Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

More creative news to come in the New Year, quite a number of my projects will reach completion in January so I look forward to telling you all about them...

...until then, I have added ways you can subscribe to my blog or share posts on social media, which you will find listed on the left hand side or at the bottom of this post (if you are looking at this on a normal web browser view).  So do sign up so you can receive my news directly.

Bye for now!  And thanks for reading.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The shape of a walk

The shapes of walks can be beautiful.

If you draw a simple line as a map of the walk you have taken, each walk has its shape and the shape has a character.

An urban walk will look very different from a rural walk.

An old city pattern will look different from a newer city structure.

When I worked in California as part of the artists' group CoLab, we worked at a place called Weedpatch.  One of the first things I did before leaving England to visit Weedpatch was to draw a map of the Bakersfield area from the satellite photograph.  This was my first impression of Bakersfield, knowing very little of it before we went, and the squares seemed so strange to me, being used to the more random networks of ancient roads around which the UK has developed.  The grid system of towns in the USA only started to make sense after a few weeks of driving around that town, and trying to relate that experience to the grid map I had first drawn.

Here is the shape of the walk we are creating for Sidelong.  A circular urban walk in Nottingham.  A much older structure of streets and pathways:  short detours of small cobbled walkways mixed with stretches of longer, straighter arterial routes.

I can't remember lists of instructions, like when you ask somebody for directions.  When I go to a place unfamiliar to me, which happens very often with the number of site visits I do for various projects, I have to draw a simplified version of the route as a line like this, something which I can then remember as a visual image.  As I find my route, all I have to do is follow that visual line in my mind's eye.  It seems to work, somehow, I don't get lost that often!

I love the first lines drawn when creating a map.  The linear quality which begin to suggest contours, structures to navigate around, movement through a space, without location or any indication of features.  The line just represents the abstract movement of the body through space.
Preliminary sketch for one of the Myth Maps

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Working with sound

Continuing my work with young people at New Walk Museum, we've been putting together a sound track to accompany the World Arts exhibition.

Putting on headphones and listening to evocative sounds can really transport you to another world in your imagination.  Our aim at New Walk is to add to the visual experience of looking at the exhibits by introducing other sensory experiences, so the sound track will be one of those elements.

This doesn't work like a traditional audio guide that you find in museums.  The group and I want to create something more exciting and unusual.  There will be no factual information given in our sound track.  We've looked really closely at the objects on display and created sounds that relate to what you see, and we hope that when people listen to those sounds they will also have to search with their eyes to find the object in the display case that could be making that sound.

I really enjoy working with sound and experimenting with new ways to use it.  At Nottingham Contemporary I work with a group called the Navigators, an amazing and creative group of visually impaired people who have been working with me for over a year.  We have come up with an idea for creating an unusual audio guide for the Contemporary and we're just looking for funding now to see if we can make this happen next year.  We also started a new film project this week... but I'll tell you more about that another time!

And watch out for my Sound Sculpture workshop coming up in the New Year - on the weekend of the 7th and 8th January at Nottingham Contemporary - open to all ages so come along and have some fun making your own creations to add to the cacophony that will fill the big Space!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

connections connections

Working with young people this week at Nottingham and Leicester.

I do a lot of workshops about connections.  It corresponds to my interest in mapping and curating, as well as helping people to make sense of contemporary art and exhibitions in their own ways by drawing their own connections to exhibits.

Followers of this blog will remember my previous post about the current Nottingham exhibition I'm working with and my group at Leicester's New Walk Museum (see Working with Objects).  So here's an update on how things have progressed!

In Nottingham I have started working with teachers and students from Djanogly Academy.  First we visited the Klaus Weber exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary.  Weber's show includes two rooms filled with objects he has brought together from museums, galleries and other artists.  By placing the items all together he draws visual and thematic connections between the objects, thus revealing some of his interests as an artist.

We challenged the students to try to draw connections between every object in the exhibition.  Quite a challenge as there are around 200 objects!  But through that process, the students began to recognise some of the themes contained in the exhibition:  nature and man, systems, biology and machinery.

messages in bottles, maps, treasure hunts, signs...
Back at the school, we then planned how their connections might be presented as artworks themselves.
...washing line, bread crumbs trail, orienteering...

Ideas ranged from collection boxes, a series of signs, a washing line and even a hopscotch game!  The students will be working on these ideas up until Christmas.

In Leicester I made a start working with my group of young people on making resource packs for visitors to New Walk Museum.  We decided we wanted to create multi-sensory packs that would expand the experience of visitors from the purely visual experience of looking at exhibits.

choosing textures
We have started putting together a book of textures.  The book will challenge visitors to make connections between the feel of the texture in the book and the exhibits in the museum.  We'll explore some of the other senses in the next few weeks.