Recent work

I’ve started working with two more schools over the last two weeks, and Claire and I ran our second joint workshop too. This one went much better, and was more focussed.
One of the most valuable things about this residency has been the challenges of working with different groups and coming up with new things. Working with Claire has been really inspiring – and we have just put together a joint proposal for a local project. I hope we will be able to do lots more. It’s so interesting working with someone else who has a completely different approach and methods.

I was relieved and delighted that my first sessions with Holy Trinity school and Bilston Primary School went really well. With Holy Trinity we are making a large felt banner which we will decorate with recycled materials in circular patterns. In the first session I introduced all the ideas, talked about felt making and about designing circular patterns. We collected motifs from the gallery and had a go at making circular patterns using them. They have continued this back in school. We then had a very rapid felt-making practice, where they each made a small piece of felt. It all overran a bit, and there was a mad dash to get all the felt rinsed and ready for them to take away with them! But they loved it. They worked intensively for one and a half hours without any thoughts of a break, the loo or lunch, even though we overran into their usual lunchtime! A grand success. Day two with them was just as much fun – we made a HUGE piece of felt between two old curtains on the workshop floor, and pressed it like wine – lots of stamping, lots of foam and LOTS of fun. I was running about mopping up the wet floor so none of them went flying, and forgot to take any pictures of this fantastic scene.

The felt itself has come out rather stringy and holey, mainly because we had to use a coarser wool than is ideal, and we didn’t really have time to finish it. Having said that, the process of it all, making it entirely themselves and doing something new, exciting and creative is what matters.

I’ve only had one session of three with the other school, but again it went really well and I was inspired and amazed by the creativity and enthusiasm of these kids. We are working on a large mobile decorated with fabric sculptures. Each child will make one or two sculptures and we will arrange them on a big plastic hoop to hang from the ceiling. We started the session looking at colour theory – grouping colours, contrasting colours, names for colours, shades and tones. I want them to work out how we will arrange the scultpures according to colour, so we worked on some ideas of dark to light, rainbow, groups of colours etc. We were just working with scraps of fabric for this bit, and I think it was quite hard for them to work out how it might look, so I’ll come back to this once we have made all the sculptures. The second part of the session was making sculptures out of paper. I just gave them all a rectangle of newspaper and set them folding and rolling and curling. Some really fantastic ideas came out from this, and I could see some potentially amazing fabric pieces coming from these ideas alone. I was really inspired by the work that came from this very simple exercise and was tempted to make the sculpture out of paper instead! This week we’ll work with fabric to come up with more ideas and explore how fabric behaves differently to paper. Then we can start making our sculptures out of recycled fabrics. In the last session we’ll finish off the sculptures and put together our mobile. That part is going to be an engineering challenge – trying to make it balance. It’s a while since I did that kind of science / maths, so it will be a learning curve for me too!

This has all been very good food for thought for me, while I think about the direction my teaching work will go in. I’ll discuss this more over here.

As for my own work – that’s coming together too at last – with open studio this weekend and the exhbition opening in a couple of weeks, it’s just as well!

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