Monday, 8 August 2011

First workshop at the Botanical Gardens

After all the planning and four taster sessions we've finally started the workshops and we will begin to see the project and the art work take shape

Emma and I had no idea how many and who to expect at the workshop today, but were delighted to see so many of the people we have worked with over the last six weeks arrive at the Botanical Gardens.

The education room quickly filled up, and exceeded capacity with 16 participants, 3 support workers and 3 workshop leaders. There was a buzz and feeling of expectation, as well as a little nervousness and uncertainty.

Some of the participants hadn't attended taster sessions and didn't know quite what to expect, so we recapped on the aims of the project before wandering around the garden to discover the spaces and plant life of the Botanical Gardens.

It was interesting to see people orienting towards the areas which most interested them, ranging from a fascination with venus fly-traps and communing with fish in the pools, to the discovery of a beautiful colour and observing the shape ("like the backbone of a fish") of an unusual variety of Euphorbia. We heard and saw some wonderful reactions to the gardens, including someone who said "I had no idea this place existed, I thought it was just a place for snobs. I am going to buy a season ticket!". At one point I'd lost track of a few members of the group and wandered off to find them. I found one individual gazing into the pool with the giant lily pads. Another young man was practically jumping up and down with excitement as he'd discovered so many interesting plants that he knew about from watching 'The discovery channel' as a young boy.

 We had a delicious picnic lunch provided by Donnington Doorstep with tasty sandwiches and heavenly scones with cream and jam. After this we got back to work and went off into the gardens again armed with sketchbooks and cameras.

Tomorrow we plan to work from this material using felting, 3D (modroc, wire, mesh etc.) and more drawing and painting.


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