Tuesday 16 April 2013

edges and boundaries

See fabrication post for details and images from my first session at Mint Street Adventure Playground on friday 5th April. The overriding memory from this session was that the girls (mostly) created the spaces and the boys settled into the spaces and played computer games. The girls then went on to create a girl only space in which they sat quietly and thoughtfully considered words to physically and emotionally describe the interior they had created.

The second session on wednesday 10th April had a different feel. This week issues around boundary, respect and rules came to the foreground. Passwords and knocking before entering were required, rules about who was allowed entry and who was barred. This led to some conflict and a few disagreements and tears. 

With my encouragement the space was in constant flux, remaining open to change, unmade and remade. For some children this was challenging as they became attached to their space and wanted it to remain static. Engaging children new to the activity into making alterations and expressing their ideas was hard on some of the previous creators who's spaces were dismantled in the process. It was a tightrope that needed to be walked. 

Boys unpacking and getting ready for play

A sunny day at last

Intriguing installation  

 Great image captured by Millie

Unmake, remake


Word Cloud created from the children's writing about their spaces

Tuesday 9 April 2013


The Building Exploratory have been appointed by Southwark Council to work with the local community to consider how the building at Mint Street Adventure Playground could be redeveloped. They asked me to work with the children and young people who use the space to seek their voice and ideas for this redevelopment.

The children/young people play outside in a marvelous adventure playground and I wanted to bring this sense of play indoors. By introducing lengths of colourful fabric into the interior space the participants were given free rein to temporarily alter space, change proportions, build dens, hide away, layer spaces, move and act differently. We interviewed the creators about their spaces, what they liked about them and what they could be used for. Written and drawn responses to the intervention were created and displayed as we worked. I'll be at Mint Street tomorrow between 1pm-4pm for another afternoon of invention and play.

 Games were invented, movement initiated 

Pegs and joins

  Carefully pegging the fabric

 A den

 Looking out from inside the den

 Working as a team

 Boys den

 A space created by a mum and her 5 year old daughter. Mum 
felt comfortable and breast fed her baby daughter here.

trick of the light

Last week I delivered a workshop for the Children's Art School in Wimbledon. The Victorians were a clever lot, before the invention of film they created magical ways to trick the eye into seeing moving images. During the morning we explored these tricks and deceived our own eyes by creating moving drawings. During the afternoon these marvelous techniques were developed further, exploring optical illusion using shadow puppets and light.

What I most enjoyed about the day was the gasps of delight as the children looked in wonder at what they had created. With card, tape, paper and their skill and imaginations they peeked into the past and experienced their power in transforming basic materials.

 Mixing weather - thaumatrope in action

 Adding to a pile of thaumatrope's

 Zoetrope with frames being drawn

Spinning zoetrope, tricking the brain into seeing a moving image with the persistence of vision 


Last month I traveled to Matlock in Derbyshire for a days walking. Having booked the train tickets a month in advance for affordability I kept everything crossed for a dry day. The day arrived with heavy rain and biting wind across the UK. Still, I went. 

My planned route was a circular walk starting and ending in Matlock, passing Matlock Bath, through the forest to Cromford, up to Black Rocks, then returning past Starkholmes. Rather than heading off into the hills I walked the roads and ended up passing Masson Mills, a mill I'd often seen when in the wooded hill above the A6.

This loom sits in the entrance to the shopping area and immediately intrigued me, reminding me of my studies at Derby University in the early 90's. The complexity, skill and time required to thread this warp, the mathematics, technical knowledge and understanding needed. This and the beauty of it, threads made solid, shimmering, sculptural, constantly changing as I moved around the loom.  

The rain led me to this and I wasn't disappointed that my planned walk was scuppered.