Today….. we’re a group of artists who spend a lot of time thinking about how people like to engage with the arts. Between us we have an array of visual art and theatre skills and we like to mix these up to offer unique and innovative arts workshops and encounters.
Tomorrow we might be something slightly different so keep checking…
Last September we learnt that Goldsmiths University would no longer be running our MA programme in Participatory Arts. As a group we agreed that we’d like to create a legacy for the course and also open up the debate about the nature of participatory artistic practice.
Last week we staged our event: a Dadaesque mock trial that accused artists, institutions, funders, critics and academia of delivering a version of participatory arts that is little more than an illusion.
Rather than describe the event in detail I’ve attached some links to key witness statements and reviews of the day. Please remember that this was an event that blurred the boundaries between life and art and approached serious debate in a playful way. Some witnesses were obliged to commit acts of treachery while giving evidence!
Review from Stephen Pritchard-Colouring in Culture
Stephen Pritchard’s statement for the Prosecution
David Slater’s (Entelechy Arts)-statement for the Prosecution
David Jubb’s (Battersea Arts Centre) -statement for the Defence
David Slater (Entelechy Arts) reaction to David Jubb’s speech
Follow Participatory Arts Lab on WordPress and @artsontrial on Twitter to keep up to date with the debate
Abbots Hall School asked us for a large mosaic artwork to be sited on the wall of a new lodge for Reception children. They are about to welcome Year 6’s into the school and wanted an artwork that celebrated the school family including guinea pigs, rescued racing pigeon, chickens and the neighbouring windmill. We worked with the children for three days enabling them to create the huge windmill and the detailed glass mosaics. This week we’ve started the installation process with a huge audience of spectators at break times. Grand opening is May 22nd so we’ll have more project photos by then.
Last week we were in a school making mosaics with children for the entire week. We’re always looking for ways to give children more creative decision making and control when using this process so I decided to explore some ideas with art club this term.
In this first session the children worked as a group to create their own colour wheel and think about colour mixing. They placed a selection of glass tiles where they felt they should sit on the colour wheel. Then, to think about the idea of contrast which is really important in mosaic, they took sheets of coloured paper and looked for tiles that really stood out against the background colour. Interestingly a lot of children automatically tried to match the colours so I probably need to think about how I explain the concept of contrast. As a group we talked about the colour choices.
The children used what they had learnt to plan some very simple mosaics which they’ll start work on next week.
Painting garden art with St Peter’s House residents
This was our last workshop session with the residents of St Peter’s House. In earlier sessions it had been decided to create a painted garden panel to give the garden some depth. Liz had drawn this up with ideas from the residents last week and today they loved watching her painting in the flowers. Some people painted leaves to enliven the railway sleeper at the front of the garden.
Afterwards Bury in Bloom visited to plan the planting around the artwork. We’re hoping for some lush shade loving plants.
This week the children used their printed bark textures from last week and combined them with collected oil pastel rubbed textures to create collaged landscapes. As they collected the textures the children soon realised that they would work well to represent the bare early spring landscape around their school.
Mosaics with St Peter’s House residents
Mosaics with St Peter’s House residents
After so many people enjoyed the mosaic session we decided to use this medium again. This time we gave each participant a large tile as a base and a plate of different textures and colours of mosaic tiles to work with. Most people immediately started arranging the tiles into very precise patterns and asked for colours as they needed them. One lady experimented further by stacking tiles on top of each other to create a relief pattern.
We were very pleased to have some gentlemen join us today and one of them very carefully cut tiles for us.
Liz started drawing up the panel for the back fence and attracted a few spectators enjoying watching the process. This session felt lively and stimulating and everyone enjoyed a visit from Bury Free Press, EADT and Bury in Bloom.
I’ve been trying to let the children lead my session planning more this term. Last week we enjoyed working with natural objects so this week I brought in some of the amazing lichen I’ve been finding in the forest this month. As they’d enjoyed working with colour last week I decided to introduce water colours this week. Some of the children used a mixed media approach combining the paint with charcoal and oil pastel.
Week 4 in St Peter’s and this week we wanted to explore painting with the residents. We also tried out a new location this week, overlooking the site where the art garden will be installed. The painting was kept simple using brushes and sponges to make decorative marks on bird boxes and pebbles for the garden. We were pleased that some of the participants took decisions on how to paint the bird boxes and enjoyed creating pattern, Other people enjoyed finding colours to represent the flowers on the table or the pattern in their clothes.
Painting for art garden with St Peter’s House residents
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.