Richard Dawson (Arbarus) and I have been lucky enough to win a commission to create some public art for the RSPB Ribble Reserve in Lytham St. Annes. Ribble Discovery Centre is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and has commissioned five artists to create permanent art for the area surrounding the centre and Fairhaven Lake, which is sited next to the estuary.
The Ribble Estuary is the most important single river estuary in the UK and attracts over 270,00 birds each year, with some notable species being the Wigeon, the Dunlin and the Pink-Footed Goose.
Richard and I are going to create one feature piece of art and several smaller pieces that form part of a trail around Fairhaven Lake. These will all be in the format of a steel wing with cut-out elements providing information and silhouetted shapes. These will be decided in consultation with the public, RSPB volunteers and the Centre’s steering group at a number of workshops.
I’ll have some more photos from the first of our workshops (which is today) but in the meantime, here’s a view of the estuary, with my dog doing a spot of photo-bombing and Richard taking a proper photo on the left!
Our next workshop will be on Saturday 24th August at the Ribble Festival between 11am and 4pm. All the artists will be there to meet and discuss the proposed artwork.
A bit of a departure this week from the usual visual and public arts stuff I do – I’ve ventured on stage! Don’t worry I wasn’t actually allowed to act, sing or dance (though I did pull a muscle trying to hula hoop on the first day…).
The project, based in Tameside, was to create a theatre piece based on The National Theatre’s production of War Horse. Working with young people from St. John’s Primary School in Dukinfield and West Hill Comprehensive School in Stalybridge, we put on a production at the beautiful Stalybridge Civic Hall on Saturday night called ‘Over the Wall’.
In the lead up to an intense week of workshops at the Civic Hall, StoneSoup and Arbarus worked with some of the students from St. John’s Primary School exploring themes, building prototype puppets and helping to prep the script. Then we arrived in Stalybridge on Monday morning with lots of ideas, lots of equipment and materials, seven artists of various descriptions, a fabulous empty space and 75ish young people.
By the time Saturday night’s 45 minute show in front of 250 people had finished (standing room only), everyone in the group had been involved in most parts of putting on the production including – the music, the acting, the set design and build, creating props, creating (and puppeteering) dog and bird puppets, making costumes, and lots of other stuff I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
The boys from West Hill School in particular were absolutely fantastic and really came into their own on the ‘art department’ side of things, essentially leading on a lot of the design, set-making and puppets with a massive amount of effort put in to get everything completed for the Saturday night deadline.
A special mention to the teachers and TA’s from both schools who got completely stuck in and were brilliant!
I was too busy to take any of the pictures myself, so another special mention to the young people of West Hill who took all of these photographs (apart from during the production – thanks to Richard Dawson of Arbarus).
I’ve been lucky enough to be selected for the Hot Bed Press 20 Year anniversary exhibition. Held at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition features 20 artists selected from the printmaking studio’s members and runs from now until 16th September 2014.
Four of my screenprints were chosen to be part of the exhibition, including one that I’ve just completed. In the same style as my previous urban sketch screenprints but much larger, it shows the view from the top of Shudehill Car Park (see my earlier rant about views from car parks here). As I use paper stencils to get the background colours, printing this caused all sorts of problems due to the stencil warping and stretching over such a large area. However, I didn’t want to use photo screens for all parts of the artwork as it creates a final image that’s too perfect for me.
I was really pleased with the final piece especially once framed by the lovely and helpful ‘In the Picture Framing‘, who have just opened up in Woodend Mill in Mossley, where I have my studio.
At the weekend myself and Richard Dawson started our new art bird box project ‘abirdabode’. Over the next six months we will be running a series of workshops and creative activities for abirdabode; exploring urban and rural habitats, trying different art forms and making beautiful art bird boxes for our feathered friends in Oldham. We will be working closely with Oldham Arts Development and the RSPB to develop the project.
The project launched with a drop-in session at Festival Oldham where we invited members of the public to decorate a bird for the outside of our large-scale bird box. Despite the rain we had lots of visitors, all fascinated by the bird box and the mini-gallery inside showcasing the first art bird boxes and accompanied by local birdsong.
Find the abirdabode project here and keep an eye out for upcoming events.
A couple of weeks ago I took a group of Year Seven students from Alder Community High School into Hyde Town Centre to do some urban sketching. We spent the morning wandering around the Civic Square and Clarendon Square Shopping Centre drawing interesting buildings, objects and views. Lots of the group opted to draw the beautiful Hyde Town Hall, with the clock tower being a favourite part of the building.
We also went inside Clarendon Square Shopping Centre (not just to warm up!) and did some quick drawing exercises, doing sketches in 1 minute and 5 minutes to try and loosen up our drawings.
We then returned to the school, had a little lie down to recover from the walk back and went for lunch! In the afternoon, we created imaginary high street scenes on large sheets of cardboard, drawing and then painting them. We didn’t get them finished so some of the group stayed behind for Art Club to do a bit more work on the paintings.
We did however make the local paper (fame at last!). Here’s a link to the Manchester Evening News and here’s a few of the group’s brilliant drawings. Thanks to Alder Community High School – I’m hoping I can return to do some more work there.
Last month, I mentioned that I’d been asked to remove myself from a car park’s top floor, after taking pictures of the (amazing) views for my urban sketching and screen printing. Consequently, I put in a request to a certain car park company to be given permission to take pictures from Manchester’s numerous car park roofs.
That permission has been refused due to a number of reasons, which were:
A. There’s too many people asking to take pictures from car park roofs
B. Its a car park, not a photography opportunity
C. You don’t want to pay for the privilege (We’d let you if you had a big budget, a load of cameras, crew, cast and an important company name).
Grrrrrrrrrr. Watch this space. Who thought taking pictures from the roof of a car park could be so anti-establishment?! I’m going to try just standing and looking and see what they say then! I also think that all the people who want to take pictures from car park roofs should get together and mass storm Manchester’s car parks in a flash mob /critical mass style gathering.
Last week, myself and Richard Dawson spent a very wet Monday installing a memorial bench (Richard’s work) and then some withy bees (my work) for the RSPB up at Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth.
Kate from the RSPB came along to help. Bonnie, one of her dogs, thought the best place by far to sit was on top of me, whilst I was keeping the base of the bench in place. At this point, I’m slightly worried that all the other dogs are going to think the same thing!
My new series of screenprints are being exhibited at Bank Quay House in Warrington. Part of a group show, the Complete Printmakers from Hot Bed Press will be exhibiting alongside the Wrexham Regional Print Centre.
The exhibition runs from 4th April – 26th May 2014 at Bank Quay House, Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1NN. Go to their website for opening times and further details.