Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Audrey O'Brien
How can I bring my interests of the Dada movement when working with people? Is it to employ the use of chance? How can this develop anything new? or is it simply creating a set of techniques?
I developed a sensory Dada poetry workshop. From here I wanted to make Dada kits that I can reuse in other workshops. This blog will follow the development of the kits, research and different ways working with people.
# 10 [27 July 2012]
Bauhaus Costume Workshop
The End of the Beginning
This was a workshop in costume design - really well prepared with Bauhaus images, books, fabric, sewing machine, potato printing, collage materials. The artists helped with costume ideas and practical making. It really inspired me and the three hours flew by. I was however, disappointed that there were not more participants and have found this with a separate artist led workshop. What is happening with advertising or are people too busy? The artists had put so much into this project I felt more people could of really benefited from it. The cost was extremely reasonable...I am puzzled.
# 9 [27 July 2012]
The most successful material I have been using to encourage a sensory response is the commonly known heat pad or handwarmmer. The substance inside is called sodium acetate and is a cool liquid. When this liquid has physical change (usually a metal disc inside to react the substance change) it changes to a solid and emanates heat. People completely change and become more relaxed or usually tell you what part of their body is sore - like a hip or a knee. For me its a very comforting feeling and helps me relax.
I tried making a costume with a pocket inside for the handwarmer. The jersey material I began with is too light for the weight. I will test out using a heavier fabric.
# 8 [14 July 2012]
Things just fall into place...
A friend emailed me information on a Bauhaus costume making workshop in the Lighthouse Glasgow. What perfect timing!
Preparation led me to dancer Martha Graham (who's work was introduced to me by my aunt in New York who was her nurse) and in particular a piece titled Lamentation. This is expressing mourning which I have interests in the non-verbal language here but its the costume she wore which held my interests. A lavender jersey tube that encased her body leaving head, hands and feet exposed. Grahams dance concentrated on minimal costumes apposed to set design/backdrops.
I had been using metallic 2 way lyrca in a group project which surprisingly encouraged a lot of peer interaction that would not of happened without the fabric.
# 7 [4 July 2012]
Textiles & performance
"Both Sun Ra, and Hélio Oiticica refused to separate the body from their conceptual and creative production."
It has been a almost a year I have been working in a young womans house one to one. It is definetly moving towards performance using fabric and heat pads. Need to find a collaborator to make costumes for the both of us.
# 6 [24 February 2012]
On-going work with New Caledonian Woodlands adult group in Edinburgh. I had brought an 8 metre long interface fabric and wax pastels for the group to design rubbings of the natural environment and found objects. As the group held on to the fabric there was a natural movement which made their traces visible and highlighted the structure of trees. One thing I had not envisaged was how the group built up ownership of the fabric. It was their spontaneous idea to launch it down the river after weaving it in and out of the trees. Everyone was wearing wellington boots which gave them the freedom to 'play' in the river. As the fabric started to drift away one member went after it. They spoke about drying it out and keeping it as a memory of the experiential event. This was a fantastic day and I was really pleased that they wanted to keep something from the environmental art experience. What happened made me realise that my role as artist lends its self to something spiritual. Not in a naff 'art is spiritual' way but more in terms of human potential, fun and going back to your youth.
"that was very ceremonial"
"it takes me back"
# 5 [19 October 2011]
I was trying to think of accessible ways for people with limited mobility to make dada poems because ripping paper was not working for some. I took a description of an abstract artwork and made a Dada poem online using Dada poetry generator:
Tissue paper fortunes
The group put the words into individual scented tissue papers - different scent for yellow and blue. This was to allow people to choose their words by scent rather than language..however the scents had nothing to do with the words.
It was great fun putting all the scrunched up tissue papers (idea came from fortune cookies) onto large fabric and tossing up into the air for people to catch. The caught words became the Dada poem.
Toss with sheets of printed paper
Brush with rhythm and pace
# 4 [19 October 2011]
What makes a creative democratic workshop with people? I often contradict myself in having planned the objects and materials I bring to a group against wanting to facilitate an open-ended experience. How can you get this balance so people are unrestricted in the way they use materials? Last week I had presented apple slices and cocktail sticks and what happened was pure pleasure to observe. Two participants inspired each other and totally unprompted by myself. Why am I there? Is it to simply present materials and become invisible? Can you be an invisible artist? And if so what is your role? I find by providing space and silences things sometimes happen in very imaginative ways....
# 3 [7 June 2011]
The title for this blog
'music playing paper whisk'
was created by one of the group using Dada technique. It also sums up for me the mix of materials, tools and fun had on the project.
I made the birds to present quotes I collected throughout the project. There are six birds - representing ideas of change, exploration, future and emotions.
This was a 10 week project exploring work placements for pupils with 'complex needs' before they leave school. It was observed that given the right environment everyone can participate.
# 2 [7 June 2011]
Light Sculptures from shiny things
This project is a series of two-hour workshops with different groups of children and adults run by Flexi-care. They have been collecting materials and making sculptures from their favourite things or spontaneous ideas.
I passed around some of my favorite things I collect and received some wonderful responses..
'you can't eat it'
'green & purple'
'science around here'
'tools in a box'
# 1 [17 November 2010]
"the accident, which eludes the laws of reason, is seen by Arp to be the key to life and creation. Chance is the spearhead in an attack against reason".
I love researching and finding a sentence that sums up what you have been thinking. When working with people with sensory impairments it is natural to start thinking in a new way and questioning what an experience is for each participant. I seen some parallels with the Dada movement and my practice with people such as to question the order of perception and taste. I co-designed and ran a one day event called Get Lost which played an audio Dada poem and ran a taster workshop.
To hear the audio Dada poem 189:
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My skills as an artist have facilitated people to realise their creative potential and encourage people to see things in a new way. Through designed projects I create a space to allow people to experience and benefit from participation in open-ended explorative and experimental art.