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.

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.

Manchester Art Gallery Takeover: Curious About Colour

It has been a colourful week in the Clore Art Studio at Manchester Art Gallery as I took over the space and developed an immersive, interactive environment for participants of all ages to explore.

In response to the theme of pattern and colour, I took artist Wassily Kandinsky's colour theory as a starting point. Kandinsky believed that if people are given three shapes (circle, triangle, square) to colour in with the three primary colours: red, yellow and blue, then there is an intuitive pattern or universal correspondence that people are likely to follow when matching the shapes with the colours. He believed that people were more likely to match the colours and shapes as follows: blue circle, yellow triangle and red square. He handed out a survey to his students at the Bauhaus school in 1923 and surprisingly there was a consensus which agreed with his theory. Although one could argue that he may have influenced his students.

I wanted to test this out with younger participants who knew nothing about the theory, some of whom are yet to be conditioned (culturally) to see colours in a certain way. I asked families who entered the space to colour in the three shapes as an introduction to thinking about how we see primary colour. They were asked to think about their choices and write down what each coloured shape reminded them of. The display of colour-shape correspondences grew over the week (but I have yet to count up the results as there are so many of them!). Watch this space to see which colour-shape combination was the MAG favourite.

Participants could also interact with the primary colours through form, line and light which were incorporated in different ways within the interactive installation space. It was interesting to see how absorbed participants were with the space as people spent hours moving around the different areas, exploring texture, light, movement and paper construction. I also learned that some children and adults found it quite hard to articulate their choice, and if anything is clear just by looking at the visual display board, most people couldn't agree on a consensus. 

But does it float?

As part of the first two weeks of the Mondrian Mohamedi summer workshops at Tate Liverpool, I have focused on the exquisite work of Indian abstract artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Lesser known in the UK, Mohamedi's work incorporates a number of mediums such as drawing, painting and photography through a journey from semi-abstract landscapes to painstakingly abstract, geometric pen and ink drawings. Nasreen Mohamedi was inspired by Islamic architecture, desert landscapes and seascapes encountered during her travels and these can be seen within beautiful examples of her black and white photographs. 

But does it float? was a series of workshops during the first part of August which encouraged children and participants of all ages to explore experimental, 'random' mark-making vs. careful, controlled, measured lines using different printing, frottage and drawing processes. Inspired by abstract art, architecture, binary patterns, geometry, and the local, Merseyside landscapes, participants worked into thin strips of card to create floating, 3D, architectural sculptures in black and white. 

Watch this space for my next blog post to see how we move from monochrome into an exploration of grids, primary colours, pop-ups and the world of Mondrian and his Studios.

 

 

 

'Far, Far Away' Preparation Underway

I've been a busy bee, developing ideas to create a paper forest, in a tent, at Manchester Art Gallery...  I am working to fill a large tent (5 mtr diameter) with the beginnings of a paper forest, so that gallery visitors can explore the tent and join in with some paper-cutting action!

The aim is to create a story world inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and their interest in staying 'true to nature'. Here, I hope to bring woods  and forests to life, inviting visitors to jump into an imaginary world of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings. In the tent, there will be other items hidden away, so that the experience will be multi-sensory (smell, sounds, things to look at and feel as well as make). We also hope to play with light and cast shadows...

Please see the pictures below for progress...