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

 

 

 

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.