Friday, 26 August 2011

Our last day at the Botanical Gardens

After spending five beautiful days in glorious sunshine at the gardens, on our final day it poured all day. Plans to do a group activity of making large scale tracings of dappled sunlight under the trees went out of the window. Instead we headed to the Arid house to draw cacti and dream of sunshine.

Emma set the group lots of tasks for making quick drawings in our sketchbooks, from continuous line and negative space to looking at a small area in close detail. Making observational drawings in this way enabled us to see plants afresh and make new discoveries as well as developing our drawing skills.

Emma and I have been working on the final designs for the artwork in the last few days, and we found it helpful to look at the arrangement of plants in the arrid house. We have been playing with repeating motifs, by changing scale and rotation and creating a feeling of 'scatter' in their placement. We could see something similar by looking at the arrangements of the cacti with larger and older plants surrounded by smaller specimens.

We returned to the education room for lunch and were joined by Karyn, the senior tutor from Crisis, who wanted to introduce herself to our group and find out what people would like from the skylight centre. We had an interesting discussion and found out about the wide range of interests and abilities in our group, from knitting and yoga to banjo and social psychology. Crisis will be working closely with local colleges to bring in tutors or send students to their courses. They will also run a wide range of day and evening courses. Taster sessions will take place in October and the courses will start in November. On the subject of courses, Lucy spoke to the Foundation Course tutor at a local college. They are fully booked for this year, but if anyone drops out she has a place. All on the strength of her project sketchbook. Well done Lucy!

It was our turn to get feedback on our artwork. We were able to show the group our initial ideas and designs for the atrium wall at the Old Fire Station. We could show the process of developing designs, from making tracings of their drawings and then how we have worked with them on the computer by repeating motifs, layering images and playing with scale and spatial relationships. There were affirming nods and positive responses. There is more work to do, but the group seem happy with our designs so far.

And finally it was time to say goodbye. It has been lovely working together with this group and we will miss our workshops at the Botanical Gardens. Hopefully we'll see everyone at the opening ceremony of the Old Fire Station. Each participant left with a venus fly-trap from the Botanical Gardens as a memento of the project.

Emma and I want to say a big 'Thank you' to the Botanical Gardens for hosting us for these workshops. Working creatively in such a beautiful and tranquil place has been good for us all as well as providing fabulous source material and inspiration.  We're also very grateful to the University Museums Outreach team for bringing us a range of interesting objects to draw and photograph.


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