One day I will...

It has been another action-packed week working and travelling across the North West of England and beyond, before finally ending up back in Manchester to work with some rather excited and enthusiastic young people at the Royal Exchange. As part of the 'Theatreworks' project, I joined students from Our Lady's RC High School in Oldham at the end of what had also been a long and fruitful week for them too!

 

The young people had previously started on a journey with the learning team from the Royal Exchange Theatre at their school. They had begun to think about different ways they could work with the theatre to consider the 'future' after finishing school. They were given a tour of the different departments of the theatre and also creatively developed characters of their future 'selves' through drawing with Jim Medway, making story-boards, models and stop-frame animation with film-maker Matt Norman. It was my job to work with a team of young 'designers' to make sense of their journey and organise their artworks, ideas and reflections in an installation in the Lounge as part of the celebration.

 

My team of designers spent time creating visual backdrops for their fictional characters, devising a plan for the space and writing a wishlist of props and objects to creatively convey the roles of their characters. I also asked them to work on a timeline of their journey through the project, providing space to think about their feelings and reflections of the process, which were visually portrayed on the wall of the installation. Over the two days, the young people began to show more confidence and creativity and rose to the challenge of independently organising and arranging their artworks, which fit nicely into glass display cabinets that could rival any shop window display. I challenged myself to take a step back, which can be hard as a visual artist who wants everything to look spot-on and just so!

 

The project culminated in a performance by some of the young people and an opening of the Lounge exhibition, which the young people really took pride and ownership of as they showed friends and family their work in the installation. It was a lovely, heart-warming project to be part of.

Between the Trees

I've been venturing INTO THE WOODS, on behalf of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia's brilliantly adapts the magical, dark and funny Broadway musical and story that merges three classic fairy tales (Rapunzel, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood) together, bringing it to Manchester in a truly spectacular fashion!

Working with young people from Brownedge St Mary's Catholic High School, Walkden High School and Parrs Wood Sixth Form (my old school and sixth form college!), I ran art workshops to provide ideas and techniques to make 3D, pop-up dioramas or mini story worlds. Using old books, a collection of papers, card, art materials, leaves and a good dose of imagination, the young people were given some inspiration to make their pop-out worlds (some of which are pictured above).

A selection of the best works from a multitude of schools across the North West were then added to the Between the Trees art exhibition which was installed (literally between some trees) in the Royal Exchange's Education Lounge by artist Johnny Woodhams. I was really fortunate to be able to catch the opening of the exhibition and also the Into the Woods musical, which was a perfect way to get into a slightly dark and festive mood after a long year of work.

 

Into the woods, It's time to go, I hate to leave, I have to though...!