This week we took along mosaic tiles in a range of colours that the participants had said that they liked most in the garden. We gave each person a plate of mixed colours and surface textures and spent a while just chatting about how they looked and felt and how we might use then to make art.
Because the glue for outdoor mosaic work is not particularly kind to the skin we suggested that people could just lay out the tiles without fixing then we would photograph them to replicate with stronger materials. They laid out the tiles following the lines of cardboard templates based on the shapes they had cut last week.
The materials and process seemed very accessible and most people were very keen to handle the tiles and take creative decisions over the layout. Other participants enjoyed looking at finished mosaics we brought along and joining in the conversation about the garden plans.
It was our first art club after half term with quite a few new faces. I decided to start with some drawing to loosen up and took in some spectacular frilled tulips from the market.
We started with some blind contour drawing to slowly look at the shapes of the flowers then tried some looser drawing with charcoal. As the main activity each child worked on a piece of paper as long as themselves and created huge oil pastel drawings of their flowers. This involved quite a lot of logistical planning for them as they had to work out how to draw right to the top of the paper.
I was impressed how the children returned to their drawings to add extra colour details in the flower heads noting where the colours changed and blended.
This week we encouraged the group to think about shapes of flowers. These would be used to inform the cut shapes for mosaics and metal flowers for the outdoor garden. Initially we let people handle the fresh flowers for inspiration but it was interesting that we soon found ideas closer to home such as the poppies on one lady’s tapestry and the woven flower design in the curtains. We all enjoyed seeing these aerial views of the flowers taken on my phone so next week we’ll be taking along the ipad so that people can see their artwork without having to stand up.
For the next six weeks we are making art with the residents of St Peter’s House most of whom have moderate to late stage dementia. This work is funded by the Arts Council and David Nettleton’s Suffolk County Councillor locality budget.
We are aiming to create an art garden with added gardening support from the Bury in Bloom Senior Green Fingers initiative. Along the way we hope to explore the artistic process in a really open-ended way so we can personalise the experience for each individual we’re working with. This is also a learning experience for us as artists and at St Peter’s we have had excellent guidance from occupational therapist, Gill Bosely.
This week we wanted to introduce ourselves and the idea of creating a garden and to find out what the residents enjoy about gardens. We brought along a range of garden resources concentrating on actual objects that could be handled rather than images.
It seemed that people were as interested in garden wildlife as plants and there were a few stories told about garden visitors. We encouraged people to choose something from the table that was interesting to them and to use the materials on the table try out some drawing or collaging in response to that item. As demonstrated by the images below many people were fascinated by the gerbera flower and enjoyed close looking and discussion of the shapes, colours and textures. One lady was absorbed by the bright yellow reverse side of the orange petals.
We found drawing alongside, helping people to start making marks and using an object as a template or for rubbing texture were successful ways to engage with the activity.
It was the last of four art club sessions for Norton children this week as well. They’ve worked on the same project as Lawshall so its been interesting to see different ways in which they interpret the idea and explore the materials.
It’s been good to watch the children find creative ways to overcome the difficulty of handling the natural materials. In some cases this meant holding someone else’s nest together while they fixed it with wire and in other cases some excellent collaborative artwork.
After building nest structures from willow and dogwood last week it was now time to weave a home for the birds. The children thought about what their individual birds might need and how they incorporate any suitable materials to hand.
These nests were lined and woven with a huge variety of natural materials but also some manmade additions such as net Satsuma bags.
This week one of the children created a baby bird from a milk bottle top and this idea inspired many more versions.
Many of the nests were exhibited hanging like cocoons. Using natural materials to create form led to fascinating organic shapes which initially frustrated some of the children. After thinking about the untidiness of the real bird’s nest that we’d handled and the images of the artists’ nests that had also been our inspiration they realised the potential of the materials. If there had been another week available it would have been interesting to move on to abstract sculpture using the same materials.
I apologise for the lack of photos as the ipad was rather temperamental tonight.
In the stark winter landscape garden birds are suddenly very visible and the children at Lawshall have some interesting garden visitors including spotted woodpeckers and barn owls.
As a starting point for the four sessions the children are creating bird sculptures using foam board and wire. They spent time working out how to make their sculpture balance on the spindly supports and ensuring their bird could be viewed from any angle. We have spent two weeks on this activity so that some of the children have been able to develop the techniques learnt in another artwork.
Next week we’ll be making nests and we ended today looking at some fantastical artist created nests and equally impressive ones made by birds. We discussed how a bird might want its nest to be and the materials it might use.
I asked the children to start sketching nest ideas for their birds and interestingly they exhibited these with their birds when their parents arrived, that was an unexpected outcome!
The last of our four weeks about the changing seasonal landscape around the village. This week we extended the activity of drawing and layering winter branches. Each child worked drawing into a white box creating a background of bare branches. I was pleased to see them experimenting with some different types of mark making after last week. They then used 3d materials to construct a forest and perhaps some passing wildlife. I enjoyed some of the conversations that cropped up around the activity such as local horses being spooked by starling murmurations and a discussion over the use of the word ‘sapling’.
At the end of the session the children used torches to light their forests and took the photos below.
Art club has been pretty busy the last couple of weeks and I sadly haven’t managed to photograph any art work. We’ve been thinking about seasonal changes in the local countryside using week 1 to make the most of the last autumn leaves with a printing project. Week 2, I adapted a project from Access Art which encouraged the children to take risks with their drawing. Using varied mark making and media they created some weather related narratives.
Today we focussed on bare branches drawing with twigs, ink and pens on different transparencies of paper. The children assembled their drawings into layered artworks to try to give the feel of looking into the bare bones of a winter forest.
Anyone out and about around The Apex in the town centre yesterday was invited to visit our pop up outdoor Sketching Station. Participants were encouraged to think about, remember or imagine a particular place in the town that is special to them. This special place could be indoors or outdoors, past, present or future. A selection of black pens was available with a variety of whitewashed cardboard boxes to draw on. All the surfaces of the boxes were used with some fascinated panoramas to be discovered hidden away on the insides.
At the end of the event the boxes were constructed into a shared artwork and exhibited in the window of the Apex.
It was fascinating to see themes emerging in the chosen places and drawings. Many people depicted the flint work of the abbey ruins and buildings around Bury with many of the children drawing the patterns within this in great detail.
This project was initiated by our urban sketchers group which seeks to explore the town through drawing. Through the Big Draw event local people questioned what connected them to the town and also Charter Square as a social space for getting together and drawing.