Sunday, 14 August 2011

Second workshop at the Botanical Gardens

We knew that a few of our group would be attending appointments and might be delayed in arriving today, but weren't prepared for such a quiet start to this session. We started with two, and I realised that yesterdays success had much to do with organisations such as Steppin' Stones and the hostels facilitating by walking down to the gardens with participants. We rang the hostels to send messages to some of our participants and then waited expectantly.

By lunchtime we had eight people with us. We also had Susan from the University Museums Outreach team and she had a collection of interesting artefacts including shells, coral, snake skins and a 3000 year old vase for us to handle. We looked at these, contrasting the spirals and patterns in the shells with those we had seen in the garden. Susan brought cameras and a printer so we were able to document the objects for use in artworks.

In the afternoon we used a range of processes including felt-making, printing, 3D and drawing. The felt-makers responded to the intense and beautiful colours of the garden. It was lovely to watch this calm, meditative process of arranging and teasing out the wool, followed by the energetic massaging and rolling that completes the felting process. The results were very striking and all those involved seemed to enjoy the process.

Dennis worked in a characteristically experimental way with print-making. He created rich textures with the ink on a large piece of laminate, dampened the paper and took prints. This developed into working onto the laminate with wax to create a resist and then introducing colour.

Andy worked from a photograph of a leaf using wire to re-create the shape. He then used this to create some lovely repeat patterns that were reminiscent of 50's textiles. There is lots of scope to develop this.

Shaun worked on a large-scale drawing of lily pads. He made his initial drawing on transparency film and we used the overhead projector to scale it up. He has a bold drawing style and has interesting ideas about how to develop these further in colour. I'm looking forward to seeing how this work unfolds!

The day ended with time to reflect as a group on what we had achieved and it was great to have Jeremy with us to give some objective feedback and to tell us more about the Old Fire Station. One of our participants was concerned that the  materials being used in the building would make it feel cold. This is a valid concern as there will be lots of industrial materials; steel, brick and concrete.   Jeremy reassured us all that the spaces in the building will feel quite intimate and the original features will reveal the character and history of the buildings.


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