Friday, 22 May 2009

New work for Artmummy

Lots of exciting new work coming through - in particular I've just started a Creative Partnerships project working with another artist Adrian Spencer at the Castle School in Donnington, which is a special needs school. We're working on ideas around sequencing and communication, and Adrian's skills in animation and video are really helpful with that. Our first session was totally in at the deep end - we had talked about having an introductory session with teaching assistants and carers only but it turned out we had the whole class! We arrived a few minutes late and it was straight in - start delivering NOW, and given that we've never worked together before that was fairly challenging.... we devised a session broadly based on the idea of facial expressions communicating feelings, and then used digital images of the children miming the expresssions, recorded them saying the words and also wrote down the words. First bit of learning - the teachers are less interested in writing than verbal and visual communication, so we'll focus more on that in future sessions - mainly I think the children find writing very difficult and that can slow down the pace a lot. Second bit of learning is not to try to achieve too much in one morning - no way we could put all the material together into a single film whilst on site, and how to engage teachers in the technology when there's only one laptop to work from?
Next time hoping to do a playground chalk drawing as an animation - but will pace ourselves more and also have to do some benchmarking using video cameras - so that will take up a lot of time as well. So enjoying the children though, the atmosphere in the class room is fantastic and the enthusiasm from everyone is really infectious - I feel we might achieve something really exciting together!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Snowed off...

Thanks to a shed load of snow last night, and previously Monday night, lots of work cancelled this week....and beginning to feel I can see the wood for the trees, thanks to the chance to do a bit more desk work. Loads of rescheduling to organise now though with schools and artists - really complicated to fix but never mind. Have been feeding the birds vigilantly in the cold weather and as a result the area in front of the kitchen window has become a feeding frenzy....moorhens hang out under the feeder all day waiting for seeds to fall, the ducks keep standing in the bowl of water to sink the icefloe and gobble all the bits that float up. On the feeders greenfinches, goldfinches and today bullfinches too have been competing for space. Robins chasing each other round the garden and we have one wagtail who has taken up residence. The flock of long tail tits arrive daily, nibbling at the fat balls like little pink feathered piranhas - and one has no tail at all but has survived so far very well. Will try to catch a photo of him - 'no tail' as we call him. Expecting a load more snow tonight and kind of looking forward to it now, its like life just slowed down as the week is going on. No traffic, less email and phone calls.....I'm liking it!

Monday, 13 October 2008

World Mental Health Day 10/10/08

Friday was a magical sunny day for World Mental Health Day. artmummy was helping out with a small group of artist's recruited to make temporary interventions and activities for visitors and service users to enjoy.
Alun Ward's 'Transporter Mix' invited people to be imaginatively transported through sound and texture (underfoot) to the beach or forest.
Michael Harris's ' Knead Comfort' asked visitors to release the stress by working a small piece of clay to create something positive, for firing and glazing later. The finished work will be returned for display at the hospital.
Helen Jacob's 'Bookshelf' showed people how to make delicate sheets of paper which she bound into hand made books for display.
Rachel Barbaresi made an intervention, 'Betwixt & Between', using huge lengths of red fabric to entwine and connect the trees in a celebrator banner.

It was a really joyful day with lots of service users being brought off wards to take part - people were smiling all day and the weather was an unexpected gift.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

stories without words

Did a painting workshop today with mainly 8 year olds for a summer school. It was nerve wracking for more than one reason - I've never run a workshop with such young children (I was actually relieved that the class for 5 yr olds was cancelled!), and I also don't really feel qualified to 'teach' painting....even to children. I thought we'd start off with the colour wheel, but managed to refer to secondary colours as tertiary and then the teacher had to point out that I'd cocked it up already and I'd only just started. An early set back but after that to be fair I think it went really well - the kids were very sweet, really focussed especially considering at 8 you wouldn't often paint for 5 hours on the trot. Right at the end of the day they went a bit mad painting each other but the very last painting that came out of that is brilliant. They all shared their stories and paintings at the end - I've made a slide show of the paintings and the captions tell their stories. Sad that after all that I came away feeling pretty disappointed - not with the kids, but with the arrangement - I didn't get paid (although JR did yesterday for the same deal so what's with my cheque?), and the school still owes my for the CP work which is months ago. It felt like MC was holding out on me and it kind of spoilt the day a bit.

