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!

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.

 

 

My Space!

 

Here's a lovely video of Myspace, a workshop I developed with Manchester Art Gallery's formal learning team last year, which brought together young people from Mottram Academy and The Fallibroome Academy to explore the House Proud exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. You can read more about the Myspace project here.

 

 

Changing Rooms

Changing Rooms Installation, Mini Art Club, Manchester Art Gallery

This month's Mini Art Club interactive installation at Manchester Art Gallery questioned the use of space and the choices we make when we fill 'interiors' with collected, domestic objects. Responding to Matthew Darbyshire: An Exhibition for Modern Living, I wanted to develop an interior that would be somehow familiar yet fun, magical and slightly askew at the same time.  A blank canvas white interior provided the backdrop for moving through, with and around objects in space; sensory exploration and colourful, decorative mark-making. I framed the session title around the nineties - noughties BBC programme Changing Rooms which marked the beginning of an era of DIY, aspirational, 'luxury' interior design. Objects in the installation were also chosen to reference some of the spherical, circular forms and household/collectors' items found in Darbyshire's installations.

Participants moved through a number of spaces as part of the session, visiting the top-floor exhibition in the gallery, then down a level to the interactive Clore Art Studio and then finally down to the ground floor to explore and alter the specially created installation space downstairs.

Next month's session will be similar with a few extra fun surprises! Many thanks to Ted, Jess, Sarah and Stephanie for all their help and support.

Expressions of Emotion

Yesterday I went to the opening of Expressions of Emotion: an exhibition of work produced by young people from Liverpool CAMHS at Tate Liverpool. Young people from across the Liverpool CAMHS network worked with different artists over the course of a six week summer project to explore different artistic processes, focussing on mental health through different themes such as indoors/outdoors, emotions, objects, light and colour, working with different artists each week.

I worked with the young people to explore abstract, expressive mark-making, taking inspiration from the Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots exhibition. We translated 'expressive action marks' into experimental light drawings, movement, projections and photography. You can see an image that documents this above, along with some other images of the different ways the group worked with other artists each week. It was lovely to be a part of the project and meet an inspiring group of young people. I am now rather thoughtful about how I translate ideas and my own interests and art practice to engage and co-create with others in different environments.

Toddlers' Choice: Whitworth Collections Centre Exhibition

This summer I worked with families with young children in the Whitworth Atelier to find out what their preferences were to viewing artworks taken from the Whitworth's art collection. Having drawn up a longlist with EY Learning Coordinator Lucy Turner and curators Amy George and Frances Pritchard, sample images of wallpapers and textiles were presented on a wall in the atelier over a number of weeks, for participants to choose their favourites. Weekly activity in the atelier also corresponded with an identified visual theme for each group of images (such as linear, geometric patterns; monochrome patterns and silhouettes; fruit and floral patterns; lines, weaving and movement).

The artworks selected by participants are now on display in the Toddlers' Choice exhibition in the Whitworth's Collections Centre. It's really great as some lovely examples of the children's artworks made in the atelier this summer can be viewed alongside collection artworks in the exhibition. You can also view a short film about the process made by filmmaker Jess Wild from Wild Bees. Today we officially opened our exhibition with an Art Party (preview) in the 'atelier of tastes'.

To take a closer look at the toddlers' choices ,  you can access images, as catalogued by the Whitworth curators. You can also follow my new Diary of an Atelierista blog on tumblr for more information, under the username the-scribble-kid. Finally, here's a glimpse of the exhibition below.


Therapeutic Thursday: SeaEscapes

Where do we go to escape the madness of the world, in order to feel calm and relaxed? Bed? On holiday? The seaside? Somewhere dark, small and cosy? An art gallery? Well, I think perhaps I ended up combining all of these ideas in the 'SeaEscapes' immersive installation at Manchester Art Gallery this Thursday evening.

