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.

Flickr Upload: The Early Years Atelier at the Whitworth

A moment of focus amidst a buzz of activity in the Atelier.  Image courtesy of Karen Hewitt, 2015.

How many pictures do we take in a lifetime? Every Monday I take at least 20-50 images in the Early Years Atelier alone! You can see some of these images on the Whitworth's Flickr  photostream here.

The Early Years Atelier is a new concept in the Clore Learning Studio at the Whitworth. It runs every Monday from 10am-4pm and is a free, drop-in space for families and community groups with young children.

I have been developing and delivering the Atelier since the gallery opened this February 2015 and each week different materials and objects have been introduced as provocations for open-ended play, socialising, exploration of materials, expressive language development, conversations, role play, action, movement and positive interactions between participants.

At the time of writing we have had over 1500 visits to the Atelier - which is very exciting. I really hope that a wide range of people come to use the Atelier as a valuable community resource and space which they can return to again and again. To get a sense of some of the ways participants have encountered the space, click here. Activity in the Atelier is observed, documented and evaluated each week and respond to interests, ideas and interactions of all those who use it.

 

We Face Forward - 'Rags to Riches' @Manchester Art Gallery, Part 1

Phew... I'm on a roll! Here's a selection of images taken in the 'Rags to Riches' summer family workshops at Manchester Art Gallery as part of the We Face Forward festival across Manchester.

Inspired by Nnenna Okore's artwork 'When the Heavens Meet the Earth', we have been challenging ourselves to transform waste materials into wondrous works of art. Okore uses a range of natural materials which she deconstructs, decays, dyes, reforms, etc. She works with natural materials such as paper, clay, burlap and natural dyes.

Over the past couple of weeks in the gallery, we have been focusing on line and form, producing drawings and experimenting with newspaper in the gallery in front of the artwork. Downstairs we've been working with a range of waste materials to create colliograph prints. We also had a lot of fun exploring different ways to shape clay using key words as prompts... what fun!

Links:

http://www.nnennaokore.com/

http://www.wefaceforward.org/artists/nnenna-okore

http://www.wefaceforward.org/venues/manchester-art-gallery

http://www.facebook.com/ManchesterArtGallery#

http://www.manchestergalleries.org/

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

 

Mini Art Club: in the heart of the city

This month's 'We Face Forward' Mini Art Club session responded to the artist Piniang's semi-abstract collaged paintings 'Flood in the Suburb 1 and 2' and 'Power Cut in the Suburb'. Piniang (real name Ibrahima Niang) is a multi-media artist who works with a fusion of materials. HIs paintings depict the architecture of Dakar and somehow capture the chaos of an overcrowded city after a flood or power cut. Here, Piniang is concerned with population growth and urban development out of control.

Families visited the exhibition virtually in the dark, accompanied by the frenetic beat of the drum played by Danny Henry. We then headed down to the studio to mark-make and explore various recycled materials, focusing on the colour palette in Piniang's work. We later constructed (and knocked down) a fragile cardboard city, and danced to the beat of a chaotic city, led by the amazingly versatile Danny.

What a fast, colourful, frenzied and fun morning!

Links:

http://www.wefaceforward.org/venues/manchester-art-gallery

http://www.wefaceforward.org/artists/piniang

http://www.facebook.com/ManchesterArtGallery#

http://www.mancky.co.uk/?p=3896

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR8-EWcRo08

Playing with Paper: The Hepworth Wakefield

Here are some lovely pictures taken from weekend 2 of my paper workshop at the Hepworth this weekend, working alongside sculptor Liz Pontin:

Artigami! Enjoy!

Links:

http://lizpontin.com/

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/

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!

Links:

http://www.nnennaokore.com/

http://www.wefaceforward.org/venues/manchester-art-gallery

http://www.wefaceforward.org/artists/nnenna-okore

http://www.facebook.com/ManchesterArtGallery#

http://www.mancky.co.uk/?p=3896

 

 

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=

Playing with Cameras, Light and Colour

I've just finished an ace project working with a nursery from a school in North Manchester. Our focus was on promoting speaking and listening and creative development through art workshops and an identified key theme. 

My focus or theme was initially photography, which then became broader as we began to consider the basic principles behind photography such as light, dark, colour, reflection and refraction. We also used key artworks and studio spaces at Manchester Art Gallery to further explore light and shadow, positive and negative. Children were also given cameras to use throughout the project to record their experiences and their language and observations were recorded throughout. 

Here are some of the things they got up to:

-Focusing on taking photos in indoor and outdoor spaces in their school.

-Projecting different objects, drawings, materials

-Exploring shiny materials and reflections

-Spending time focusing on drawing Antony Gormley's sculpture 'Filter' at Manchester Art Gallery

-Exploring positives and negatives through paper and projections

We packed a lot of activity into a few days and we're hoping to create a blog about the wider project too (3 artists, 3 different groups!). I'll shout out when the gallery blog goes live!