I am super excited to announce that Arts Council England have awarded me with a project grant to investigate how to make interactive art without touch over the next year.

As you’ll know I love inviting the audience to touch and interact with my work, with Covid-19 this just can’t happen. The project gives me the time and resource to spend the next year figuring out how to still make really playful, interactive work but without touch.

I’m going to be working with MK Gallery, Culture Coventry (Herbert Art Gallery & Museum & Transport Museum), Coventry Council’s event team, Art in the Park, Artscape Management and the BALTIC. With them I’ll find out how art organisations are responding to Covid-19 and I’ll be doing some of my own research too. I’ll produce a PDF and do artist talks in the Spring to share the research and most importantly how it effects artists, artwork and audiences.

After the research phase I’m going to spend time developing my digital skills with Ludic Rooms to gain the skills I need to make interactive art without touch. With my new skills I’ll make a small installation that will be revealed at Random Stringin the winter 2021.

To keep up to date with the project keep checking my blog, Twitter and Instagram. It might be a little quite from Christmas until March as I’ve got a little one on the way. I’ll still be working hard, watch this space! My play blog will continue to grow as I read Michael Rosen’s Book of Play, keep an eye on that page too.

This project is made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


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I spoke to Kate back in the winter and she was really unsure what Art in the Park was going to look like and if it could even go ahead. We chatted about ideas like ticketing to reduce numbers or counting people in. Without knowing what the restrictions were going to be it was impossible to know what form Art in the Park was going to take this year.

The first weekend of August came and there was no restrictions in place! The festival went ahead and felt very much like it had in the past, no need for tickets or counting. I think we were a bit more spread out than previous years, this didn’t change the feel of the festival. As the festival was outside many people chose to not wear masks which made it feel even more like it had before.

This year I created Laughing Lollies. We had originally chatted about making a piece of work in response to Covid back in September 2020 but as Easter came and Covid was still a big deal we decided we wanted to make something that make people laugh instead and that gave them a moment of joy. What could be more joyful than five giant lollipops in bright colours that are super shiny telling jokes. They were incredibly popular with 7,500 people interacting with them over the two days. The jokes were infectious, children would repeat the ones they’d heard to their parents and people would share jokes they new. I hope the jokes created a catalyst, I like to imagine that people went to work on Monday and shared the jokes they learnt and then that person sharing ti when they got home.

Laughing Lollies is my first touch-free interactive artwork. They work really well, you walk past them and the amazing Letitia George from BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio will tell you a joke and laugh along with you. The lollipops work with a motion sensor and have a Adafruit sound card, amplifier and 5v speakers in built into them. They really isn’t any need to touch them.

To my surprise everyone touched them! They touched and touched and touched them. Some people thought the motion sensors were buttons which explains some of the touching but when I added a label saying ‘motion sensor’ people still touched them. I don’t understand! Pre-covid it would be really normal for people to want to touch my work outside of a gallery and I would actively encourage them to. To keep them safe I made something they didn’t need to touch but still did – one child even licked them! I thought after people wouldn’t want to touch things any more, I’d go as far to say it’s unfashionable to touch things in public now but it’s seemed to not have effected the people of Leamington. I’m double jabbed and I still don’t want to touch anything, perhaps I need to relax a bit and I am trying too.

The lollipops are off to MK Gallery and will be in their outside space for the bank holiday weekend. The gallery are supervising them, I won’t see people interacting but I will ask the gallery for feedback on the touching situation to see if it’s common.


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MK Gallery opened it doors again in May after a tricky year of being open in September, October and for 18 days in December, they are over the moon to welcome visitors back. Their approach is very much visitors first and what is possible in the pandemic.

To make visitors as comfortable as possible the staff are lateral flow testing and how to keep them safe is constantly being discussed. To visit, the audience are being asked to book online first, this can be done in person but there might be a wait and it can take a minute or two to get all of the information for track and trace.

The main exhibition is visual art, it is currently Memphis: Plastic Field which looks great. This opened in December and is on until 12 September 2021. MK aren’t asking the artists to risk assess their work, the gallery is doing it. If it moves, play sound or has lighting they do the risk assessment with the artist. For sound they have removed head phones and have spread the pieces out to allow the sound to travel.