Open during a Thursday Late, Therapeutic Thursday was an evening of talks, mindful marks, music and art activity designed to promote positive mental health in a beautiful, inspiring building filled with art.  As part of this thoughtful programme, I developed SeaEscapes, with the help of top troupers Ted and Brian, and also the enthusiasm and support of Louise Thompson, Health & Wellbeing Manager at MAG. I was approached by Louise to develop an installation for adults to relax in and wash away the tensions and stresses of a busy day, taking inspiration from the current Channel Crossings: English and French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism exhibition. 

As luck would have it, I had also recently travelled across France (from South East to North West) on a break away, and had the perfect opportunity to collect sea treasures along the shoreline of Dunkirk before crossing the channel back home. Another day outing to the never-ending Southport beach completed my coastal bounty as I headed home with a trove of ornate shells and salty-scented seaweed to add to the installation. This particular assignment involved many hours combing beaches and relaxing in late summer sunlight to the sound of seagulls and delicious sea breezes!

SeaEscapes was based on the monthly Mini Art Club I run at Manchester Art Gallery for families with young children. Sometimes the session incorporates a darkened, immersive space filled with light projections, sounds and objects which notably relaxes many who participate in this space. Louise thought that it would be great to re-create this space for adults and this is something that really interests me as I question the way different subtle interventions within space alter moods, behaviours and interactions. 

The softly-lit installation room contained light boxes, an OHP casting sea-themed silhouettes, and a calming video projection of beach scenes complete with a breeze and sound of the waves. People were invited to simply sit, relax and unwind or use mark-making tools and watery brusho inks to observe and draw the minutiae details of seaside objects placed under or on light sources, for inspiration. 

I was really pleased with the general response of participants who entered the space. Many took time to walk around, sit down, close their eyes, listen & look before adventurously sketching, drawing and inking impressions of the sea. Here are some of their responses to the space: 

'Loved the gentleness of the seascape room, painting & drawing with shadows and brushos. So relaxing after a busy day. Perfect environment.'

Tonight in 3 words: 'calm, serene, relaxing' 'unusual, creative, liberating'

I feel... 'I was at the sea for real.'

The installation was used by young children and adults the following morning as part of Mini Art Club, which also resulted in an extremely chilled session (with participants who are usually tearing around full of energy).

This definitely has to be the most relaxing, outdoor-focused brief I have responded to in a while, which can only be a hugely positive thing.

 

 

 

Drawing with Light: Tate Liverpool and CAMHS

As part of my practice, I create immersive environments that incorporate different sensory materials, objects, darkened spaces, a range of light sources and music or sound. I am particularly interested in the ways such spaces can provoke different behaviours: building confidence,  heightening a positive, relaxed mood and sense of fun, wonder and well-being.

As part of a series of workshops with young people from the Liverpool CAMHS network, I was asked by Tate to develop a concept around 'Drawing with Light', taking the current Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots exhibition as a source of inspiration. The aim was to set-up a comfortable, relaxed, darkened space which would encourage different groups of young people to come together, socialise, participate in creative activity and leave with a positive feeling and sense of themselves.

In response to key Pollock artworks, participants were encouraged to engage freely with action mark-making while listening to abstract electronic music. The marks then began to turn into drawings that could be projected onto different surfaces through different digital and analogue and projection devices within a specially devised installation space. Time was also given for the group to socialise and catch up on CAMHS news.

As there was a lot going on in the workshop, I didn't have the chance to document to the extent I normally do, so a photographer was brought in on behalf of Tate to capture the process on film. The only blurry snapshot I do have is of some smiling people at the end who took hold of some finger lights and began to move and 'draw' with light. The young people had initially come into the room feeling nervous, shy and anxious. However, as the session drew to a close (at the time this snapshot was taken), the volume of voices, laughter and smiles and congregated groups chatting, not wanting to leave, was a sign for me that the space had acted as a container of positive interaction. I'm looking forward to developing this space again soon elsewhere.