019/365: dancing with ink

The shadow of my significant other moving to the music and moving projection in the Bridging Realms - Ink Mountain exhibition at Singapore Art Week, The Esplanade. To see the image in colour, click here.

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.


FYI: Ateliê Fidalga

Here's a link to an excellent Brazilian artists' organisation and atelier I had the fortune to visit with artist Margarida Holler, when I travelled to São Paulo, Brazil a few years ago.  The atelier is run by artists Sandra Cinto and Albano Afonso. http://ateliefidalga.com.br/

Press on the thumbnails to discover more about each artist!


Just So Festival 2012: Away with the Fairies, The Tent of Surprise

After a long and lovely weekend working at the Just So festival at Rode Hall Parkland Cheshire, I've finally found some time to load up a few pictures.

Hidden in enchanted woodland, 'Away with the Fairies', my Tent of Surprise revealed a paper forest (literally!) growing inside the tent. With baskets filled with surprises to rummage through, families were able to explore objects through all the senses. Torches revealed paper-cut shadows and bugs (both imaginary and real!), pots of perfumes or potions conjured up responses, emotions and memories, children listened out for noises and the feely basket was full of surprises - including a real frog that had accidentally landed in there and gone to sleep! Perhaps it was the fairy queen who had been out casting spells...






Mini Art Club: in the heart of the city

This month's 'We Face Forward' Mini Art Club session responded to the artist Piniang's semi-abstract collaged paintings 'Flood in the Suburb 1 and 2' and 'Power Cut in the Suburb'. Piniang (real name Ibrahima Niang) is a multi-media artist who works with a fusion of materials. HIs paintings depict the architecture of Dakar and somehow capture the chaos of an overcrowded city after a flood or power cut. Here, Piniang is concerned with population growth and urban development out of control.

Families visited the exhibition virtually in the dark, accompanied by the frenetic beat of the drum played by Danny Henry. We then headed down to the studio to mark-make and explore various recycled materials, focusing on the colour palette in Piniang's work. We later constructed (and knocked down) a fragile cardboard city, and danced to the beat of a chaotic city, led by the amazingly versatile Danny.

What a fast, colourful, frenzied and fun morning!







Mini Art Club is 50!

We've just had our 50th Mini Art Club... and what a morning!

As part of the 'We Face Forward' summer programme, we responded to artist Nnenna Okore's work 'Where Heaven Meets the Earth', concentrating on the theme of decay and transformation. Materials to be explored and transformed were a variety of recycled papers, different consistencies and types of clay, as well as natural materials such as hessian, twine, vegetables and spices!

Okore is particularly concerned with re-using and transforming materials, working into them using a variety of techniques to test the limits of each material as it deconstructs, falls apart, decays, fades, changes colour, etc. We attempted to explore this laying out a wet clay and natural dye room with paper and also a dark, shadowy paper room. To complement and extend this further, dancer, percussionist and musician Danny Henry interpreted key words (such as rip, stamp, fold) through a series of beats, rhythms and movement - much to the delight of everyone involved! It was really insightful to work with such a diverse and experimental performer who instinctively understood the ethos of Mini Art Club.

Such a great way to celebrate our 50th session!

N.B. Lo-fi mini vid clips hopefully coming up soon!









Just So Festival - Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire - 17th-19th August 2012 (save the date!)


Time flies... and I'm starting to gather my ideas and materials to fill a tent full of magical surprises at the Just So Festival this August!

The Just So Festival is a quirky, creative, boutique festival aimed at children, young people and their families. Originally based in Shropshire, it has moved this year to Rode Hall Parkland in Cheshire for a weekend of camping and creativity in the woods. It will be a treat to spend some time doing my creative thing outdoors surrounded by trees, natural light and sunbeams (fingers crossed!)

Just So aims to be more than just a family festival - featuring some of the best UK arts activity. There'll be lots of story-telling, dancing, visual arts, lights, magic and mayhem in the woods!

I will be hiding in a tent 'Away with the Fairies' (I'm already there), creating a world of papery delights - the rest is a secret, so I will keep 'schtum' for now....

For more information about the festival visit the site at: http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/

For a plan of the festival site, please view the map and click on the different areas: http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/2012-programme-2/

I'm very, very excited!



'What is Home?' Installation at the Avents Factory

Here are some lovely pictures taken of an installation space produced with young people from Crewe YMCA at the Avents Factory, Axis Centre, MMU Crewe last Saturday. Our installation responded to the question 'What is Home?' and took plenty of hard work to fill a large drama studio space at the Axis Centre.

The project aimed to invite people to participate in a workshop led by Crewe YMCA, asking participants to think about different aspects of 'home' and what it means to them.

Groups of up to 20 participants entered the workshop space and after the last workshop, we had just under two hours to turn the space into an installation complete with a film of the day by Mark Haig. The installation featured a 'shadow wall' entrance into our space, a comfy living room area complete with sound recordings, smells and people's memories, a 'dream couch' area filled with origami, a candle-lit washing line with life tips and advice, a large painting of people's ideas about where they see their future home, and a life-size shelter in which people had answered the question 'what is home?'