They are looking to do more outdoors and are really enthusiastic for it to happen, especially with a teenage audience. On Monday’s they have parkour which is great as it activates the site, there is graffiti on the floor outside. Over the summer there will be lots of activities taking place.

From my chat with Niki and Tara the audience was the most important thing for them and them feeling comfortable. They want to make sure if you are a fully enthusiastic toucher you have a great time and if you are feeling very vulnerable you can come and enjoy the exhibition in full confidence that the gallery is doing every thing they can to look after you. They are really excited to be working outside of the gallery over the summer which I’m really excited about as it really is my favourite place to work.


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The BALTIC reopened in May and I had a good chat with Vicky Sturrs, head of learning and civic engagement before hand.

From May – July the BALTIC will be open with covid safe measures in place. They involve things like booking online before your visit, tickets are free and can be got on the door but there might be a wait. For family sessions there are extra resources that are cleaned and quarantined after use. The amount of people allowed in one gallery at a time has been halved and then will be slowly increased up until July. This is interesting as it might change the way visitors view the art on display, imagine going to see the Mona Lisa with half the amount of people there! The increase in numbers won’t just happen, it will be based on watching the visitors and their behaviour around others. This is what interests me the most about my chat with Vicky, it’s all about the audience and they’re confidence and how they react to the space, not the government guidelines (of course being mindful of them) but actually how the audience are feeling. The BALTIC want to be the lead on this, the last 18 months have been hard, they’ve had to constantly react to the guidelines. Now with the roadmap in mind they want to start taking control of their own destiny with the visitors at the heart of it.

For families the learning space is open and separated into zones for bubbles of six. These are bookable sessions with seating, tables and play equipment. The sensory space is bookable too. Over the summer there will be a summer of play with a play library on the square outside of the gallery. There will be free tea, coffee and juice and lots of playful resources including hula hoops which I am a big fan of. I can not wait to see this come together.

On September 25th 2021 the BALTIC’s famous play exhibition will once again open with Albert Potrony, Equal Play. The exhibition will be on for a year, this is longer than usual as the date has had to change many times and their business plan has changed. Play is a strand of work they are really interested in.

Albert’s vision for the exhibition came pre-covid, they haven’t expected him to change the exhibition at all. Covid is included in all their conversations now, they are looking at how to make it possible in a Covid world. The BALTIC want artists to have visions that they are excited about. How to make it possible is a discussion.

Chatting with Vicky has been brilliant. I feel we are very much on the same page, it’s about making work that’s exciting and finding how to make sure the audience is comfortable with the work. I was really inspired by the BALTIC choosing their destiny. It feels impossible to plan for the future, with this approach you can plan, just do it safely and don’t rush. I’ll definitely be heading up-north to see Equal Play in the winter and taking my little superstar with me.


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For the last week of February the Spark Conference took place and I really enjoyed it and actually love that it is online. Last year it was one of the last events I went to before Covid-19 became a thing, the speakers were great, the company brilliant (I spent a lot of the day with Dionne from Live & Local) and the lunch was fantastic. This year it’s been online everyday and I’ve been enjoying it from the sofa and loving that you can watch the talks back at anytime. I’ve taken part in The Pandemic & Brexit, Outdoor Arts and Place Making. I might go back and watch some of the digital talks next week.

I really enjoyed the Outdoor Arts talk. It reflected on how different arts organisations have overcome the challenges of the pandemic and had brilliant outdoor arts in 2020. Angus from Outdoor Arts UK began the session, he reflected on his visit to Greenwich & Docklands International Festival in summer which he visited by bike. It happen later in the year than usual and was ticketed (for free). Slits was a great way to have performance happen, the performers were 2m from the audience as they were 2m in the air! Chorus by Ray Lee was an installation that took place which is made up of tall light sculptures that support spinning arms that have red LED lights that orbit and deliver a sonic spectacle. I’ve never seen Ray Lee’s work but I would love to. For the installation simply less people were able to see it at one time. I think the towering scale of each sculpture would make people stand apart to be able to view them and take in their magnitude. Angus also spoke about a document that Outdoor Arts have put together about the road map out of lockdown, I will be giving this a good read later on.

