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

 

 

 

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.
 

 

Heart of Glass

This month I was invited to develop and lead a session for Heart of Glass which has been programmed by artist and creative producer Claire Weetman and funded by ACE's Creative People and Places. Heart of Glass is a programme of creative activities in St Helens, Merseyside, which takes place in public spaces and community venues across the town. Claire has invited artists to respond to the locality, based on their own practice and interests.

I initially met Claire in St Mary's Market, in the local shopping centre in St Helens, where Heart of Glass have set up a creative base below Platform Studios, who occupy the former market offices. We spent some time talking about the programme, walking through the markets and also popped into St Helen's World of Glass museum.

I was immediately struck by the huge market windows overlooking the glass museum and, following my interest in colour, light and transparency, I decided to develop a session that would encourage participants and passers-by to respond to the window space.

As part of the session for young people and also a fortnightly family art club, participants were invited to work with a range of materials to create artworks that could be added to the windows or taken away. The installation grew as I worked alongside artist/producer Jacqui, assistant and promoter Ant, and some very enthusiastic children and young people who took a roll of electrical tape for a walk along the windows. It was lovely to see the layers of colours and lines appearing on the glass over the the outside views. We had a range of colourful, semi-transparent images, abstract designs, 3D forms (including post boxes!), paths, lines and kaleidoscopic images produced. Such a lovely venue and great people to work with.

Check out their flickr feed here!  

For the Love of Books!

 

In the age of iPads, iPhones and a multitude of other digital screen-oriented devices, the humble story book may be taking more of a backseat in some homes. Once introduced, young children become highly proficient tablet users in no time, familiar with all the taps, apps and swipes. On one hand, we can marvel at the swift manner in which children learn to skilfully operate such devices. Indeed, when using the right kinds of applications the tablet can become both a powerful and useful learning tool. On the other hand, and more worryingly, children remain more and more receptive and passive to the screen, which in turn has an impact on productive communication and language development.

 

The good news is we still have books! Books are also powerful and enjoyable learning tools that can immerse us in a world of excitement, adventures, beauty and ugly monsters too. We are more likely to read books together and share and discuss our thoughts and impressions through speech and actions. So, in an attempt to re-ignite the passion for books, I have been working alongside project co-ordinator and artist Katy McCall from High Peak Community Arts. For the Love of Books is a lottery-funded project that encourages young children and adults to spend more time together reading and engaging with books. The project is currently focusing on working with families in hard-to-reach rural community settings around High Peak, Derbyshire, in nursery schools and children's centres. Taking inspiration from a chosen book, children, their parents, carers and teachers are encouraged to read and explore the story together through a range of creative activities that help to bring the story world to life.

 

Our chosen book Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant is an excellent book for visual literacy, encouraging parents and children to explore the theme of journeys, countries, cultures, food and languages together. Mouk the Bear leaves his Parisian home and friends in search of a highly colourful adventure which leaves children immersed as their eyes explore all the beautiful illustrations across the richly detailled pages.  In response, to the book, we set up a number of activities in each nursery setting such as mono-printing, drawing and mark-making, puppets and projections. exploring objects and music from different cultures and introducing words in different languages.

 

The project is continuing as more artists are invited to respond to different books and themes. A simple idea can lead to a unique insight into the interaction between young children, parents, staff and artists and their practice, as well as having the opportunity to engage with a range of enjoyable and beloved books. For more information on the project and the organisation click here. 

Creative Picture Playground: Pop-Up Posers

It's photoshoot time and we're drawing inspiration from the Parr-look, which is on-trend this season!
 

This week, I will be leading Creative Playground at the Hepworth Wakefield, sending budding young photographers, picture-makers and posers to see the Rhubarb Triangle and Other Stories: Photographs by Martin Parr  - a detailled exhibition of the work of Martin Parr through the decades from his black & white nostalgic scenes of rural, methodist communities in West Yorkshire to his glossy, colourful critiques of subjects such as leisure, tourism, money and work.

In the studio the set-up will be playful with the chance to make some humorous collaged, pop-up scenes. There will also be a range of colourful sensory props, objects and materials to transform ourselves into different pop-up playful characters.

Looking forward to striking a pose and keeping the #hepworthwakefield Instagram feed active this week! Also, check out my @filledelumiere Instagram page!

