!

Join us on Saturday 4th June from 1pm - 3.30pm in the Mount Pavilion along the Esplanade, Fleetwood.


Heart of Glass

This month I was invited to develop and lead a session for Heart of Glass which has been programmed by artist and creative producer Claire Weetman and funded by ACE's Creative People and Places. Heart of Glass is a programme of creative activities in St Helens, Merseyside, which takes place in public spaces and community venues across the town. Claire has invited artists to respond to the locality, based on their own practice and interests.

I initially met Claire in St Mary's Market, in the local shopping centre in St Helens, where Heart of Glass have set up a creative base below Platform Studios, who occupy the former market offices. We spent some time talking about the programme, walking through the markets and also popped into St Helen's World of Glass museum.

I was immediately struck by the huge market windows overlooking the glass museum and, following my interest in colour, light and transparency, I decided to develop a session that would encourage participants and passers-by to respond to the window space.

As part of the session for young people and also a fortnightly family art club, participants were invited to work with a range of materials to create artworks that could be added to the windows or taken away. The installation grew as I worked alongside artist/producer Jacqui, assistant and promoter Ant, and some very enthusiastic children and young people who took a roll of electrical tape for a walk along the windows. It was lovely to see the layers of colours and lines appearing on the glass over the the outside views. We had a range of colourful, semi-transparent images, abstract designs, 3D forms (including post boxes!), paths, lines and kaleidoscopic images produced. Such a lovely venue and great people to work with.

Check out their flickr feed here!  

Colour Compositions: Easter Matisse at Tate Liverpool

I've had the most colourful time at Tate Liverpool over the past few weeks as we turned the Clore Studio into an immersive world of colourful compostions, where art and activity began to creep and grow across the blank walls, floors and columns of the studio space.

Our starting point was The Snail by Henri Matisse (1953), Tate Liverpool's current work 'to know by heart'. On loan from the Centre Pompidou, The Snail is on display until May 2nd and is a key example of Matisse's cut-outs. It's worth going to see just to enjoy the scale and colour of the work and it is a significant piece to see up close as it's unlikely it will tour to another venue in our lifetime, due to its fragile nature.

Made at a time when Matisse was too ill to paint, the cut-outs were a new and exciting development as he used his scissors to cut out shapes directly from coloured sheets painted by his assistants. Some works were more abstract than others and The Snail at first looks that way but then it becomes clear that Matisse has composed his 'dancing' coloured shapes to form a distilled impression of the spiral shell. I asked many young visitors to look for the snail shape and there was much discussion about which way the shell turned and where the head could be found.

Participants then chose their own paper colour palettes and were challenged to cut shapes straight out of the paper to make their own colour cut compositions. These began to grow along the studio walls as we created a collective colour display and also a floor-based composition piece. There was also the chance to create transient colour projections and weave a colourful trail of coloured lines across the space through yarn bombing - which went down well with lots of children! The music, lights, shadows and colour also had a positive impact on participants who talked about how 'relaxing' and 'immersive' the space was.

There were so many avenues for development - we could have worked on it for another couple of weeks at least. If anything it was a great way of creating interweaving snail trails from a great piece of art.



For the Love of Books!


In the age of iPads, iPhones and a multitude of other digital screen-oriented devices, the humble story book may be taking more of a backseat in some homes. Once introduced, young children become highly proficient tablet users in no time, familiar with all the taps, apps and swipes. On one hand, we can marvel at the swift manner in which children learn to skilfully operate such devices. Indeed, when using the right kinds of applications the tablet can become both a powerful and useful learning tool. On the other hand, and more worryingly, children remain more and more receptive and passive to the screen, which in turn has an impact on productive communication and language development.


The good news is we still have books! Books are also powerful and enjoyable learning tools that can immerse us in a world of excitement, adventures, beauty and ugly monsters too. We are more likely to read books together and share and discuss our thoughts and impressions through speech and actions. So, in an attempt to re-ignite the passion for books, I have been working alongside project co-ordinator and artist Katy McCall from High Peak Community Arts. For the Love of Books is a lottery-funded project that encourages young children and adults to spend more time together reading and engaging with books. The project is currently focusing on working with families in hard-to-reach rural community settings around High Peak, Derbyshire, in nursery schools and children's centres. Taking inspiration from a chosen book, children, their parents, carers and teachers are encouraged to read and explore the story together through a range of creative activities that help to bring the story world to life.


Our chosen book Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant is an excellent book for visual literacy, encouraging parents and children to explore the theme of journeys, countries, cultures, food and languages together. Mouk the Bear leaves his Parisian home and friends in search of a highly colourful adventure which leaves children immersed as their eyes explore all the beautiful illustrations across the richly detailled pages.  In response, to the book, we set up a number of activities in each nursery setting such as mono-printing, drawing and mark-making, puppets and projections. exploring objects and music from different cultures and introducing words in different languages.


The project is continuing as more artists are invited to respond to different books and themes. A simple idea can lead to a unique insight into the interaction between young children, parents, staff and artists and their practice, as well as having the opportunity to engage with a range of enjoyable and beloved books. For more information on the project and the organisation click here. 

Creative Picture Playground: Pop-Up Posers

It's photoshoot time and we're drawing inspiration from the Parr-look, which is on-trend this season!

This week, I will be leading Creative Playground at the Hepworth Wakefield, sending budding young photographers, picture-makers and posers to see the Rhubarb Triangle and Other Stories: Photographs by Martin Parr  - a detailled exhibition of the work of Martin Parr through the decades from his black & white nostalgic scenes of rural, methodist communities in West Yorkshire to his glossy, colourful critiques of subjects such as leisure, tourism, money and work.

In the studio the set-up will be playful with the chance to make some humorous collaged, pop-up scenes. There will also be a range of colourful sensory props, objects and materials to transform ourselves into different pop-up playful characters.

Looking forward to striking a pose and keeping the #hepworthwakefield Instagram feed active this week! Also, check out my @filledelumiere Instagram page!

#creativeplayground #hepworthwakefield #hepworthlearning #popupposers #popuppictures #popupportraits #popupphotos #popupphotobooth