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




News: Work at The Whitworth

I've just started some freelance work covering the post of Early Years Coordinator at The Whitworth, Manchester. This is a very exciting time to be involved with the gallery as it prepares to re-open on February 14th with a grand opening weekend! A £15m development has transformed the gallery with a new extension at the back of the building, opening out onto Whitworth park. I will be busy leading, developing and delivering the new Early Years programme, which commences with Brass Baby on Saturday 14th from 10am-12pm. Brass Baby is an interactive musical experience led by Northern Brass for babies and their adults. I will soon be out and about sourcing an abundance of green materials to develop a large-scale green-themed floor installation, created especially for babies to explore. Here the senses will be appropriately awakened as we respond to the themes of awakenings and landscapes, inspired by new exhibitions and also the new 'Green' textile collection. 

For more information on the opening event on Saturday 14th, click here

Meeting Shelley Jayne and her pre-school group at Tate Liverpool

I was lucky enough to meet and work with Shelley Jayne, an illustrator and Early Years professional based in Liverpool. She brought her lovely pre-school group to visit Tate Liverpool and I had a lovely time exploring the DLA Piper Series: Constellations exhibition on the first floor and also working with them in the Clore Learning Centre studio. 

She wrote a great review of the session here. I hope they visit again soon! 

Perpetual Paper Play


Happy 2015! I entered the new year surrounded by piles of folded paper forms (again!) this week.


I've been busy testing out a new camera and the new spotlights in the recently refurbished learning studio at the Hepworth Wakefield over the festive break. I've really enjoyed capturing the amazing ideas and creations people have come up with in my 3D Structures workshop, in response to a large-scale, geometric foot by Toby Ziegler, commissioned as part of the Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture exhibition. The exhibition coincides with WWI commemorations and juxtaposes historical battle scenes with contemporary sculpture, considering themes of war (historical and contemporary), the inter-relation of humans and machines, digital technologies and 3D printing. 


I wanted to examine the nature of paper folding as a way to demonstrate geometrical constructions, creating repeat shapes, patterns, positives, negatives, and concrete or abstract 3D forms. Ziegler's sculpture was partly created through machine but finished by hand and it was this interplay I found interesting to question. In the case of the studio workshop, participants explored the art of folding, geometry, symmetry and reflection with various templates or tessellating prints which they could either completely ignore or use as starting points for geometric 3D forms. 


Some focused on the theme of war, creating paper sculpted dioramas of war machinery, escape tunnels and air-raid bunkers or strange war-like creatures. Others took a more positive approach and for many children (and adults), their folded forms began to represent mini architectural models for utopian playgrounds, perhaps inspired by the play area outside. In any case, I was blown away by the work created.


Start the new year as you mean to go on.


Studio Sketchbook

Since 2008 I've created, developed and led Mini Art Club: a space for families with young children to explore themes connected to artwork and exhibitions at Manchester Art Gallery. Each session incorporates an exploratory activity within a selected gallery space, followed by further creative activities in two specially designed installation spaces in the education studios. 

For the latest Mini Art Club installations see the pictures below. Over the past three months we have focused on a child-centred, family-friendly response to the current Sensory War exhibition. Keywords in planning, activities and session themes were: post-war construction, city features, architecture, maps, movement and journeys. 

You can also read my Studio Sketchbook blog post here. Also, for more pictures, check out my album on Manchester Art Gallery's Flickr site.

Tate Kids Guest Blogger

I've been busy guest-blogging for Tate Kids! Find out about a wonderful mix of young children exploring stories, books and art with artists at Tate Liverpool.

Post 1 introduces the project and Post 2 talks about what we got up to... have a peek.

Thanks to Jake Ryan for the fab photos.

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 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. 

A Beautiful Partnership

See some of the things we have been up to at Tate Liverpool over the past year or so in this insightful short film about the Early Years partnership at Tate Liverpool. To watch it, click on this link and press play to see more.