Had nice chat to M and JR when I got back and the liked the work. They've been over to have tea with Steve Hurst - they had a lovely time and all three totally loving talking wall to wall sculpture techniques! M getting more confident now about the Portugal commission which is great.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

strange fruit..

Last night we were out in the garden measuring out the site for our new studio (watch this space). In the background I could hear a very distinct crunching sound - and round the back of the herb garden, where the green pepper plant is growing, we found Poppy the cocker spaniel with a vegetable obsession, ripping peppers off the plant and then carefully nibbling at them with her front teeth. She'd finished one and was on her second by then - they are still really tiny (about 2" long) but she was doing a pretty delicate job of eating round the seeds in the centre. Just the latest in a long line of fruit and veg obsessions....her favourites are carrots, tomatoes, strawberries off the plant, cucumber and now green peppers. So we fenced them off and wait to see what colditz like tactics are employed to get at the goods...

I was letting out Amy's chickens this morning, and one chuck was sitting on the nest box - they always lay in the same nest box and she was sitting on top of the eggs. I had to lift her off to get the extra warm eggies out! It reminded me of the time we were in Somerset at Lizzies when she had chickens. She was slightly concerned to see Poppy in amongst the chickens in case she tried to catch one. No need - not our dog. She squeezed her way into the chicken house and chased all the chickens out so she could eat the eggs in peace and quiet.

Meat has less appeal to her than say cheese for instance. I once caught her standing on the dining room table, with a huge wedge of parmesan cheese jammed between her back teeth trying desperately to swallow it whole before I could get to her - she's been obsessed with even the tiniest cheese grating that drifts to the floor ever since. Strange fruit indeed.....

Monday, 4 August 2008

Summerzet & mowing

Back from a top weekend in Somerset, marred only by my agonising shoulder injury which is still keeping me awake at night. Had an inspired moment on the phone to my mum last night when we realised that its probably been caused by the pull cord on the mower - its like a running battle between me and the mower, trying to pull hard enough to get it to sputter into life. The guys in the shop keep telling me now easy it is, but maybe my arms aren't as long as theirs? Third or fourth try I start yelling 'start you *******!!', which I find helps as it often starts at that point. But since you only get two laps of the lawn before you have to empty the stupid grass box, the whole maddening sequence has to be repeated about 15 times every time I mow the lawn. My mum suggested that what I need is a man (she meant a gardener but M took it to be a sideways dig at him...) or alternatively a mower with an electric starter - like she said in the first place of course.

So, agonising shoulder pain aside, we had a lovely time with my god daughter, my best friend and their ever expanding family. J. is easily 6'4" now, 17 and starting to look very manly indeed - all sideburns and tight vests to highlight his biceps. Looks like a Jean Paul Gaultier ad, although of course that's not actually the look he's going for! Everyone else on top form, lovely bbq lunch (beef skirt was fab) and M thankfully feeling 100% better now - so drove me and injured shoulder home last night.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Crazy Day

Had a crazy but really brilliant day, making paper and willow sculptures at the youth club in the outskirts of Oxford with a group of young people with learning difficulties. They were brilliant fun - the noise level at 10am had to be experienced to be believed. Two massive sound systems playing totally different music full on at the same time, whilst one young man who likes DJ'ing urged us all to get on the dance floor.... bit surreal at that time of day. In between gluing paper, tearing tape and bending willow, Jono danced to bangra music and came last in a three man bungee cord race! The kids even made their own pizzas for lunch. The whole atmosphere was really supportive. With only an hour to go someone had the idea we could make a parasol (as in the Parasol project for learning disabled young people), so it was a race against the clock to get it made by the 3pm deadline.... so glad it all came together.
Early this morning I also took some photos of Portmeadow from Wolvercote - so flat there that the sky seems really big. Will now have a go at making my first slide show of todays activities...