Very exciting things have been happening at the Bluecoat, my creative home as Blue Room Lead Facilitator. For the past seven weeks we have been hosting artist in residence Wendell McShine who was born in Trinidad and is based in Mexico. He has been working with our Blue Room group of adults with learning disabilities as well as groups of children and young people from the Norris Green area of Liverpool. Funded by the PCT and focused on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, the project has strived to 'connect' groups of people who would not ordinarily come together, and may be apprehensive about doing so, over shared creative activities.
Wendell shared with us his interest in folklore and carnival culture, helping the Blue Room groups to find their 'animal totems'. From these they created beautiful charcoal drawings and incredible 3D carnival masks embellished with found fabrics and jewels. Many of the pieces have been created in an intergenerational collaborative process. A highlight was 'Dream Week' when the children and young people spent their half-term week working together with Blue Room.
Inspired by the cardboard skyline of Liverpool the group had created as a way to welcome Wendell to the city, the multi-disciplinary artist worked with us to develop an animated film. The group's hand drawn and painted cardboard cars, people and buildings take the viewer on a vibrant city tour, uncovering connections between people and places. The groups even worked with musicians to record their own unique soundtrack and theme tune. The animation and documentary film of the project is still in progress and will be complete in a few months as Wendell continues to work on editing back in Mexico.
The project has been a wonderful experience for all who have taken part. At our opening event earlier this week, the response from visitors and families was overwhelmingly positive. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the project and am so proud of what the groups have achieved in just seven weeks. The exhibition Art:Connect Liverpool will be open to the public 10-6pm daily until 15th April 2012 at the Bluecoat.
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Recently, I've been teaming up with the brilliant Rubbish Revamped's Danielle Lowy to deliver some creative recycling sessions on behalf of the WEA as part of their Peripheral Vision project.
Held at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, two fantastic groups of adults got the chance to create adorable creatures from upcycled socks! Inspired by Donna Wilson's show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the participants explored pattern cutting, stitching techniques and stuffing their creatures with tactile waste materials such as old rice and pillow wadding.
The results were a wonderfully expressive bunch of creatures ranging from mice and bunnies to red squirrels and even mythical looking critters. It was great to see how much character can be invested in an old sock, simply by adding a couple of buttons for eyes and carefully positioned ears. Inspired, I've made these two little mice for my lovely Mum and Nana for Mother's Day!