Creating a Coat for a Cow
The world is an amazing place. Just when I thought Id better try looking for a 'proper job'*, though a friend of a friend of a friend, I heard about a fantastic opportunity at the wonderfully local St Josephs Catholic Primary school in Crib Point who had teamed up with the equally wonderful SongRoom to turn a plain looking cow into something special for the Picasso Cow project. A couple of weeks later and I was busily knitting away with a posse of suitably crafty individuals to create a a colourful coat for "Woolameana". I think shes rather gorgeous...
* That's an entirely different blog post and someday I'll endeavor to express my feelings on promotional work, sustainable art practice, hobbists and what its all about...
So here it is...All wrapped up. The Wall, by the preps, grade 1's and 2's from Balnarring Primary School. Over 200 boxes, thoughtfully assembled with their own relief sculptures and an assortment of interesting objects. It looked amazing.... and the feedback was awesome.
The kids were keen to see their artwork on display, delighted to be a part of a community event and really proud of their achievements. Half the fun was finding their own assemblage amongst the mix, which prompted me to consider creating a "spot what" activity to go with the display.
I was super lucky to have help from Pea and Sandy from Balnarring Primary to install the wall who, due to the limited exhibition time have offered to reinstall the boxes in the school gym so the families who were unable to see the finished product get a second chance.
Unexpected bonus: We even won a prize....BEST IN CLASS (I'm fairly sure we were the 'only' in class) for the Balnarring Flower Show. Nice!
Inspiration for the construction component for grade prep - 2's came from the artist Louise Nevelson. Not only was her story interesting; a woman artist working at a time when art was considered a masculine domain but her methodology was readily transferable to working with the younger grades. Each student would be able to achieve a finished sculptural piece, and together the works would combine to create a cohesive piece with (hopefully) plenty of visual impact.
I introduced the classes to Nevelson, explaining that she grew up playing in her fathers' timber yard and making things (much like they had in previous art classes) with scraps of timber. We looked at images of her works and the way she combined interesting shapes to create her sculptures, then talked about her inspiration... nature, the city and space.
Our next step was to combine the layered relief sculptures we had created during the last session with salvaged commercial materials into shoe boxes. The students were asked to use each interior surface of the box as a base (sides as well as base). The results were really impressive, with everyone achieving an interesting result. While I'd initially planned on spay painting each box the same colour, to replicate the style of Nevelson's sculptures, an unsuccessful grant application meant that the funding wasnt available. On refection -I think the kids will prefer seeing their work as they completed it anyway. So I'm happy with that.
Some students did extend the assemblage beyond the initial single lesson, so we were lucky to have an optional additional session to complete the project.
With the beginning of the construction component of our project, once again my main concern (particularly as these were the least structured lessons) was that the kids would whack together some cardboard and plastic in a box then call it done. 10 minutes tops.
And its true - some of the younger grades did tend to rush, but over all the process took much longer than I'd feared. phew.
With the preps - grade 2's I decided to break down the lesson further. I'd determined that our first learning goal would be an exploration of space and size in composition. Attempting to explain space to the preps really got me thinking. I'd never considered what abstract concept it is. The best explanation we (as a group) came up with was in space in relation to another object - ie this table is next to that chair, there is empty space between that we call negative space. The space the table takes up, is positive space.
Then we made some drawings. Using shapes, we started filing the negative space on a page. We noticed that we needed to draw progressively smaller shapes to really fill the page.
Next - we introduced the concept of dimension. We began making a relief sculpture, building up the surface using layered shapes on cardboard. Some kids were happy to work using simple geometric or organic forms while others were keen to work figuratively. These sculptural elements were to be included into the shoe box assemblage to be introduced in the next session.
The thing I've been spending most time on lately as far as the project goes is getting together a management plan. Identifying timelines, objectives, priorities, frameworks, constraints, resources and stakeholders. Documentation. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.
While that stuff is dry and dare I say it - a little boring, at least its doing something.
The hard bit has been coming up with a concept for the workshops to fit into the constraints...
Ive been considering the possibility of working with the theme of "GROWING HOME" - thinking that the characteristics of cardboard may lend itself to some architectural style assemblages or structures. The thinking is that there is enough scope for the diverse age groups to achieve some thought provoking results while still keeping a cohesive aesthetic.
Ive been doing a little research and found some great resources here and here for kids sculptural projects that have provided some great inspiration.
A great place to gather materials is reverse art truck - And today I've had some fun playing with a Louise Nevelson style assemblage that could be a good way to go with the younger kids, if I can just solve the problem of suitable adhesives (ideas gratefully received).
A little inspiration
Whats in a name?
So... Calling this thing "the public art project" is getting tired. I need something new, zappy, inspired and inspiring. Something that captures the imagination yet creates the desire for wanting to know more... a little mystery maybe. And I need your help.
Bear in mind that the project will be:
*use recycled, waste or natural materials
*will be temporarily installed in OCTOBER 2014
*based on designs inspired by indigenous flora and fauna
Post your comments here with your thoughts for what to call this thing and there may well be a prize of some description ( my eternal thanks, or even a painting) to those that I REALLY like.
THE IDEA: to create a project that brings together awesome things. Art, community and a thriving environment.
It all started a few years ago with a few friends sitting around imagining how cool it would be to have a community garden. A place to share stories, veggies, experience, and ideas...
We realised that the perfect parcel of land was almost under our feet and so went about developing a concept that could be presented to the community. We did, they liked the idea and the concept grew (like a little seedling).
Today Balnarring Village Common is working to create a space for the whole community to meet, interact and grow together. As it turns out, securing unused public land for community activity has been a task a little like walking el camino. Its a reeeaaalllly long road. Its just as well nice things happen along the way.
Anyhoo. Where does the Art fit ? I hear you ask.
Basically - in order to get people to notice, interact and dare I say it ... get passionate about the parcel of land in their front yard that is likely to turn into at best, yet another block of shops selling stuff that is oh so desirable but not at all necessary to our health and happiness if we don't raise our collective hands and say "hold on just a second there cowboy", I'll be implementing a temporary sculptural installation in association with the folks at Balnarring Primary School on 3051-3053 Frankston Flinders Rd Balnarring. The installation is planned for October 2014, with workshops through July, August and September.
I'll be documenting the whole process here. If you'd like to be a part of the whole sh'bang... be sure to leave me a comment.
Meanwhile here are some nice pictures of the space so you can see how nice it is.
Community Art Projects in Balnarring and beyond