Another Circle Closes

It’s that time of year again… I’m working for the last time in the book I have shared over the year with Ben, before I post it back after Christmas. I’m feeling a sense of achievement as I look back over the pages we have shared, and the visual conversation we have had. I have been lucky enough again to share with two talented practitioners who have made me think, and have challenged my own practice.

My experiences on the Artist Teacher scheme have inevitably found their way into my sketchbooks this year, and vice versa, reminding me how different aspects of my practice all inform each other and are influenced by each other. Having the sketchbooks on the go alongside the ATS enables me to put ideas on the backburner and work on something else, or try things out in a different way, allowing me to explore and experiment in different contexts.

I have sent my sketchbook back to Louise for the final time, and I’m excited to see how she responds to my final additions. I have signed up for another year of the Circle, hopefully one sketchbook partnership and one digital partnership; I am already excited about where the experience will take me next.

Clay Houses

Yesterday I went out on an art teacher’s CPD event organised through the Birmingham Artist Educator network, 4MAT UK. We took a trip on the Ikon Gallery’s barge to make clay houses, part of the Black Country Voyages art programme. The lead artist on this project this year is Mahtab Hussain and his project is called The Auspicious Journey. He has used the barge as a vehicle for exploring ideas about the displacement of people from his homeland in Kashmir in the 1960’s resulting from the construction of the Mangla Dam. Many of the affected people did not move on to the nearest settlement in Kashmir, but came to the UK to find work around the Black Country canals. You can find more information about the project here.

The day was a great opportunity to relax and spend some time making – it’s a long time since I last used clay; it was very therapeutic, especially throwing it at the start to get rid of the air bubbles. It was also a great chance to chat and network in relaxing surroundings with other artist educators from the region; Emma, a fellow sketchbook circler; Lisa and Karen from last year’s Artist Teacher Scheme; Emma from the Ikon Gallery; Philip, part-time skipper and art therapist.

The workshop started me thinking about my own work in new ways too; where to go with my tubes made out of drawings and written extracts; new ways of making my mark on paper and on the world; new materials to try. I am pondering ideas about making my tubes out of clay, and the interactive, inclusive element of asking members of the public to make pieces for a project.

Next week I finish my job and take a step out into the unknown; I will be a freelance artist educator. I am scared and excited but am looking forward to the challenges and the changes, and seeing how these manifest themselves in my art practice. I will certainly have lots to write about in my notebook, lots of thoughts to illuminate, lots of ideas to make into tangible objects.

Fragments

It’s been a patchy week in terms of making time for my own work; business appointments and writing applications to register our company, parenting and the day job. I feel unsettled and uneasy; I need the mental downtime that writing and making give me. 
I have managed to make some drawings using soluble graphite on wet paper. I have snatched half-an-hour here and there to relax with some jazz music and sit on my living room floor drawing and spraying, letting my mind unravel, watching the graphite bleed and run.

I’m intending to use some of these drawings to make more tubes with; I like the written thoughts on them, the combination of fragments of drawings, and the inner lighting; lanterns shedding a light onto my thoughts.

I’ve been experimenting with hanging the tubes on a string of fairy lights (a safer alternative to using candles inside paper structures, I felt!), and although I wasn’t overwhelmed by the overall effect, I liked each individual ‘lantern’ and I managed to achieve some quite painterly effects by increasing the contrast in the photos.

This idea is still rattling around in my brain amidst the rest of the clutter, and I know that I want to continue to explore it through a combination of making and writing. My thoughts now are directed towards how to present it. I’m pleased to be moving my ideas out of a sketchbook and making them occupy a physical space, drawing in 3D, shedding some light on what it means to be me.

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