Showing posts with label collaborative art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collaborative art. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2015 - 2016 Catch Up (Part 1)

Sadly ignored for too many months, I am now returning to mull over and savour the many  wonderful outcomes of 2015 with a view to building something equally satisfying and surprising on their foundations ...

It is now obvious that when life gets busy blogging hasn't been my greatest strength.  FB and Flickr no problem. I think that possibly my feeling that a degree of analysis and more detailed explanation is needed has led to a snowballing effect, which has left me with a  mountain of things to show and say, creating a blockage that obviously needs to be flushed away with the beginning of a new year.

I will therefore purge myself with a cross section of the tastiest delights from a memorable year that involved working with many wonderful people.  Thought I might group things together unexpectedly to bring some new order of enlightenment but seem to be trying to make things more difficult before I even start!  It might be best to just begin wherever the feeling takes me and end when I have nothing more to show or say. Could take all year or just a few posts with a sprinkling of detail where absolutely necessary ....

Lets start with a joyous video of the Garratt Park School students enjoying the music section of Balham Library, preparing for our first 'Out of Place' iPad session early last year ...

.. and then maybe Pocklington Arts Group having a round of applause for libraries directed by film maker Stephanie Webber.  Can't help but love them!

Some wonderful iPad drawings by Sally Booth ...


Bill from Pocklington pacing words to stairs and the beautiful voice of his wife.

Handprint Theatre working with children from Oak Lodge School at Balham library.

And maybe finally from Balham a video by Tahmina, a year 11 student from Oak Lodge School capturing the sound and movement of our first visit to the library (when it was closed to the public), working with musician Antonio Testa exploring the space through rhythm.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Finding an Equal Footing

Last year I was awarded a 'New Collaborations' bursary by a-n, the Artist's Information Company, to research the process of establishing a truly equal partnership between a non disabled and learning disabled artist.  I worked alongside Arts Manager Sheryll Catto, also co-director of the learning disability arts organisation Action Space, visiting five of their London studio projects to find an artist who might be willing to work in partnership with me.  I have now posted this article (across 6 posts) on a-n's 'Artist Talking' blogsite, documenting this process, including a day in ACAVA's Blenchynden Street studio working alongside artist Linda Bell.  This research project hopes to lead onto a collaborative project late 2014, early 2015.

'There are many issues that need to be considered when attempting to build a truly equal collaborative partnership, from taking the first steps in initiating the collaboration through to formulating it’s aims and outcomes.'

'Linda Bell is an artist who I had worked with briefly a number of years ago, standing in temporarily as an artist tutor for the South London Studio Project.   Her artwork uses repeated forms, often set within a grid like structure.  She enjoys interacting with her work, especially if it has an element of movement, very much relating to my own work.' 


 'While I in no way wanted to plan the collaborative day, it was important that the space was visually exciting, with materials laid out or assembled in a way that reflected their potential, encouraging interaction.' 

 'I wanted to avoid feeling as though we needed to create a finished, quality artwork that in some way validated the process.  This was an opportunity to focus primarily on the way in which we could interact, each of our choices and actions ‘leading’ the other.'

 'There was a good sense of energy in the studio as the sculptures were taking form, with Linda and I working alongside each other, at times standing back to admire our collaborative efforts.'

'Each collaboration is of course unique in it’s own right. The experience and skills of the individuals involved, and the environment they inhabit, both socially and creatively will influence the process of initiating a working partnership.'

 'After a little encouragement, Linda obviously enjoyed throwing the wool into the frame, finishing the day off weaving materials in and around the large square structure.  It had felt like a lovely way to round off the day, with smiles all round, having both enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of our collaborative journey together.'

'Collaboration opens up a new and exciting potential, introducing an element of risk.  It creates an unknown chemistry that can breath life into the creative process.  I felt that my experience of working with Linda touched upon the very essence of this dynamic process.'

Supported by a bursary from a-n 
The Artist Information Company

Thursday, 20 March 2014

heART of libraries - Video Clips

Here are three short videos, one from each of the interactive barcode exhibitions at Wandsworth Town, Earlsfield and Tooting libraries as part of the heART of libraries pilot project.  Library users need a smartphone (old ones may not work!) to read the microsoft tag barcodes which are either overlaid or placed next to a series of artworks developed by three local groups.  The aim of the project was to provide 'taster' workshops, focusing on a selection of books, using ipads and art to create an interactive trail, allowing library users to experience the space in a new way.

