Wednesday 30 May 2012

Illuminate - Looking at Language & Light

Priory Lower School have been awarded an ACE grant for a special project called Illuminate and I'm happy to say that I'll be working on this project too. My first project day was spent with Year 4 looking at the 28 ways of saying Welcome, as expressed by all the languages spoken in the school. We shared the words, tried saying them, talked about languages and words from other languages we knew. Our task was to create lanterns that could be part of the school's International day later in June, we discussed what Illumination and to illuminate meant and used a variety of stamp alphabets to apply the words to strips of paper. 

We could have printed the text out from a computer but there is something so much more personal about pressing letters into ink and the onto paper. I demonstrated how to make a sphere from paper strips, I also showed a couple of individuals who then went on to help others, creating a lovely atmosphere of making and doing in the room. When the spheres were complete we added the paper tails with their word of welcome and threaded the lanterns onto a rope of fairy lights.

Our task in the afternoon was to create a different type of lantern, using a large shaped punch I made windows in the paper lantern bases which the children filled with coloured tissue paper to simulate stained glass, they wrote their 'welcome' words on the waste shapes (which look a bit like t-shirts) and suspended them under the lantern body using paper clips.

The children were invited to 'illuminate' the paper printout words, some worked in pairs, some looked for a word in their own language, others looked for words from languages that they had learnt in school. By the end of the afternoon everyone was smiling, sharing words, helping each other and felt they had learnt new skills and new words. I am looking forward to exploring illuminated letters / words with the children further on in the project.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Building Without Hope

This poor building is the Methodist Church in Higham Ferrers which was built in 1902 / 03 by architect Thomas Dyer, over the years I have watched it fall further and further into disrepair. I can never understand why empty buildings have their windows smashed and I would have loved to see these ones from the inside, with the light shining through them. I made some enquiries but sadly the building is now in such a dangerous state that it is impossible to view the interior and apparently everything that could be stripped out has been stripped by those that prey upon empty buildings. The former congregation now worship in Rushden and have been caught in a difficult situation. They tried over the course of many years to raise the funds to have the necessary repairs made to this church and now it is too late. Apparently they hope to sell their church in Rushden which will release the funds to demolish the Higham Ferrers church building. The site will be used to build a modern, multipurpose place of worship which will also have spaces for community use.

Plans for demolition were first agreed in 2004 and there seems to be an artists impression of what the proposed replacement church building might look like on the Making Hope A Certainty website

There are some interesting facts about the Methodist Circuit and the plans for the new church which was recorded on the Rushden Research website in 2007.

You can read an article by The Victorian Society about the demolition plans and the controversy it raised in 2008 by following the link

There is an entry in the Directory of British Architects for Thomas Dyer 1872 - 1908 born in Wiltshire but resident in Northampton in the 1900's

Residency and Rent - Some Recent Work in Schools


During the winter term I worked with Year 3 at Priory Lower School in Bedford, our theme was outer space . The children imagined their own universe and each child created an A4 wet felted panel depicting planets and stars.

The following week we read Ted Hughes The Iron Giant and tried to imagine the planet the giant might have come from. We also used this as a means of exploring ink and wax resists and wax crayons on a heavy weight paper.

In the Spring Term we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and each child made a paper collage of the caterpillar and one of the things he might have eaten. The following week the children made a picture of the butterfly that the caterpillar later became. Very few of the children adopted the principle of symmetry when creating their butterflies!

During the Winter Term I also worked with Year 2 who were studying Patchwork and this gave us the opportunity to explore, pattern, design and repetition. As the children would be working on actual fabric with another facilitator we decided to work with paper. Each child was given a paper master of a traditional patchwork block and then had to follow the pattern and apply papers of different colours. 


Each child made a second paper patch using decoupage papers and paper punches, they also added 'stitches' using marker pens.

Year 2 also made woven paper patchwork blocks, using two different patterned wallpapers. After the individual squares were woven the children helped me to add a machine stitched pattern on top.

As part of the agreement I have with Beanfield Primary School, Corby (where I currently have a studio) I worked with children in different year groups on art projects that complimented their Science Week activities. Children from several years experimented with moving images, making thaumatropes, zoetropes and flip books.

Year 1 explored oil and water resists whilst marbling paper plates and cut out birds which were later used by older children to create wind sculptures.

The image above shows the plan for a mosaic at Oakley Vale Primary School in Corby. The design was a distillation of images and ideas from drawings made by children in each class.

I was artist in residence for six days and during that time every child in every class came and helped to apply the tiles. The image above gives an idea of the stages the work went through to reach the finished piece.

 The work has now been installed on the front of the building.

Here is the completed mosaic in more detail.

This mosiac designed and made by children at the Arran Way Community Centre

Friday 11 May 2012

The Chronicle Project Artwork

24 hours. 1,440 minutes. Or 86,400 seconds.
The Chronicle Project challenged artists to document a single day in their lives and share it with the Art House Co Op community. I had to sign up and choose to create a visual record, describe a day in narrative form or depict my path as a chart or map and limit my focus to a single 24-hour span. Participants were asked to keep track of something specific, like every sound heard, or attempt to capture an overall impression of a day. The only restriction was that the work had to fold down to a size of 4" x 6". The Chronicle needed to be postmarked no later than May 15th and Art House Co Op will be staging an exhibition of the resulting chronicles in the Brooklyn Art Library, in order to collapse 1,000 unique days into one.

