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...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Zombie cow

Phew! Busy day with client in Oxford, along with four delightful artists and one really arrogant annoying egotistical mouthy one.....there's always one as they say, and at least he has to drive about 6 hours home now so maybe there is a God and there'll be freak snow and he'll have to sleep in the car with no dinner....

Have exciting pictures to post of my lovely friends who came to stay at the weekend, also cows - the bovine variety, who are our near neighbour's. One has come out in the picture with really scary eyes, like a zombie cow lurking in the background. The camera never lies and there are no other logical explanations.

M. ill with throat infection. Its all very dull here - can't wait for him to get better. Will also post the pictures of M with a bird on his arm - quite literally, a tame jay being fed in our very own backgarden.
Adios amigos.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lovely hot day

Its heavenly outside - all warm breezes and hot sunshine. So rare. Don't feel I want to be on the computer at all but some needs must - just a bit of desk work to justify the lolling outside later!
M. has just been accepted for a sculpture commission in Portugal! Very exciting - his first professional commission for a public work. And it has to be made in public over two weeks. Its a tricky one though - the acceptance has come so late, that now planning for four weeks time is really difficult. He has to get off work, and he won't go unless I can go with him, so that's a trick to rearrange my work for the beginning of September.....don't know if it can be done yet. But hope so. He's got some great ideas and I know he can do it, but he'll be so scared that he'll probably find any reason not to go. Not just art but art in a foreign language.....aaaahhhh!
Ate logo, amigos.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

I'm making postcards for Woodstock's Around the World - an exhibition my friend Martyn Brown is putting together for Art in Woodstock. I know he's had loads of cards on the vaguest theme of Woodstock from all over the world....but curiously none from Woodstock in Oxfordshire where the exhibition will be held. SO - I'm hard at it, making postcard interventions along the lines of my earlier series based on postcards of the Madonna titled 'Iconoclasm (Madonna & Child)'.

The first two are done - an aerial image and the other a four image composition of the Palace and gardens from different angles. Interestingly you can only select from four postcards on sale in the Post Office, where I'm told they are forbidden to offer a wider selection since the Palace have very tight control over images - which are otherwise only sold in the official visitor shop. Which you can only visit if you've paid the exorbitant entrance fee of £16.50 - even the 2,100 acres of parkland costs £9.50 to walk around. So a typical example of an English 17th C land grab - the whole lot were a gift to the Duke of Marlborough for giving the French a thrashing. And now its a world heritage site - so forever preserved for the few who can afford it, in the great tradition.

weird neighbours

My strange neighbour L. is always hanging around outside my office window, usually just smoking and trying to listen in. Today she's pruning a bush right outside - very slowly with hand shears. Snip, snip, snip. Its weird how territorial it makes you feel. I want to open the window and shout 'get off my house and stop touching my bush'......

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

First time out!

ok - its a first! artmummy meets the blogging world..... here we go.
I'm hoping to use this as a place to chat about the world of arts consultants and my role as a Creative Agent - bit like a Secret Agent only for the world of creativity! Will explain as we go I think.
I'm going to talk out loud about my own artistic practice as well, as a place to contemplate that particularly introspective navel.
I hope that other artists, creative practitioners and creative agents will join in the chat but since I'm new to all this I don't even know how it works yet.
So- hello world......