101/365: the bike track

I sat with some children in the atelier today and asked them to draw what was important at school. Most of them connected to the outdoor spaces: “the swings”, “butterflies”, “the swinging tyre”, “the tunnel” and this boy Shaurya drew himself and his friends “at the bike track”.

To see the coloured version, click here.

My Space at Manchester Art Gallery

I've had a really enjoyable time working with two groups of children and young people from Mottram, Cheshire at Manchester Art Gallery today. Focusing on selected artworks from the current House Proud exhibition, I planned a session with Joanne Davies, Senior Education Manager at Manchester Art Gallery, to develop a bespoke workshop that encourages young people to consider ways of looking at, interpreting and responding to art. It als o inspires them to develop their own creative ideas in relation to displaying their work and producing creative environments.

In the gallery, we selected three key abstract modernist artworks which represented domestic or imagined interiors through colour, shape, lines, symbols and framing. We asked the group to spend time thinking about and discussing what they could see, before then going on to digitally photograph their favourite zoomed-in shots of artworks and produce their own timed, fragmented drawings which were layered up to create a collective drawing piece.

Downstairs in the studio, the participants went on to create further drawings using different media in order to consider the way artworks could be displayed and presented in different studio environments, using projections and theatrical environments. It was great to see two different groups come together, share some intriguing, intelligent ideas and work so enthusiastically in response to a new way of working. I hope they got lots of ideas to take back to school and use when displaying their work and developing their own creative spaces!


A Study of Nature and Beauty

At last, the children's work is up - as a mini exhibition in their school!

Using Andrew MacCallum's painting Oak Trees in Sherwood Forest (1877), as a starting point for key themes and inspiration, I spent four days working with two reception classes at Norris Bank Primary School. The project was organised by Manchester Art Gallery as part of a wider project responding to the current Art for All: Thomas Horsfall's Gift to Manchester exhibition. 

Working with both classes, we explored lines, shapes, silhouettes and details of plants and leaves and turned these into drawings and paper cuts which were brought together to make the 'forest come alive' in a storage cupboard in the school! We also created some beautiful mixed media artworks to explore colour, light, transparency, textures and mini worlds. 

The project explored a number of contrasts:

bringing the outdoors in vs. extending the classroom outdoors

light & dark

light, air, sky (above) vs. texture, surfaces, ground (below)

man-made vs. natural materials

Artist Patricia Mountford also worked with Year One pupils to explore and classify materials to make sculptures, responding to the artwork The Carline Thistle as part of a study of Surrey Wild Flowers by Elizabeth Redgrave.

I now just have one more space I need to convert into a 'forest' tomorrow for Manchester Art Gallery's Thursday Lates, Nature in the City

'Scenic Sketching' with Nichola Pemberton

I had a sunny Sunday in the Hepworth Wakefield studio working with artist Nichola Pemberton on 'Scenic Sketches' (2D-3D) - turning the studio floor into a giant 3D sketch, whilst also doing some string drawing on the windows. The workshop encouraged participants to be inspired by the landscape/cityscape out of the window and have fun experimenting with 2D and 3D lines and forms. It was another busy weekend and, alas, there was no time for any outdoor adventures whilst the sun was out. Fortunately, Sir David Chipperfield had the insight to position the studios so that the windows faced the path of the afternoon sun. The studios were filled with light and the work was fully illuminated!

The Hepworth Wakefield: http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/

Surprise, Surprise!

Just a quick one.... am loading up some pictures taken from half-term 'Surprise, Surprise' workshops this week, taken at Manchester Art Gallery.

We responded to Max Ernst's 'Petrified City' and asked families to play surrealist word games in front of the painting in the gallery. We also asked them to try out Ernst's frottage (rubbing) technique before creating a surrealist 'chance' composition in the studios...

Families' interpretations of the 'Petrified City' were fascinating! Here are some of their surreal, poetic responses:

It's a ritz cracker

Like a piano


It's a full fat piece of cheese for the people playing multiple chess games underneath 

It's a cloud falling onto a dolls' house

It feels smooth

People watching a football match

I like this picture because it looks like a town with a sunset in Bedouin Land! Warm!


The moon revealed happy thoughts from the castle as it glistened in the sky

The hill was filled with petrifying memories as the destruction of the moon howled

Junk and horrible stories clattered together as they steadily expressed hopes that never came true 


The warm moon is lighting up the trains and the city

The icy sun makes the world dark in the country


The sun warms my heart in this warm picture

The water freezes in my brain

The fire burns in my eye


The bright moon shone over the fast trains that were passing underneath

The dull sun lacked light underneath the slow trains that were stopping overhead

The glaring moon bellowed out its glorious light at the speeding trains that were shooting past below


To see Max Ernst talk about the frottage technique, click on the link:


More work (Facebook): http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150825399644128.510733.68496394127&type=1



Drawing with shadow and light - The Big Draw 2008

The Big Draw event at Manchester Art Gallery pulled in the crowds throughout the day as drawing interventions took place in every corner. As they entered the building, people were invited to hold streamers to create waves and ripples of colour as they wheeled around the gallery. Visitors were invited to pose for silhouette drawings which were then suspended around the impressive entrance to the gallery. Elsewhere, a community-initiated project invited visitors to make their own drawing robot which could wheel itself around gallery spaces, leaving a coloured snail trail.


I developed and facilitated a free-flowing shadow drawing laboratory. After a couple of days' work lining the entire studio floor with white paper and suspending sheets of thin, white fabric to form a cube which you could enter, the base for the shadow laboratory was built. Old overhead projectors (OHPs) were positioned  outside of the cube so that people could sit inside and watch projections and passing shadows. Visitors were invited to scribble on the floor and could make their own shadow puppets, shapes, transparency textures and projected drawings on acetate. Ropelights, a fabulous coloured spectrum light and abstract music also enhanced the experimental, fluidity of the space, which changed constantly through the multitudes of interactions.


Young children sat and scribbled, watching the moving silhouettes and shadows -  some tried to catch them, grabbing the gauze screen. Older children and adults enjoyed creating endless projections with shapes, puppets and drawings. One OHP was closer to the projection screen than the other, giving a smaller and clearer square of light which formed the frame of a mini shadow  theatre. The other, being slightly further away from the screen, enlarged the shadows and transformed the atmosphere inside the cube as different things cast shadows over the projection screen.


On the whole, the installation was fun and offered a range of possibilities. I had aimed to create a tranquil and calming space, however, the event itself was exceptionally busy so the space was packed throughout the day. Nevertheless, people dipped in and out and some remained there for much longer, simply bathing in the light!