Despite the long days and sleepless nights thinking about what I needed to do and waking up early to write lists, I really enjoyed working on the project. I think we really managed to pull the installation together through good ideas and team work, even though we had very little time to get things done!

Here's a big, homely thank you to the young people, Chad Healey and Rachel Miller at Crewe YMCA for all their great ideas and hard work. Thanks also to Mark Haig for creating the film and making and manning a Punch & Judy set last minute! Also thanks to the technicians for helping us sort out the space and finally many thanks to Paul Hine for inviting me to be part of his Avents Factory.






Shadows on the Run at The Bridgewater Hall

Urban Symphonies is a project led by Manchester Camerata at the Bridgewater Hall. Over the current season, Manchester Camerata worked with children and young people from across Greater Manchester to create an Urban Symphony inspired by the city's architecture. Different musicians and visual artists were asked to lead projects with local community groups, to create individual responses to the city's architecture.  The fifth and final movement used The Bridgewater Hall as its starting point, as each group was asked to respond to a different space within the Hall.

Working with a group of young people from Positive Moves, Irlam & Cadishead Youth Project and artist-teacher Jocelyn Arschavir, we created their response to the Undercroft – a dark and mysterious space hidden deep below the Bridgewater Hall auditorium.

Upon visiting the Undercroft, the group immediately noticed the contrast between this space and other parts of the building. The Undercroft provoked sensory and imaginary responses as the young people observed the contrast in light, sound, texture, temperature, surfaces and interiors to that of spaces upstairs. Thoughts of other worlds, science fiction, films, computer games and ghost stories were discussed and it was this rich imaginary response from the young people that we wanted to develop.

An Undercroft-inspired installation space was created back at the centre in Irlam, where the young people composed, performed and recorded their story. The aim was to playfully reveal a glimpse of imaginary stories and secrets from the hidden Undercroft space downstairs, as mischievous shadowy forms creep upstairs to capture the attention of visitors.

Photos were later printed onto acetate and exhibited in windows at the Bridgewater Hall. A silent movie created by the young people, called 'The Escapees', was also screened at the Hall as part of  a series of tours of the Final Movement 5 of Urban Symphonies.


Chester Performs, Roam the Rows Festival: Postcards from the Edge

This project aimed to encourage participants and festival visitors of all ages to explore, document and record Chester in different ways. It provided the opportunity to try out new ways of defining place - making images, drawings and developing narratives which were then turned into a series of postcard images.

I worked with two groups, a mixed class of Y3 & 4 pupils at Tushingham with Grindley Primary School in Shropshire, and also a youth group based at Save the Family in North Wales. Interestingly, my project plan was submitted before I knew who I was going to work with as the idea was for different groups to choose the project they most liked the sound of. This is different to how I would normally work as I believe it is useful to plan a project in collaboration with a particular group of participants.

I was hoping to work with a group who were based near Chester as I had been given the brief of responding to the city centre and its surroundings. I hadn't expected to work with groups who were positioned in more isolated, rural areas and this, perhaps, changed the dynamic of the project, particularly as my aims had been to work with participants to explore their city and its people, buildings, sights, sounds, textures, stories, etc. The emphasis of the project was to document with cameras, drawings, mark-making, charcoal rubbings, sound recorders to capture words and sounds. However, time to explore surroundings was limited, and cameras were also in short supply. Despite this, I feel that participants from both groups responded well to the task and captured some interesting snapshots of their surroundings, in order to

Time was spent with both groups, photographing the outdoor areas surrounding each group base and themes were co-developed as focal points for pointing and shooting. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to organise transport for the youth group from Save the Family to visit Chester one morning. It was here that I met a rather excited group of people, ready to hit the streets.

Their first task was to find some people to interview and photograph. Then to collect images which related to a particular theme such as 'close-up', 'people', 'in the crowd', 'words and signs', 'window displays', 'buildings', etc. You can see a sample of these images taken (see above). Unfortunately, the multitude of great shots taken couldn't be uploaded onto this blog!

The pupils from Tushingham-with-Grindley primary school spent time documenting their outdoor areas, taking photos and tracing textures on different surfaces using graphite and o represent where they lived to their exchange partners in France. Initially, they worked on their own and then, as larger pieces of lining paper were placed on their tables, they began to explore different ways of designing images with a partner or in a slightly larger group. They began to create their own imaginary maps of their town (or ideal town). The images were later photographed and the children also wanted to be photographed holding their work outside.

The final part of the second day was spent creating models of a particular building or place which could be put together to create a model town out of recycled cardboard boxes. The imagination really did get to work here, as the children created a zoo and a shark-infested football player's swimming pool (out of a Kleenex tissue box), a toxic waste disposal centre, 'Harry's Hotel' and a carefully considered bungalow, to name but a few!

Finally all the work was captured on camera and selected to create postcard images which somehow recorded these different responses and explorations. The postcards were pegged to washing lines along the rows on Watergate Street and lining paper, blank postcards and different drawing tools were provided for visitors to add their own ideas, drawings, messages to the ever-evolving installation.