This pilot project aims to lead onto a series of public art installations and events across Wandsworth, bringing local people together to celebrate libraries today, giving vision to the libraries of tomorrow.


download free app
to read the barcodes above

Wandsworth Asian Women's Association
Wandsworth Town Library, March - April 2014 


Autistic Resource Base, Garratt Park School
Earlsfield Library, March - April 2014

South London Tamil Welfare Group and Tooting Tamil Reading Group
Tooting Library, March - April 2014

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

heART of libraries - Garratt Park School Taster Workshops

Download microsoft tag app to read Khang's sample barcode!
The heART of libraries project was launched in November with the first of a series of taster  workshops using art and new technology to focus on books, choosing a selection both from familiar and less known sections of the local library.  The project aimed to encourage participants to explore the library space in new ways, using ipads to document their choice of books, creating artworks inspired by images within the books.  The workshops will lead onto a temporary trail around the library in Feb 2014 using personalised microsoft tag codes to reveal a 'hidden' display of work by each of the participants.

The first two workshops were based at Earlsfield Library working with the Transitions class of the Autistic Resource Base at Garratt Park School.  As a local special school school that uses the library on a regular basis, it was felt that this would be an ideal group of seven 15 - 16 year olds to work with, already familiar with the library surroundings while limited in their use of the libraries resources.  The young people make weekly visits, mainly staying within the children's library, selecting picture books to read from.  It was felt that there was a potential to look more closely at the resources available within the adult library, while also documenting their use of the children's library.

The first workshop introduced the ipads,  using the photography, video and drawing applications to document and respond to a selected picture book.  The group were then taken on a (fairly random!) spotty trail around the adult library to discover subject areas that related to their interests.  Spots spread everywhere as the young people (and staff) enjoyed the slightly anarchic freedom of this activity.  It was about having fun, making the process of venturing into slightly unknown territory more welcoming.  While the connection to the spotty barcodes had not been emphasised much at this stage to provide an obvious link between the ipads and spotty trail, leaving one participant wondering why we were doing this, it was successful in adding an element of freedom, empowering the young people while introducing some of them to a new selection of books.  The group were taken back into the adult library on their next visit to look at and choose more items (videos, magazines, books) to use in the second workshop.

The random spotty trail was left in the library for library users and staff to experience, raising questions and the occasional concern, in terms of it's slightly subversive nature.  I believe that it was a great way to gage the impact of possible future temporary installations within this environment, highlighting the different perceptions/expectations of staff in the children's and adult libraries, as well as library users.  It certainly caught people's attention and got them talking, which will hopefully be a lovely link leading onto the temporary spotty barcode trail in February 2014.

The second workshop really became another two workshops, one in the school developing artworks working from books and photocopies that the group did in the library, and the last finishing back in the library, digitally adding to these artworks and selecting music from itunes.  The young people were also able to see a slide show of their own work by scanning individual spotty tag barcodes.  This visual experience was the only effective way of conveying the bar code process and was really enjoyed by the young people, who scanned their own barcodes repeatedly to view their slide show.  

Probably the most successful aspect of the workshops was the drawing element, which engaged all members of the group very effectively, giving them a good scope of choice both in terms of subject selection as well as materials and processes.  The layering of the artworks with spots, photocopies and then lastly with digital drawing over the top of photographs of the artworks, was an exciting process, producing really interesting results. The young people seemed to be very proud of their achievements at the end of the session and were keen to do more work with the ipads.

A big thankyou to new technologies consultant, Chris Nash and children's librarian, Sophie Brownell for all their support in delivering these workshops.  Initial feedback from the school support staff has been very positive,  keen to use the ipads again within the library context saying that they thought the 'ipads are motivating for children with special needs'.  One staff member felt that 'they also enjoyed looking at books and choosing images for their work.'

Comments received also show the importance of working closely with staff, building a greater understanding of creative methods of approach so that benefits can be better gauged - 'the children did not benefit a lot from the sessions due to their autism although they seemed to have lots of fun.' 

Thanush 'enjoyed dots', 'playing the ipad' and 'drawing and sticking'.

Khang said that 'youtube film is so fun' and that he 'enjoyed drawing Japanese words'.

Joseph said, 'Dingle Dangle Scarecrow made me happy.' 
(when searching youtube for music for slide show)

Yahye said that he 'liked taking weird photos of everyone'.

