We Face Forward: Magic Materials - 'Mini Junk Palace'

It's been a long and colourful week working on our Junk Palace project at Manchester Art Gallery!

Drawing inspiration from We Face Forward artist Pascale Marthine Tayou's 'Poupées Pascales' - 16 unique dolls hidden all around the art gallery for this summer's 'We Face Forward'- we created two exciting studio spaces for participants to explore the world of found objects and materials in novel and interesting ways. I worked alongside visual artist Sarah Marsh and fashion designer Mary Ononokpono of Mononoko fashion to develop the concept for the workshop. We came up with some excellent ways of fashioning plastic bags, newspaper, old electronic parts and west african fabrics into chunky accessories, jewellery and other such wonderful forms!

I also tailored the session to create today's Mini Art Club - Mini Junk Palace for little ones aged 0-5 years, to explore a beautiful, colourful, tactile environment. A big thanks to artist & filmmaker Jess Wild for supporting today's session along with volunteers Liz and Sabeena. Also thank you to Jali Nyonkoling Kuyateh for playing the Kora and lending us one of his CDs to fill the Junk Palace with beautiful music!









Lost in Lace

One of my installation workshops next month will tackle the theme of loops, lines and lace, so I decided to take a train ride to Birmingham to catch the 'Lost in Lace' exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, before it finishes next Sunday 19th.  The range of interpretations to the theme of lace from the 20 contemporary artists featured in the exhibition is impressive, and the level of concept, skill, scale and attention to detail keeps the average visitor engrossed for much longer than anticipated.

Quite a few of the artworks respond specifically to the exhibition space within the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as threads, panels and lacy forms literally slice through space, forming new perspectives, delineations and boundaries for the visitor to walk around and peer through. Responses range from the microcosm of a thread of lace - 'Black Lace', a video-sound installation by Kathleen Rogers; to the dark, otherworldly installation 'After the Dream' by Chiharu Shiota, featuring a row of white dresses floating in an intricate, webbed confusion of hand-woven threads (complete with a surveillance camera's view which demonstrates how the space was painstakingly constructed).

The exhibition space itself is curated in such a way that the visitor can choose their own route around the exhibition, almost as if they too are weaving their own lacy path. There is much to see and walk around and plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, so it would be great if this could have actually been recorded and mapped out in some way!

To travel down by train across icy/snowy landscapes and find myself 'Lost in Lace' for nearly two hours was a great visual distraction and inspiration. My fingers were left twitching for needle, thread and paper to play with, pencils to scribble with and my head buzzing with ideas and possible responses. A trip to this exhibition is highly recommended and a pre-conceived idea of lace will be ripped apart and intricately re-threaded.