I am flying very close to the wire, I've spent the week planning work, writing applications and trying to make some time to make some work. It's now late in the day and tomorrow we're off to explore Derbyshire. I am supposed to be relaxed, I am supposed to have packed, I am the boring woman who keeps peering up from the computer to say "yep, nearly finished, I just have to do one more thing". This goes on for hours and by 3am there is no one awake but me and I'm just about running with regular infusions of liquorice tea. 

Work changes as you make it, I had planned to use arial views of four significant locations visited during my chronicled 24 hours but in the end I just used one from Kidsgrove as the visit there was the true heart of the day. The image below contains words, numbers and images which not only sum up the kind of 24 hours it had been but capture the feelings I'm having during the making process, Whirl being the most significant! I had intended to use this image to cover the whole of one side of the paper but then got myself in a stew about the toners sticking to each other and the image losing definition once folded. 

I then decided to make it smaller put it on one quarter of the page. Because the moon is hiding inside two of the images I went back to a diagram of Newtons Law and gravity as the pull of family is very strong. There are two diagrams and each has 12 small circular digital images representing an hour. These were taken from an earlier complete image called Love. I'm not totally satisfied with the paper or the surface, I would have preferred to output it on a watercolour paper, but time and ink supplies were against me. 

I do like it when it is folded. It's a bit like a coded diary that could be carried in a pocket, kept close and pondered about. I enjoy the scientific diagrammatic look as well. If you found it on a street, would you wonder what it meant? 

Because some parts are upside down when unfolded I sent two versions, one that reads the right way up when opened out. Friday morning packing bags, whirling round, trying to relax, artwork and applications in the post, me in the car and off to Derbyshire!

Sunday 6 May 2012

The Art House Co Op Chronicle Project - The Day

The Art House Co Op Chronicle Project - recording my chosen 24 hours. Initially I thought I would I choose the Miles & Dacombe Light Walk day at Sywell Country Park as we would be taking lots of photographs and making a map. But then it seemed a bit lazy to record the event twice so I decided to chronicle the 24 hours from 12 pm May 4th - 12 pm May 5th. May 5th saw us making a day trip to see relatives in Stoke-on-Trent. I noted down times and events but not thoughts or emotions to use as the starting point for my Chronicle artwork.

Chronicle in notes and images
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 23:00 to 01:30

Continue sleeping
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 01:30 to 02:00
Still sleeping
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 02:00 to 03:00

Dog wants to look at the moon
(it may not be this exact moon)

scheduled 5 May 2012 from 03:00 to 03:30
waiting for dog to finish moonlight garden ramble 
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 03:30 to 04:00
back to bed
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 04:00 to 04:30
Check email on phone
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 04:30 to 05:00
Check Twitter & Facebook
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 05:00 to 05:30
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 05:30 to 06:30
Wake, bathroom, coffee, bed, internet
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 06:30 to 07:30
Feed dog
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 07:30 to 08:00
Shower, wash hair, dress, assemble gifts
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 08:00 to 09:15
Drop dog off at parents house
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 09:15 to 09:45
Join A14 - I am the passenger
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 09:45 to 10:15
Reading The Pleasures of English Food, watching cloud
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 10:15 to 11:00
A50 Services before derby Turn off. Coffee. 
Magazine. Buy miniature Rosebush
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 11:00 to 11:30
Rejoin A50 heading for Stoke-on-Trent
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 11:30 to 12:15
Passing Britainnia Stadium - 
ring Andrew's parents to explain late arrival 
of fish and chip lunch
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 12:15 to 12:45

Packmoor - David's Chip Shop. 
Cat on a lead on a wall. 
view of Mow Cop from Chip Shop window.
 Millenium Breathing space garden and Millennium Throne
(artist on the project Phil Hardaker)
Finches and sparrows investigate plants
and perch on satellite cables. 
Explore remains of terraced street life. Breath in. scheduled 5 May 2012 from 12:45 to 13:30
Arrive at the inlaws to have lunch scheduled 5 May 2012 from 13:30 to 14:15
The rest of the boyz arrive
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 14:15 to 15:00
Talking in the back room
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 15:00 to 15:30
take family snaps, say goodbyes
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 15:30 to 16:15
Visit Trentham Gardens - shopping, eat pie, buy new lime green shoes in the sale
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 16:15 to 17:00

Leave Stoke head out to A50. As I am not 
driving I read the Pleasures of Engish Food again which is strangely engrossing
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 17:00 to 17:30
Stop at A50 services to stretch legs, have a break
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 17:30 to 18:00
Rejoin A50 heading home
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 18:00 to 18:30
Join M1 road getting pretty busy
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 18:30 to 19:00
Join A14
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 18:45 to 19:15
Collect Charlie Whippet from my parents. 
Have tea and chat about the day.
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 19:15 to 19:45
Arrive home, unpack, check emails, 
make coffee, download photos
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 19:45 to 20:30
Make food
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 20:30 to 21:00
Watch back to back episodes of The Bridge
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 21:00 to 23:00
Watch unremarkable TV programmes
scheduled 5 May 2012 from 23:00 to 23:30
scheduled for 5 May 2012 at 23:45 to 6 May 2012 at 00:45