The remaining four taster workshops next January will be based at Tooting and WandsworthTown Libraries working with South London Tamil Welfare Group and Mantle Court Asian Women's group, led by new technologies consultant Chris Nash (with ipads from the City Learning Centre) and Transition Town Tooting artists Charles Whitehead and Jeni Walker (and of course me ...)   The temporary barcode trails will be installed in each of the three libraries in February.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The heART of Libraries

‘The heART of Libraries’ is a Wandsworth based project using art, craft and new technology to explore our relationship to the library environment, bringing a new perspective to familiar surroundings. Taster workshops in 2013 will lead onto a program of community art workshops next year, working towards a series of temporary installations and events, bringing local people together to celebrate libraries today, giving vision to the libraries of tomorrow.

'Cover to Cover' will launch the project with a series of taster workshops engaging three local community groups, working in collaboration with local artists Charles Whitehead and Jeni Walker (Transition Town Tooting) and new technologies consultant Chris Nash.

smartphone tag trail revealing the hidden stories of library life

The barcode is a very traditional way for libraries to access information about books.  These workshops will teach participants how to use the latest barcode technology (Microsoft Tag), using ipads to make sound recordings and slide shows inspired by their individual choice of books.  A trail of customised barcodes will be developed by each group, using photography and fabrics to create multi-layered artworks, inspired by the recorded information behind each code.  Library users will be invited to discover this unique interactive trail, searching for hidden codes that will unlock the true character of our local libraries.

To download the free smartphone app search for ‘Microsoft tag’
Funded by a Wandsworth ARTS GRANT

Thursday, 4 July 2013

SENSE 'WEAVING WORLDS' EXHIBITION at Kentish Town Health Centre, May 2013

The deafblind charity, Sense, recently  held their 'Weaving Worlds' exhibition at the Free Space Gallery in Kentish Town Health Centre, a RIBA Award Winning building opened in 2009. Having worked with staff from children's services over the last year to develop this project, engaging families from across the UK, this exhibition aimed to encourage users of the building to interact with many of the artworks, creating randomly woven, tactile panels, contrasting the clean cut graphics of the interior space.

The project started with a staff training workshop, trying out a variety of materials and different methods of weaving.  I liked the idea of capturing the social aspect of weaving, videoing close ups of  hands weaving while recording the discussions that were taking place between staff members.  It was later agreed that recording families talking might be a little too intrusive and personal. A slow motion video of hands weaving (without sound) was shown in the reception of Kentish Town HC during the exhibition, with some of the stills used in the larger woven panels.

The knobbly panels were created in response to some feedback from a member of staff at the Anne Wall Centre in Barnet.  She thought that this form of weaving would be easier for the disabled children with limited manual dexterity.  

I love the uniformity of the panels contrasting the random positioning of the recycled lids.  Very typical of my multi-panel work, with a really fun element of interaction that was popular with staff and the waiting public. 

These panels also had the wonderful capacity to be re-used after the exhibition, 
providing a weaving activity for deafblind children and adults at the Anne Wall Centre.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

STEP BEYOND School Workshops

In the last few weeks I have been working with Year 4 children from Earlsfield and Beatrix Potter Primary Schools, creating word artworks on the theme of 'aspirational journeys'.  As mentioned previously, this project is leading up to the STEP BEYOND temporary public art trail in Earlsfield which will be part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival and Fringe in May.  

Collaborating with the very talented writer Sarah Butler (who recently published her first novel 'Ten Things I've Learnt About Love'), this project has brought together creative writing and mixed media art, taking a fresh perspective on words, while considering their relationship to space.   

Following an introductory workshop looking at word artworks in public spaces by a range of artists, experimenting with font design and stenciling, the children were encouraged to think about aspirations, for themselves, for the world and for others.  

They developed their ideas into a series of poems that included 'My Aspiration to be a Paleontologist', 'The Ice Cream Adventure' and 'If Everyone was Happy'.

Using a range of different materials suitable for outside including letter based toys from Fara charity shop and Sugar Bay Blue gift shop in Earlsfield, they then went on to construct their own word artworks for each school playground.  

Activities have also included chalking selected phrases and creating short films documenting their work.  In the last series of workshops they created temporary food artworks and collages using fast food packaging for two of the trail venues.

This has been a great experience for me, both in terms of working in my local area on a project that I have devised myself, and as an exciting opportunity to work alongside a writer.  While I believe art should be all about breaking down perceived barriers, interdisciplinary projects such as this provide a unique opportunity to make learning a truly exciting experience.  The real world is not divided into subjects with a sliding scale of accomplishment.  As one boy said, it has taught him:

' You don't have to be good at art to be good at art'.  

While I don't want to do myself out of a job - how right he is!