#creativeplayground #hepworthwakefield #hepworthlearning #popupposers #popuppictures #popupportraits #popupphotos #popupphotobooth

Pop-Up at the Pavilion

My work takes me to all sorts of interesting venues and spaces and today was no exception. I was invited to do a pop-up workshop in the Mount Pavilion in Fleetwood near Blackpool, as part of a programme of pop-up holiday events programmed byLeftcoast.

I was really lucky as, despite the cool winter temperatures, the skies were blue and the sun was shining - perfect for a train and coastal tram ride to Fleetwood - a town right at the end of a stretch of coastline above Blackpool. Built in the 1800s on an extensive network of rabbit warrens (apparently!), The Mount Pavilion is perfectly positioned as a vantage point for views along the North West coastline which stretch as far as the Lake District and the Isle of Man on a good day. Perched on the hill like a glorious bandstand, the Pavilion houses a memorial clock which is supposed to chime every quarter of an hour, although I didn't hear it as I was pretty busy the whole time I was there! The Pavilion is currently being restored to its former glory and acts as a perfect base for cultural, community events.

I was greeted by two groups of workshop participants keen to get started with experimental paper pop-ups. The session Pop-Up Paper Play introduced ways to fold and cut paper to make pop-up dioramas and scenes, something I have been developing and working with myself recently. The 3D creations seemed really fitting for a pop-up programme in this unique venue.

It was a refreshing change to work at the seaside and meet members of the community of Fleetwood. The Pavilion was a perfect base overlooking the seafront and landscaped play areas and I'm sure there are lots of interesting activities programmed in what proved to be a quirky and curious space to get creative in.

You can also see some photos of Mount Pavilion scenes past 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.

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.


Bauhaus: Colour & Shape Combinations

Feeling slightly under the (lovely) weather and having time on my hands to sort through piles of work in my living room, I came across a brown folder with many slips of paper with coloured shapes. During my Takeover week at Manchester Art Gallery this summer (see previous post here), I decided to run an informal survey which presented participants (all ages) with 3 blank shapes (circle, triangle, square). I wanted to test whether they would intuitively follow the Bauhaus colour theory, matching the primary colours by colouring in the shapes as follows: blue circle, red square, yellow triangle.

Wassily Kandinsky believed that there was a universal bias to matching the colours and shapes in the way above, which formed part of his teachings on spirituality in art and psychology of colours, inspired also by Goethe. Kandinsky tested this theory with his students at the Bauhaus school and, unsurprisingly, the students followed their teacher's theory and the results were unanimous. There's more background information to read here. The theory has since been criticised and the results have since been disputed and disproven as irrelevant to our contemporary culture and the way we interpret symbols of colour and shape.

Well, having spent some time counting up the combinations, the results of my mini-survey are displayed in the image as follows:

My colour-shape match results!

So, you can see that out of the 295 people who chose to take part, the most popular combination was red circle, yellow triangle, blue square, closely followed by yellow circle, red triangle and blue square. In a lot of cases, the circle was viewed as a sun or planet; the triangle was viewed as a pyramid, nacho or something spiky and agressive and the square was often a container for water, the sea, the sky and something calm.

I did get really into this and recorded all of the responses and frequency of reasons. Here are some of the highlights:

"(blue circle) the moon - just chillin, (yellow triangle) DANGER - unnaturality, high voltage, (red square) unstoppable force"

"(blue circle) water drop, (red triangle) broken glass, (yellow square) pee"

"(red circle) sun, (yellow triangle) tortillas, (blue square) pool"

"(red circle) The clowns red nose, (yellow triangle) Roof of the houses, (blue square) Window in the house"

"(blue circle) I din't do it neat because I support M/C UNITED, (yellow triangle) Made me happy, (red square) It made me angry"

"(blue circle) An Allien egg, (yellow triangle) pyramid, (red square) button"

"(yellow circle) happy / the middle of a daisy, (red square) = stop / post box"

"(yellow circle) Joyful, because I think of happy faces and the sun, (red triangle) Angry because red is an angry colour. Red is for warning and danger signs, (blue square) gloomy"

 18 didn't conform to the instructions, either by colouring the shapes all one colour, just two colours, using two colours for one shape, or mixing primary colours to make secondary colours - many of these examples were by younger children or rebellious/non-conformist adults.

What is interesting is thinking about how these reasons change according to culture, age, background, interests, personalities etc. Also, by reducing these fabulous little coloured shape combinations into statistics, we also miss out on seeing the way each individual chose to colour their shape in and there were some great examples of this too! I'd like to turn into a piece of art soon... WATCH THIS BLANK COLOURED SPACE.