I took a fortnight off from my PhD at the end of June to complete some work for a children’s festival here in Warrnambool. It’s Australia’s largest kids festival and runs for eight days, Fun 4 Kids. This project was a great way to test out program design and installation approaches. I designed the space as a children’s craft space that would only use paper based products- no pipe cleaners or lil’ foam balls in sight!! Using this combination of coloured paper and reclaimed cardboard children were able to make an array of creatures including mini beasts and “day tree creatures”. Children were invited to help us populate the tree over and over the course of each day a unique and colourful ecosystem would appear- this was so much fun!
The craft programs were easy to adapt to different abilities and ages. One of the most beautiful things for me to watch was the way these craft activities worked to generate some great interactions between parents and children. It really was satisfying to watch.
The CreaTree is a sculptural tree designed to have a curtain sandwiched between it to create two spaces: the well lit Day Tree space and the Dream Tree Space, a dark space with UV Light. I constructed the tree using 17mm Ply Board and I have described it as “Becky’s version if Ikea”- it all flat packs down so it can fit into the back of our 4WD. The tree blots into a heavy steal base which I had made locally. The rest of the tree slots together using dowel joints- I am pretty proud of this sculpture, I worked my toshie off on it and it is quite beautiful. The black plastic in these photos is awful! I have made a really nice, deep blue curtain ready for the CreaTree’s next incarnation- the CreaTree concept lends itself to adaptable programing and I am looking forward to the next series!
Well For Life – COME SIT A WHILE WITH ME…
This program was initiated by Warrnambool City Council and the F Project and was delivered by my dear friend and favourite collaborator, Julie Poi Kelly & me. The brief was to provide participants who have experienced brain injury with positive social connections and recognition of their rich life stories and contributions to our community.
“Come sit a while with me…” emerged
On Friday afternoons through February, March and April 2014 we gathered around a long table at the Archie Graham Centre in Warrnambool with seven (mostly) mature aged participants and their carers. Different techniques for making artworks were explored and individual visual languages developed. Each artist generously shared photographs and stories revealing the unique histories that have helped to bring them to this table. The goal was for each participant to create eight autobiographical artworks that would become the pages of their own “life story book”. This goal was reached through stellar performances! Julie and I then undertook the process of collating each artist’s work into a single, 60 page hard cover printed book.
The final page of each story includes a picture of each participant on their favorite chair. This acts as an aesthetic marker of their personality and also provides a common position for audience members to engage- we all have a favorite spot to sit after all.
This project culminated at the Artery Gallery in an installation designed as a series of small living rooms each embracing a participant’s autobiographical art book. This installation was to unfold in the Ozone Walk as a part of the Hidden Histories Laneway Festival but early May rain sent us inside! I must give due credit to Julie- as I was recovering from surgery the task fell on her to curate our borrowed furniture, and she did a wonderful job! The space felt warm and personal. The Artery reported on the show’s popularity and how common it was for gallery visitors to spend time reading through each book.
Our busy Friday workshops together always finished with a cuppa and Julie & I always left feeling positive. It was been an incredible privilege to get to know this cast of characters- we have been moved by the stories shared, opening for us worlds within time, affirming the priceless value of relationships with loved ones and the breathtaking power of human resilience.
Taking the time to sit a while with these stories allows you to imagine the worlds they reveal and the strong spirits who live within them…
Above are links to two Warrnambool Standard Articles about this beautiful project 🙂
I have been working in conjunction with students from Hawkesdale College on a project initiated by the Youth Council (run through the Moyne Shire). My involvement in this project began in May. I have been busy designing, constructing & mosaicking since…. Each week students from the college have contributed to the production in a number of ways, in the past few weeks they have finally been able to join in the laying of tiles as well.
There are four panels in total that will make up the finished artwork. The image above is of the largest one (click to enlarge)… so far things are looking good 🙂
I have been developing the Kitchen Table Art Expedition with Macarthur Primary School for about two years. Last December we were successful in our bid to be one of Arts Victoria’s 18 Artist In Schools Project. After much anticipation we began our project in early May this term. The project involves students from grades 4, 5, & 6 of Macarthur Primary which is a tiny primary school in the country town of Macarthur. It is a beautiful school with a great sense of community, bright students and great teachers- I have been having a blast working with them each Thursday.
The Kitchen Table Art Expedition is HUGE! (Getting it off to a good start has taken a lot of time hence this belated post!). We use Colonial Artist Eugene von Guerard as our conceptual starting point, his understanding and explorations of Australia’s ecology provide a great metaphor for our examination of interconnectivity.
The project works on the theme of “parts into the whole” and is fittingly made up of four sub-projects that will culminate in our final event in September. The sub-projects are:
The Light Chamber Observatory, a sensory tunnel being built at the school’s kitchen garden with the help of Macarthur’s Mens Shed. It will combine recycled materials with a coloured Perspex roof and the students artwork.
Notes from the Field This is a video Project wherein the explorer students examine their environments through film.
Gaia is Symbiosis as seen from Earth This is an amazing project where we attach a video camera to a helium filled weather balloon and launch it into the stratosphere- we the retrieve it with the help of a parachute and a GPS
Gesamtkunstkwerk We are borrowing this German term to describe our multi-artform extravagant finale. We will combine a kitchen garden feast with the premiere of the expedition films, the unveiling of Light Chamber Observatory, ephemeral sculptures and an exhibition of the student artwork….
The students have been divided into three Expedition Parties, each exploring a theme of Light, Space or Earth. Each group rotates through five week long programs in the different mediums of Painting & Drawing, Sculpture & Installation, and New Media. Each group gets to experience each medium over the course of the project. We have just finished our first five week program- it has been educational and exciting.