Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Bishop's Hatfield Girls School - Gifted and Talented Summer School

More examples of the collages made by the pupils of  Bishop's Hatfield Girls School, Hatfield, Herts from last July. The work was essentially about exploring pattern and rhythm of architectural forms through paper cutting and collage techniques. Pupils started with a simple line drawing based on their photos that they had taken around Buckingham Palace the previous day. That line drawing formed the basis of their design. the pupils hadn't worked like this before. It seems simple but to be able to cut directly into paper and to arrange those elements together to get a design to balance requires lots of skills. There is an immediacy to cutting paper that is liberating and scary too for young people. Some were able to be freer and draw with their scissors, whilst other used their drawings more as a template to work from. All students were amazed at the quality of the work produced that day and were able to think about and experience pattern making in different and challenging way. I loved the day. The staff were simply wonderful to work with and the girls were fantastic also.It was a great experience for me too.

Bishop's Hatfield Girls School - Summer school for G&T

These photos are the work produced at a summer school I ran in July 2009 at Bishop's Hatfield Girls School in Hatfield, Herts. The workshop day was part of a week long Gifted and Talented programme of events in which pupils explored the idea of "London- a city of contrasts".  The previous day to the workshop, the girls has visited Buckingham Palace. They gathered many photos of architectural details from which to base their paper cuts and collages that they would be developing with me. The girls involved ranged from Yr10's up to Year 12's.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

More photos of Mr. Winters Vanishing

A brief description of the story....Mr. Winter, feeling unloved and unappreciated decides not to visit this year. this causes havoc.... Mr Autumn cant go home, the swifts of the air cant return to the warmth of Africa... even Father Christmas cant visit and so stockings hang empty at the chimneys and  there are no twinkling bells of the reindeer. A small boy looks out of his bedroom window sees the north star and decides to get his friends to make lots of beautiful kites to show Mr. Winter just how much he is missed and longed for. Mr. Winter sees how he is missed, comes back and the winter can soon come and be celebrated with the falling snow and the joyous arrival of Father Christmas!

Here are some more photos of Mr. Winters Vanishing - the shadow play.

Mr. Winter's House

Mr. Winter is so sad and feels unloved

Tim looks out of his room and thinks of a plan

The North Star appears
The swifts are kept flying in the air

Mr. Winters Vanishing - shadow play at Howgills, Letchworth Garden City

Before the magical day starts....

Forty children, two artists and a composer - me, James Mayhew and Rebecca Leek - black paper, scissors, a strong light and shadows made - all mixed up with carols, music and a beautifully poetic story "Mr. Winter Vanishing" by French illustrator and writer Quitterie de Castelbajac. This was a Rhapsode event of making a play in a day to celebrate the winter Solstice. The day was Solstice day 2009.

We started the day off with simple tools - scissors and paper along with some beautiful specially written songs by Rebecca and let the day organically, creatively grow and form to result in a performance at the end of the day!   It was a truly magical experience. I have always wanted to use paper cutting to use shadows. Its a natural development of them. As soon as you hold them in your hands and see the delicacy of them and the way the light plays behind and through them - it makes them even more transitory. Their actual being seems transitory - easily broken, fragile and yet tangible. That why I think they are so beautiful when they are expressing love and thought and longings.

Howgills interior

This experience in part was out of my comfort zone. I am oddly schizophrenic... I love being with people and out in the world - but truthfully I am never happier that when I am completely alone and working in silence so I can hear the rumble of the traffic and the sound of the wind in the trees. I love the solitude. And its very meditative what I do. The cutting can be repetitive and soothing too. I like knowing what I am doing and seeing the cut appear before me.

I haven’t ever really been part of any performances. I did school plays of course... but was always one of the chorus, or hidden away somehere. I was horse mad - so riding was my thing.That too of course is off on your own or with a group, but essentially you are just in your own head.

So Solstice was many things I am not used to, even though a big part of my personality is stepping off the metaphorical cliff. You have to as an artist - people can tell if you are a phoney or if something isnt genuine. I really loved the whole experience. We were all in it together - developing our ideas, seeing what worked and what didnt. And all the individual parts grew to a beautiful whole. There was a great sense of community and togetherness and knowing that the children involved would really remember the day!

I wont ever forget it, and it makes me want to do lots more...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

More paper prayers...

