Tag Archive | Creative Art

Skyway

 

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Skyway was commissioned by Moyne Shire in 2016 as part of their development of the Koroit Youth Space. The sculpture is the centre piece of a skate park that was purpose built for Koroit’s young crew after some pretty amazing lobbying by a young man called Mitchel Hughan. I developed the concept for the artwork over several months in consultation with  Moyne’s Manager of Recreation & Community Development as well as a conversation or two with Regional Arts Victoria’s Jo Grant, young Mitchel, and Nick Stranks from the ANU Sculpture Workshop. Jacquie is great. She is pragmatic and down to earth which allowed the process of developing this artwork to be a sincere creative process.

I wanted something that captured the colours of the sky when the south west’s clouds clear and everyone heads outdoors with a smile on- it’s a real phenomenon down here!

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I distilled the concept into the idea of two wings or sails, as pictured above, that opened two the sky. My original ideas included coloured acrylic sheet and reinforced painted timber panels to bring colour into the artwork. The outdoor site required robust materials that could withstand the south west’s brutal elements and the inevitable energetic encounters with skaters. Continued deliberation about the durability of materials led me to stainless steel. 20mm thick stainless steel to be precise. I knew the craftsman that could help bring this work to life, Murray (Muz) Adams.

I met with Muz at his Wangoom workshop and we got talking. A big ol’ 1980s CNC machine sits in his workshop. These machines are used to cut pre-programed shapes/pathways into metals. Muz suggested that this machine could provide a unique way to create the sculpture’s surface. And so began the next evolution.

If the sculpture could not replicate the colours of the sky then I felt that it should interact with the sky itself. Instead of painted clouds I would now create clouds through tiny holes perforated in the steel plate which allow light through its dark surface. The wings would be aligned north and south so that the rising and setting sun in the east and west would strike their faces, and out the right time of the year align (think Stonehenge or Manhattanhenge or Melbournehenge for that matter). As the sun moves across the sky the shadows thrown from the two wings change creating a dynamic relationship between the sculpture and the land around it.

The conversation with Muz about the CNC process led me to think about how the clouds could be created as relief carvings of various depths into the plate. Playing around with clay helped this process.

From here began the long process of creating the digital drawings that could talk to the CNC machine. Each panel was to have 11 unique cloud formations that graduated in size from the top to the bottom, each to be plotted in a continuous “tool pathway” that would allow the CNC machine to churn away. It was a learning process to say the least.

I sourced the steel from Surdex Steel Warrnambool, these guys were great- I cannot recommend them highly enough. They organised a generous price as well as plasma cutting and delivery as their contribution to the project.  Adam Thulborn from PM Design Group also saved the day by converting my messy files into something the plasma cutter could talk too.

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The wings and bases arrived cut to size in Muz’s shed from which point he carbonised the steel which gave it a deep smokey surface. He then set the CNC in motion. As it cut the relief forms into the steel the under layer of shiny stainless was revealed creating a really cool contrast between the two surfaces.

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There were around 3,000 holes drilled into the two wings. Turns out that drilling through 20mm steel plate takes time. Around 100hrs of machine time in this case- totally huge.

There were a number of hiccups, sagas, and learning curves along the way for Muz and I. The most notable of these was the kamikaze swan that flew into power lines taking out the workshop’s electricity just days before our looming deadline.

As the wings came off the CNC machine my job was to clean-up metal shavings left around the clouds to ensure that this beautiful tactile surface was totally safe for little fingers to touch. I used a dremal and about twenty small cutting blades to complete this. The final step was to use wax and a blow torch to put the finishing touches on the surface- Muz was the mastermind here but he let me have a play around. It was a fun way to keep warm on a pretty cold winter’s night!

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As luck would have it wet weather prevented Skyway from being installed when the Koroit Youth Space- Skate Park opened in early July 2017. The ground was simply too wet to get the crane in. Skyway was instead lowered into position in under the careful instruction of Moyne Supervising Engineer Andrew Ottanelli in November 2017.

Once in place it looked like it had always been there. Muz and I had a chance to speak to Moyne Shire’s in house reporter not too long after- you can find that article and a pic or two here.

the CreaTree

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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.

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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”

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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…

http://www.standard.net.au/story/2253858/artists-tell-stories-of-brain-injury-in-warrnambool-laneway-display/

http://www.standard.net.au/story/2258143/laneway-festival-move-indoors/

Above are links to two Warrnambool Standard Articles about this beautiful project 🙂

Amazing Drawings by the Kitchen Table Arts Explorers

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Late in the second last week of our project I made an evening visit to our Project Coordinator and School Principle Lynn Lyle’s home. Here I collected 18 completed drawings crucial to the conclusion of our project. When Lynn and I attended an Arts Vic PD day back in March she warned me that she was not creative at all, non-the-less she was prepared to take our explorers for their Painting and Drawing Sessions as part of our five week rotation. Looking through these 18 completed drawings together I could see Lynn’s genuine pride in the children’s work.

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During the Painting & Drawing Program the students were introduced to different mediums and taught a number of drawing techniques. It wasn’t until after I’d written this program that I saw the quality of the work the students were already making in there fortnightly art classes, I began to doubt if my program had anything to offer them….
We used Eugene von Guerard as a starting point, not so much for his meticulous technique but for his arts explorative process of looking at the environment in its parts and as its whole. The Arts Explorers in our program were to look at their environments, drawing on their expedition themes and create images uses the new methods shown to them.

This process was not about creating “perfect” drawings. In fact parts of this process were specifically designed to break with that idea we hold of being “a good drawer”, this was about getting in touch with creativity, and becoming brave and bold in the process. One of my favourite bits of feed back came from a year six student when I asked her what she had learnt through the process. She replied that she had learnt “that art didn’t have to be perfect” and that “it could be anything”. WOW!! Her mum actually stopped me in the hall one day to let me know the interest that her daughter was now showing in creativity and art and what a positive effect the program was having on her. For me it doesn’t get much better than that!!

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These 18 Images are really strong works that are a kin with works I have seen by practicing artists in contemporary galleries. I collected the drawings that evening to turn them into digital prints which would become the lead-light images for our Light Chamber Observatory. Logos Ahead Warrnambool did a great job printing these and they look absolutely stunning inside our child centred light space.

Hawkesdale Memorial Hall Mosaic

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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 🙂

Kitchen Table Art Expedition

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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.

Participatory Art Practice

This is my space for talking about the what I do as a Participatory Arts Practitioner…. This is a core part of what I have done with my time since 2001. My passion is developing unique programs and projects that give community members a positive way to be engaged in their environments. The idea is that through coming together as a group and using our hands to make meaningful art we invest ourselves in our shared reality and often raise our sense of personal and communal well-being in the process.

I am guided by my core research that views a person as an embodied consciousness in continual interaction and overlap with their physical, psychological and social environment. Over the years I have identified concepts that support and guide my practice:
Positive Psychology
Deep Ecology
Social Model of Health
Through my Community and Participatory Art Practice I promote opportunities for self-empowerment…. and we have so much fun!