Projects and Preoccupations is an updated title. I started this blog as an experiment: an alternative to a studio, a gathering space for ideas and images to help with consistency and fluidity in my work. Three years on..I’m still finding this useful as its proving to be a record of my projects and preoccupations in making.
studioless but still collecting started in 2008 I realised that despite adversity I still manage to find creativity..
I have just got a studio at Coachwerks in Brighton. This blog was started when I gave up my last studio due to full time employment (as an art technician), so this feels momentous!
I started to move in while preparing for Small World and I have now got to a stage where 90% of my art stuff is there. It has been a massive sifting and shifting process! I literally had every nook in my house bursting with materials and equipment, sketchbooks, books, paper, ideas. It felt like the walls were closing in (my bedroom had started to resemble a skip) and now (hooray!) that is over.
So having a studio has a double benefit. One, I have reclaimed my house, cleansed my bedroom, made more space for living in.
Two, I have all my art equipment organised and accessible, with space to make things, muse and leave work in progress out to return to. The last point is crucial; this feels like big transition; to be able to follow through with ideas in a space without interruption.
When packing I found about six books with half started projects in them. This was exciting! No dreadful blank first pages; ideas I still like; waiting to be explored.
So I returned to my diver.
I have found lots of synchronicity in the pages and images I have been sorting through. I want to use my next few visits here (in the virtual) and there (in the studio) to examine some of the projects and preoccupations as points of departure.
I set up Room for Imagination (an artists collective) a couple of years ago to pool skills with other creatives in order to take on commisions and create installations and workshops at various festivals. At Small World Spring Festival this year, we ran bird making and print making workshops in the childrens area, in a yurt which became our literal ‘Room for Imagination.’
My aim during this festival was to encourage children and adults to help us fill the yurt with birds, so it became a temporary aviary. The birds would then disperse or ‘fly’ to new homes once the festival had ended.
I wanted to create an environment where both adults and children were creatively stimulated; where people had a choice about how they approached the project, yet felt they contributed to the space as a whole.
We had whole families getting involved; working alongside each other at different levels; some people that were confident about their abilities and experimented widely with the materials available, others that were keen to start off with templates and gradually made the work their own by adapting the design or making choices about colour and pattern. It was really encouraging to find that some people kept returning to take on a new challenge; that ideas were shared and embellished as the space grew.
My intention was also to use these workshops as a testing space for a schools project that I have been mulling over. The experience was helpful in identifying how best to introduce the project, how to overcome some of the difficulties in making and how to promote independent and exciting responces across a whole spectrum of abilities, characters and ages.
Images from take home Circus Project B – Acrobat Mobile – at an infant school in Brighton (see previous post for further info).
My recent work at an infant school in Brighton:
As a visiting artist for Arts Week I ran workshops for four year 2 classes. Each class created a wire circus inspired by Alexander Calder’s circus.
These workshops included-
a short presentation of my own work to introduce myself
a discussion of Calder’s work looking at the inventive ways he had used materials
Continuous line drawing exercises to help transition into working with wire
Some practical demonstrations to show wire techniques
Ongoing support and feedback as pupils were making.
Collaborating with two other arts professionals; we designed two take-home projects relating to the theme ‘Circus’. Every child in the school received a circus pack with one of the two projects. The projects were voluntary and the children had just over a week to do it. The outcomes were then put together as part of the end of Arts week finale in the main hall.
Project A: Strong Man Columns; Children drew a strong person onto a template and then these drawings were amalgamated to create free standing columns.
Project B: Acrobat Mobile;
Children looked at Matisse’s cut outs and created their own acrobat figures onto card using shapes cut out of brightly coloured gum paper. We then connected the acrobats together and suspended them from the ceiling as a mobile.