094/365: riding high

It’s all about remembering how to be playful… for the warmer version, please click on my Flickr photostream link here.

A Space for Curiosity and Free Play

After a long period of planning, research, studio time, workshops, material sourcing, installation, documentation, delivery and reflection (phew!), I am uploading my experience of working on the new Clore Art Studio at Manchester Art Gallery. Working in collaboration with fellow artists (and partners in crime) Sarah Marsh, Katy McCall and Family Learning Manager Alex Thorp, we created and produced the Clore Art Studio, a playful, interactive space which took initial inspiration from Grayson Perry's current exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences. For more information about the exhibition click here. The process behind Grayson Perry's work can also be viewed in his Channel 4 documentary In the Best Possible Taste (still available online on 4OD). 

Our brief was not to develop a direct interpretation or response to Grayson Perry's tapestries. Nor was it about creating a learning experience that attempted to 'educate others' and explain the concepts, processes and ideas behind Grayson Perry's work. It was more significant for us to respond as individual artists, distilling visual or aesthetic elements of Perry's work which related to our own practice and interests.

In addition, the intention was to create a space that would provide opportunities for free play, open-ended interaction, conversation and inter-generational activity, whilst at the same time making connections to Grayson Perry's exhibition in the neighbouring gallery . 

To develop this space, Sarah and I initially tested out our creative ideas and activities on a class of 5-6 year olds from St Augustine's Primary School, Monsall, Manchester. Workshops took place over one week, allowing us to develop themes, processes and a wish list of materials, resources and structures. Sarah was interested in 'lines' and I focused on the interplay of objects, colour and sorting. These themes were all pulled out as conceptual strands from Grayson Perry's tapestries, during our initial planning meetings.

As the week of research progressed, we began to understand the ways children could totally pull apart, deconstruct and re-figure a theme or idea! With this in mind, we needed to create a space that could provide endless opportunities for interaction with a number of robust, appealing objects and materials within an equally engaging, unbreakable installation framework. At this point, Katy came on board to lend her wisdom to the positioning and installation of tables, storage, furniture and objects. 

The end result was a deconstructed version of Perry's world of furniture and colourful, domestic objects in a vibrant, quirky installation. In his work, Perry suggests that different household objects and interiors are indicators of a particular class taste and identity, but what happens when children are placed into such a space? At what age does a child begin to demonstrate a sense of taste and a preference for one item over another?  And why? Would children even place such meanings and values over a particular object or would their response be completely 'innocent' and untainted in relation to adult-oriented notions of class taste and identity? 

In the Clore, a storage unit fashioned out of reclaimed deep, blue crates displayed an arrangement of enticing, colourful, domestic, pound shop items, textiles and ribbons laid out ready for play. White, deconstructed furniture provided a framework for play and interaction within the space. Opposite, a drawing table was laden with silverware and looping lines of words, which encouraged people to look at and choose objects to draw in a continuous line. Meanwhile, key words were positioned around the space, prompting action: wrap, stack, sort, shadows, line, patterns, twist, weave, hide, same, different, etc. Meanwhile, on the side walls, photographs of children from St Augustines were displayed, facing old TV monitors with films of children playing within the studio space.

To follow-up on the installation of the space, we were invited to facilitate artist-led interventions within the studio during the weekends, while a team of volunteers were trained to maintain and run the space throughout the week. The studio became a lively, popular place for visitors of all ages and many observations were kept of the variety of weird and wonderful interactions and happenings witnessed over the four months! All in all, it was a rather, wacky, ambitious and fun project to be involved with, once the inital stress of rushed installation deadlines was out of the way!! 

For more information, see Manchester Art Gallery's Studio Sketchbook blog. Click here for a write-up by Alex Thorp and also click here for my Top 10 observations working in the Clore!

Just So Festival 2012: Away with the Fairies, The Tent of Surprise

After a long and lovely weekend working at the Just So festival at Rode Hall Parkland Cheshire, I've finally found some time to load up a few pictures.

