Countless hours were spent at collage honing my observation and drawing skills, but now I rarely sit and draw for the sake of drawing.
I'm aware of observing the world with a drawers eye - counting, measuring, noting the space between objects, spotting interesting colour-way, tone, texture. Learning to draw changes how you look forever: inquisitive looking, sorting the world into shapes that fit together, attempting to forget what you're looking at in order to see it clearly.
This Tuesday I tootled up Leytonstone High Road and attended a class with East London Life Drawing. The assembled group were focused and companionable, and we lost two hours in the best possible way: in the moment, solving the problem of how to depict a living form on 2D paper. For me, it all came together when I got my hands on this red crayon, a blunt, early years type crayon with both beautiful and frustrating qualities.
My brief was to create an activity that could accommodate 300 participants a day, reference Hodgkin and Hepworth and result in something wearable within 20 minutes of making! This workshop was the result. Run during the Summer Bazaar weekend at the Hepworth Wakefield, our visitor total was 611 happy people - phew! With thanks to staff and volunteers Hilary, Lesley, Rachael and Haleema, also Sandra for help moving tables!
Myself and Gillian Brent got our heads together in her Sheffield studio and invented this drop-in workshop for families in response to Howard Hodgkin: Painting India. Rain and wind meant our Outdoor Play workshop became indoor play in the bright and roomy learning studios at the gallery. We had a few utterances of 'wow' as children stepped into the space, one child calling the installation a laundry painting, which I loved!
Our idea evolved from a sense of being able to walk into Hodgkin's paintings. Throughout the days, our walk-in painting altered, evolved and began again as 230+ participants pegged, tied and draped fabric, ribbons and drawings within the structure. They did this after exploring the gallery using an inventive pack containing questions, prompts, ribbons, fabric, a black card frame and bags containing cloves, cardamon, cinnamon and coriander seeds - connecting scent and painting in their own personal way.
As always, we couldn't do this without the support of the learning team and generous volunteers - a BIG thank you to them.
Very proud to share that The Hepworth Wakefield has won Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. Our education team won the Clore Learning Award at the Museum of the Year Awards 2013, so it's not the first time our endeavour, commitment and excellence has been recognised. In 2010, I was living in Sheffield and looking for work. A friend mentioned a new gallery opening in Wakefield, I rang the education team and a surprised voice told me they had put a call out for creative practitioners that day! I applied and the rest is history. Nat, Vic and Ami united an amazing team of movers, writers, musicians and visual artists - working in sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography and textiles. We were privileged in entering the gallery before any art was installed, with mud churned up around the building. We got to understand the space, it's light, angles, scale, building as object, nestled amongst and mirroring disused factory and mill buildings. Whispering about the past and the future. The Hepworth Wakefield is deeply connected to this site, it's walls driven into the earth, The River Calder lapping against concrete, forming part of Wakefield's flood defence. Floor to ceiling windows frame the cityscape beyond, tapping you lightly on the shoulder to remind of the importance of landscape for Hepworth, her early formative experience in West Yorkshire preoccupying her life's work. So, yep, PROUD!