Hannah Moore at the RSC spoke about the creation of and running their 2020 summer programme. They created a stage in the gardens close to the theatre and safe spaces for the audience that they created by spray painting hearts onto the ground for people to sit within. The hearts were inviting, pretty and self explanatory. Some were big and some were small to allow for different sized households and bubbles. They created a great atmosphere, as Hannah quite simply put it; celebrity – easy to access – entertaining. Her top tips are:

-Make it site specific and really know your space,
-Manage expectations of everyone involved including the audience,
-Set your sights and be realistic,
-Be honest with the audience,
-Create something joyful and bold,
-Let the audience know how to stay safe,
-Create a detailed risk assessments and share it with everyone.


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I want to talk to talk about an art trial that was in Coventry during October had term 2020, Coventry Monsters. Throughout the city where eight massive, inflatable monsters in bright colours and bold designs perched up high on buildings for the public to find and admire. The monsters were designed by artists, Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas and were organised by Coventry Council’s event team who are partners on this project.

I think the monsters were fantastic along with many other Coventry residents who got to enjoy them. In October we were in the ‘rule of six’ so I visited with my friends Jen, Rich and Jess and Jess’s mum and teenage son. We visited during the evening once it was dark. The great things that came to my mind immediately was firstly how intergenerational it was, Ben was the youngest in the group at 13 and Nula the oldest (I don’t want to ask her age, she is a lady who has many years of experience behind her). Secondly how well it fitted in with the rules of the time, all the monsters where on buildings that could be viewed from wide open spaces, we could keep 2 meters apart to enjoy them, we didn’t need to go into a venue to enjoy them. It was incredibly accessible as it was free and my friend Sarah pointed out that it was great that you could go at anytime. If you were trying to stay away from people and wanted to see the monsters you could go at 2am – I’d like to know if anyone did go at 2am for a bit of midnight art viewing! You could visit during the day and at night and see them from both perspectives of light and dark. My group was all grown ups, I know people who took their toddlers and young children to see them and they loved them too. The monsters were visually great, big, bold, bright colours in fun, playful designs. Each one was different and a joy to discover. We had a lot of fun that night.

I think they were probably great for the city too. It brought people into the city centre, people might have been tempted to get a take away after or buy a coffee to keep them toasty warm as they went round – I think Jen and Rich went for a drink and dinner after (it’s hard to remember the days that you could go to a pub!) It might have helped build peoples conference back up about going into the city centre after having a long time of not visiting. These are things I’ll have to ask Jon at the council. The monsters were on a trial, this got people walking and gave them some fresh air which is great for their mental health after being inside a lot. Perhaps following the map might have helped some of the children with their geography home work.

It created a great social media buzz, there was lots of pictures on my Instagram of the monsters by fellow Coventry artists and residents. It created a feeling of positivity during the pandemic and dark winter. That feeling of positivity is so important at the moment. As an artist I need to create work that makes people feel great, fills their spirits with happiness and takes their imagination far away from the pandemic.

The monsters has made me think about the distant that people view my work out. I usually invite and encourage the audience to get up close and personal with my work and each other. I had imagined even with not inviting people to touch the installation that comes out of this project that they would stand 2m away from it. The monsters where viewed meters and meters away, the scale and brightness of them allowed for this, at night they were lit up making them fun visuals in the night. The interactive element of the monsters was the trail, having to find all eight of them. I don’t feel overly inspired by trails, I’m more interested in the interaction being directly with the art work. I chatted this through with Jess, my critical friend and we thought a way to do this could be digitally. Could people use their phones to change something about the artwork? The audience could change the lighting and patterns on Janet Elechman’s 1.8 London in Oxford Circus which was part of Lumiere in 2016 (my second favourite light festival, my first favourite is Amsterdam Light Festival because you view it by boat). It could do something like that, let people effect the design, movement or sound of an installation. It could be done with sensors. I should play with these ideas when Lottie next decides to have a big sleep – I should get the tools ready for when the moment comes!


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