Hidden in enchanted woodland, 'Away with the Fairies', my Tent of Surprise revealed a paper forest (literally!) growing inside the tent. With baskets filled with surprises to rummage through, families were able to explore objects through all the senses. Torches revealed paper-cut shadows and bugs (both imaginary and real!), pots of perfumes or potions conjured up responses, emotions and memories, children listened out for noises and the feely basket was full of surprises - including a real frog that had accidentally landed in there and gone to sleep! Perhaps it was the fairy queen who had been out casting spells...

Links:

http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/

http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/away-with-the-fairies-at-a-glance/

http://www.facebook.com/justsofestival

 

Paper Sculptures - The Hepworth Wakefield

Here are some photos taken this weekend at my new paper construction workshop 'Arti-gami' at The Hepworth Wakefield. Sculptor Liz Pontin and I worked together to develop a new workshop which encourages people to play with paper and try out new paper sculpting techniques, drawing inspiration from Barbara Hepworth's sculptures.

Families are invited to build their own interpretations of Hepworth's sculptures and maquettes. They are also invited to play more open-endedly with paper to find different ways to form and manipulate it. Taking the idea of Barbara Hepworth's sculpture garden, families can add their paper sculptures to make the garden grow. They can also explore the shadows of their paper constructions.

Arti-Garmi runs from 11am - 4pm on the following dates this summer: 4th, 5th, 13th - 17th August and 8th, 9th September:

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/whatson?page=3&month=&year=&category=&audience=

Just So Festival - Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire - 17th-19th August 2012 (save the date!)

 

Time flies... and I'm starting to gather my ideas and materials to fill a tent full of magical surprises at the Just So Festival this August!

The Just So Festival is a quirky, creative, boutique festival aimed at children, young people and their families. Originally based in Shropshire, it has moved this year to Rode Hall Parkland in Cheshire for a weekend of camping and creativity in the woods. It will be a treat to spend some time doing my creative thing outdoors surrounded by trees, natural light and sunbeams (fingers crossed!)

Just So aims to be more than just a family festival - featuring some of the best UK arts activity. There'll be lots of story-telling, dancing, visual arts, lights, magic and mayhem in the woods!

I will be hiding in a tent 'Away with the Fairies' (I'm already there), creating a world of papery delights - the rest is a secret, so I will keep 'schtum' for now....

For more information about the festival visit the site at: http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/

For a plan of the festival site, please view the map and click on the different areas: http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/2012-programme-2/

I'm very, very excited!

 

 

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!

Links:

http://www.pascalemarthinetayou.com/

http://www.wefaceforward.org/artists/pascale-marthine-tayou

http://www.evelynarts.co.uk/

http://www.msafropolitan.com/2011/08/msafropolitan-boutique-interview-series-mary-onokpono-of-mononoko.html

http://www.manchesterfashion.com/c/19/223/mononoko-conscience-culture-couture

 

 

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.

Links:

http://www.manchestergalleries.org/whats-on/exhibitions/index.php?itemID=87

http://www.rogerballen.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Uee_mcxvrw

 

'Chance Compositions' - video uploaded

As mentioned a few weeks ago, here's a lovely vimeo vid by Jessica Wild, which captures the 'Imagine' session we led together at Manchester Art Gallery.

Inspired by Max Ernst's 'chance' frottage collage 'Petrified City', families were invited to create random sound compositions by collaging stickers and other materials onto old vinyl records which were then played on a turntable. In addition, families also enjoyed cutting up album covers and made interesting, surreal collages. One little girl even decided to put stickers over all the men's heads on the album cover of Fame, leaving only the women's heads visible!

To see and hear the 'chance compositions', click on the link: https://vimeo.com/37909145

Also, for some rather low quality vid clips go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michikofujii/sets/72157629162585530/

 

 

'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

Sad

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHdU4JfY-bU

More work (Facebook): http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150825399644128.510733.68496394127&type=1