My Norfolk sky prayer.

Karolina Stolarska's prayer.

Jo's prayer.

Karen's prayer.

Central Methodist Church congregation prayers (above and below)

Paper prayers....

Monday, 23 August 2010

Archive - "People, Paper, Prayers" - exhibiton of paper cut prayers 2009

The “People, Paper, Prayers – the Thank You Project” at Central Methodist Church in Letchworth in 2009, grew out of the architectural cut exhibition at First Garden City Heritage Museum. David and Anita Latter (senior members of Central Methodist church) came to see the exhibition on one of the days I was demonstrating. We got chatting animatedly - I had always liked Anita very much, and David too, but it was Anita that I knew from years ago when I took my son and daughter as babies to the Central Methodist Church Tea and Toddlers group. Anita was so friendly there and I was in awe of her commitment to the group by weekly preparing arty/crafty activities for the toddlers and mums to do. It took her a lot of time to prepare the components, to come up with new ideas etc and she did that every week. I admired her faith and generosity of spirit.

Anyway, we got talking. Laughed over times past and children now in teenagerdom (me) and hers in new homes and babies eras. I said that I had always wanted to make some paper pieces for a church. I had made textiles for churches before, but never had my cuts hung in that kind of space. I had tried at St. Hugh’s but they had bought a large icon for the refurbishment and my quirky paper cuts were just too much of a jump I think. It was interesting what I learnt then, let’s just say it lead me to really ask what I believe and who I am.

Back to the Anita/David talk. They were really interested in the idea of hanging the cuts in the church. It needed to be discussed with the main members of the church of course and happily the go ahead was given. I think it helped that the paper cuts are so light. They only need hanging with fishing wire and are very light, needing a drawing pin at most to hang from. We thought the Heritage Open Days Weekend would be a good focus for the event. It was very exciting for me... to see at last my cuts hanging free in a church. I couldn’t wait. I then spent a very large part of August cutting text in the studio in the early morning and the quiet times after the evening meal when the kids were happy to have some telly time.

The Thanksgiving theme...leading to a bit of a crisis of faith....

We needed a theme to work to too. I know I couldn’t make thirty unique prayers and besides I wanted to involve the parish. I wanted to be able to serve the parish, using my hands and skills to make their thoughts and prayers real and valued. David’s idea was to have thank you prayers and that fitted perfectly. I emailed friends for prayers, prayers came anonymously too from the congregation as well as very personal ones that moved me hugely. It was much harder than I thought. Look at most prayers and the content is plea based, asking God for something: help, guidance, company, healing or words that allowed inner individual pain to be expressed. This was different, this was saying thank you for what we have been given in our lives. I wanted to say thank you for my children and my family, for the elements – but it set me on a whole struggle that I am in now. Do I believe that God made me? Made the world? Made the trees and the birds of the air? I am not sure. I don’t know. Evolution makes a lot more sense and I know that Adam and Eve are essentially allegorical. I think perhaps that there is an ultimate creative force in the world from which all good comes. I know directly from experience that more good makes more good, whilst evilness and selfishness will always seek to destroy in many small and large ways. I find it terribly hard too grasp that that ultimate creative force became a man and lived on earth. For me it’s a human way of explaining the mysteries that our brains are just too small to understand.

I think you can say I am having a fundamental think about things, a crisis of faith in part. I certainly know that I am not a tow-the-line Catholic. I know there is something/someone calling me. It keeps happening. I walk away and I get called back and back again. This beatles song makes me think of being called again and again and its always when I feel lost.

I will shortly post the prayers I cut and hung in the church. It was a fantastic weekend and I got the chance to meet some really lovely people too. I will always be grateful top the church for showing my work, inviting me into a place that is so precious to them. It was a lovely, lovely experience.

Paper, Scissors, Stone - exhibition papercuts...

Here are some of the photos of the work and the show...

Norton Way House, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Town Lodge,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Snooker Hall,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Mrs.Howard Memorial Hall, Letchworth Garden City, Herts,

Liberal Catholc Chuch,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Letchworth Library,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Icknield Way House,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Hillshott School,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Broadway Cinema,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Arial Letchworth,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Anne Muir House,The Quadrant,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

The museum window with a decal of my Broadway Cinema detail.