Sumfing won’t get up
Theatre maker Dominic Biddle and visual artists, Jacquie Campbell and Heidi McEvoy-Swift, are collaborating with children’s imaginations to create a theatre piece that speaks directly from the child.
We have designed and built a portable immersive space that children are invited into, to discover Sumfing. Sumfing is inside a big box that will not open.
Over the course of 50 minutes, the children discover and express what Sumfing might be, using word, sound, and making. Together we uncover Sumfing, personify Sumfing and empower Sumfing: A large-scale puppet. Finally, they send Sumfing on its way, through the door, altered by their responses, into the world.
Through this process the children will help us create a piece of theatre for Bury St Edmunds’ Once Upon a Festival.
Rojo Carnival: Character building
Family Day at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
How to take part
Turn up at the theatre anytime between 11am and 3pm and make your way to the Greene Room. We’ll be there to meet you.
Step One: Delve into our Lucky Dip to find ideas for your carnival character.
Step Two: Make your character mask with the help of our costume artists.
Step Three: Get into character, put on your mask and leave your autograph and unique hand drawing on the wall of fame. Don’t forget to pose for the paparazzi as you head towards the stage door.
Step Four: Make your way onto the theatre stage. Our dresser will help you find a costume to complete your look.
Step Five: You will be greeted by our carnival animateur who will help you develop your character’s own dance move. While you’re on stage, look for the appearance of your giant masked photo on the backdrop.
Then suddenly it’s carnival time! House lights dim; stage lights on; cue music, dancing and a carnival procession around the theatre.
Carnival processions will take place at 12, 1, 2 and 3pm. Arrive earlier to get ready.
I’ve been using the jigsaw this week to cut shapes from wood for something I’m working on. The scraps I collect from the floor are intriguing shapes that I could never repeat or plan.
Art club this half term has been about wood so I decided to take these processed wood pieces along to make some low reliefs. I gave the children narrow MDF surfaces to work onto and was impressed by the way they allowed their artwork to escape the confines of the page. The MDF was an unknown material and they were unsure whether to call it cardboard or wood.
They started by selecting pieces and arranging them to make birds and other forms, quickly accepting that the shapes could not be altered without a saw. They carefully sanded the edges then painted the background and shapes separately before gluing them together. Washers and bolts became eyes and wire was attached with a heavy duty stapler to create legs. I’d like to extend the woodwork element, perhaps next time introducing hammer and nails.
The tent is transformed into a library where old stories are revisited; new stories begin and a large collection of broken and unwanted books become the materials and inspiration for the making of individual artwork.
During the afternoon children from local primary schools are invited to visit the library and work with visual artists from Rojo Art and Joseph Coelho, a writer who always seeks new stories behind those ‘Happy ever afters’.
The children revisit local myths and memories with local storytellers and poets and prepare performances for later in the day. With the visual artists, the threads of these stories twist with a pile of forgotten books making new stories from old.
At Barrow Primary School today working on an Art Branches led arts and environment project. The Woodland Trust have sponsored Art Branches to run a competition and series of workshops that encourage people to connect to their local trees.
After an assembly to launch the competition we worked with years 3 and 4 using art techniques to look more closely and explore some ideas about winter twigs and bark.
I worked with some enthusiastic groups looking for and drawing the shapes and patterns in the negative spaces between bare winter birch twigs. The children looked at their drawings from all angles deciding whether they represented twigs and trees or whether they had taken on another form. We discussed the similarities between the twigs and other networks such as rivers, roots and veins of the circulatory system.
The drawings were coloured highlighting either the positive or negative spaces or in a way that reinforced the ideas the children wished to express.
At the end of the morning we left the school with a drawn record of all the twigs the children had identified
Black hole swallowing up solar system
Alien to alien communication
Today the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds launched their annual Children’s Festival and we teamed up with theatre educator David Whitney to offer some activities for local schools.
We’ve been developing ways to tell stories or investigate ideas through integrated performance and visual arts. Today we took short written excerpts from a play to be staged at the festival and worked with the children in fast moving activities that used freeze frames and drawing to imagine what happened before and after the event described.
On June 11th there will be a full day of visual arts activities and theatre exploration for families.
Storm Doris left us with a trail of winter twigs with early buds strewn across roads and gardens and plenty of ideas and materials for this terms art club.
Scroll observational drawing
Very long scroll drawing of twigs
Observational drawing and material exploration
We started with The Woodland Trust‘s winter twig ID sheet. The twigs were tricky to identify at this time of year but the close looking helped observational skills noting layout of buds, presence of catkins and, the children’s favourite, the stickiness of the horse chestnut bud.
I had prepared long scroll lengths of paper and supplied brush pens filled with diluted ink (a new tool for the children) and watercolour pencils and encouraged them to make observational drawings of the twigs using the length of the paper.
Some of the children used magnifying glasses for close looking identifying patterns and an array of colours within the bark and buds.
In the second session I brought short cut lengths of twigs that would be painted and become a material to use for 3D work the following week.
We started with some colour theory, mixing bright primary colours in acrylic then set to the painting. This simple painting task offered a calm time to talk about the relative vibrancy of colours, how the paint transformed the twigs (would we look at them differently) and what size and shape twigs would we need to make the 3D work.
As the children finished painting I asked them to look at the underlying paper: what shapes and images could they find; what happened if they turned their paper?
Figure, snake and waterslide found in the paint
Paint patterns emerging from activity
Bird flying out of discarded brush stroke
The following week I demonstrated joining the twigs with wire and talked about making a hanging or free standing structure. The children joined their twigs to create tree or birdcage like structures using the more pliant materials to create curves. I was very impressed by their achievements but photographing the delicate structures proved very tricky against the classroom backdrop.
We were invited to make art with the entire school of 220 students for a whole day this week. This is part of a week dedicated to art in the school so we were wanted to allow each child a day of making. Logistically it would be impossible to spend much time with each class so we decided to set up three activities that we would introduce in the classrooms and invite the children in small groups to draw on the background and gain an overview of the larger artwork taking shape on the wall.
The theme of an ‘enchanted forest’ was one of the school’s suggestions and we created a narrative for this by asking the children to imagine a forest growing out of thrown away plastic. We asked about the material starting a discussion about what plastic is and where does it go when we’ve finished with it. They worked with collected plastic milk containers cutting intricate patterns to create foliage. Next they studied characteristics of native birds seen around the school grounds and made preparatory sketches. In the last session we asked the children to imagine how these birds might adapt to their new surroundings and to create a bird for the installation a wide array of printed cardboard and junk mail that they had brought from home.
It was difficult to communicate collage techniques to this amount of children: some favoured small torn pieces of paper to create a texture while others could envisage images and patterns used in a new context. One of the youngest children recognised a large swirling camouflage print as a perfect beak for a ‘jungle bird’. The children that worked with the small pieces became frustrated with the slow progress and were happy to be encouraged to work with larger shapes or to focus on areas such as eyes or beak to let the image read as a bird. It’d be interesting to try this activity again in the small art club group.
The artwork was installed the same day against a backdrop of small drawn images of things that might be floating or flying in the forest air.
Something is growing out of Bury Sketchers and the Big Draw project which we can’t really define yet. It has the shape of an experimental space: people come and offer drawing activities that challenge the idea of drawing, others come and play vinyl and the majority turn up to draw. We reflect and change a few things after each event but we’re trying to not to plan too much and to see what emerges
Next event is on June 1st with a body and movement theme.