178/365: spirit time

‘These objects were made for magicians to use in stage entertainments that imitated public séances. The clock would be spun and mysteriously land on the predicted hour and the spirit bell would chime in unison. The lock could open itself while disembodied rapping hands tapped out mysterious messages.’

Peering into a cabinet of curiosities at the ‘Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection London. To see the image in colour and more, please click on my Flickr photostream link here.

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

 

 

 

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

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of an Atelierista

As if I haven't got enough to do, I have now decided to up my game and start a Tumblr blog as the-scribble-kid ! This blog should hopefully act as my online Diary of an Atelierista. So do pop over there from time to time and see what happens!

 

Summer in the City

It may be September tomorrow and also the end of another non-existent summer but, despite the rain, overcast skies and waterproof clothing, there were some non-weather-related things worth hanging around for this summer!
 

Here are my Top 5 magic summer workshop moments:

 

1. Watching this boy, his Mum and little brother spend hours in the Atelier at the Whitworth, as they played and constructed with paper together. They made sculptures, drawings, body armour, headwear, paper cuts and then finally a kite which was flown in the Art Garden outside the studio. 

 

2. Observing young children and their adults as they took the time to simply stop and enjoy the views out of the window overlooking the Calder weir, outside the Hepworth Wakefield.

 

3. Dreaming up ideas, setting up for and watching my summer 'takeover' unfold at Manchester Art Gallery as participants responded to Kandinsky's colour-shape theory and immersed themselves in some proper primary colour magic. It was lovely to work with such an ace, supportive team too. Please read the previous blogpost for more details!

 

4. Watching Toby and his Nan bond with lots of fun and laughter as they explored the concept of balance in numerous ways, as part of the Hepworth Wakefield's Toddler Tuesday session.

 

5. Welcoming children of all ages into the Atelier every Monday to vote for their favourite artworks and work in their own unique ways as they formed connections with themes like the Possibility of Paper and Printed Patterns.

 

6. Ok, I know I said Top 5 but I can't resist adding the classic boy-with-a-colander-on-his-head photo. He walked around the studio for 10 minutes shouting, "Mummy, I'm here. Look!" as he hid behind the colander after having clanged it around on the stone floor for a further 10 minutes to explore what noises he could make. The colander revealed a lovely, cheeky face complete with a fully-fledged charcoal beard.