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.




Mini Art Club is 50!

We've just had our 50th Mini Art Club... and what a morning!

As part of the 'We Face Forward' summer programme, we responded to artist Nnenna Okore's work 'Where Heaven Meets the Earth', concentrating on the theme of decay and transformation. Materials to be explored and transformed were a variety of recycled papers, different consistencies and types of clay, as well as natural materials such as hessian, twine, vegetables and spices!

Okore is particularly concerned with re-using and transforming materials, working into them using a variety of techniques to test the limits of each material as it deconstructs, falls apart, decays, fades, changes colour, etc. We attempted to explore this laying out a wet clay and natural dye room with paper and also a dark, shadowy paper room. To complement and extend this further, dancer, percussionist and musician Danny Henry interpreted key words (such as rip, stamp, fold) through a series of beats, rhythms and movement - much to the delight of everyone involved! It was really insightful to work with such a diverse and experimental performer who instinctively understood the ethos of Mini Art Club.

Such a great way to celebrate our 50th session!

N.B. Lo-fi mini vid clips hopefully coming up soon!









We Face Forward: Magic Materials - 'Mini Junk Palace'

It's been a long and colourful week working on our Junk Palace project at Manchester Art Gallery!

Drawing inspiration from We Face Forward artist Pascale Marthine Tayou's 'Poupées Pascales' - 16 unique dolls hidden all around the art gallery for this summer's 'We Face Forward'- we created two exciting studio spaces for participants to explore the world of found objects and materials in novel and interesting ways. I worked alongside visual artist Sarah Marsh and fashion designer Mary Ononokpono of Mononoko fashion to develop the concept for the workshop. We came up with some excellent ways of fashioning plastic bags, newspaper, old electronic parts and west african fabrics into chunky accessories, jewellery and other such wonderful forms!

I also tailored the session to create today's Mini Art Club - Mini Junk Palace for little ones aged 0-5 years, to explore a beautiful, colourful, tactile environment. A big thanks to artist & filmmaker Jess Wild for supporting today's session along with volunteers Liz and Sabeena. Also thank you to Jali Nyonkoling Kuyateh for playing the Kora and lending us one of his CDs to fill the Junk Palace with beautiful music!









Mini Art Club April - 'Shadow Land' (Inspired by Roger Ballen)

After 2 weeks of 'Colour Pop' workshops (see previous post), colourful prints were stripped off the studio walls and replaced with clean layers of black & white paper for Mini Art Club - how different it looked!

Families followed a trail up to Roger Ballen's beautifully rich black & white square-formatted photographs in the current 'Shadow Land' exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Despite the slightly dark, adult-themed nature of Roger Ballen's work, families with young children responded well to his photographs - making simple connections with textures, lines and imagery in photos in certain areas of the exhibition. Children particularly loved feeling feathers, twigs, drawing with wire and finding animals hidden in the photographs as well as in toy form on the gallery floor.

Downstairs, two studios were set up to recreate the rich aesthetic of Roger Ballen's photos as children were invited to explore textures of key materials and, also, shadow and light on a large scale.






Colour Pop!

Here are some lovely pictures from half-term family workshops at Manchester Art Gallery this week and last!

The workshops introduced the concept of complementary or 'best friend' colours in paintings in the Modern & Contemporary Gallery, taking inspiration from John Hoyland's '14.6.64' (1964). Families looked for sets of best friend colours in paintings and were asked to think about how the colours made them feel. Later, downstairs in the studios, families could print using interesting objects and /or make abstract screen prints choosing combinations of complementary colours. Two studio activities were available for families with children aged 0-5 years and 6+ years.

As the two weeks progressed the studio walls became filled with a collection of pop colours!

'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