Community Connections and the ATS

The past few weeks have been rather manic, to say the least. I have completed the summer intensive part of the Artist Teacher Scheme, an experience I found intensely liberating and also intensely emotional; I wanted to cry for several days on returning to work and had an in-depth discussion with my manager. Having coffee with my friend, soul sister and partner in crime Claire this morning, she pointed out that there is no going back – I can’t un-know this amazing experience. It is now settling and I have begun to process it, and I now need to find the way forward.

So Claire and I have been planning; just some small community events to start with, which will hopefully lead into some longer-running projects which will begin to build my profile as an artist, and Claire’s community play initiative, Your Turn.

As well as my plans for community art initiatives, I also have to produce 100 pieces of work by Saturday 3rd September, when we return to uni to start the second phase of the ATS, continue working on my TEA Sketchbook Circle books, go to work, and be a single mum.

I have cleared my dining table so I can work on the large gestural drawings which are my current interest, and which I started exploring in Sarah Goudie’s Drawing in Space workshops on the ATS. I am also exploring ideas about adding and taking away, asserting and obliterating, ebb and flow, a reflection of life on a piece of paper. I have been using pastels, charcoal and graphite, enjoying the physical involvement in the drawing process, the gestures and the tactile drawing materials, the sound of the drawing. I am fascinated by the rhythmic, hypnotic sounds of the materials on the paper, and have made a recording.

I’m not sure where I’m heading with this yet, so I am having to trust in the process and not worry about what the outcome will be.

Endings and Beginnings


Wow. What a week. It’s been a week of endings and hopefully the start of new things. The young women’s youth group at which I volunteer is closing at Easter due to changes in the way it is funded (it’s a bit convoluted, but no need for that here). However, there is going to be a consultation for all the young people and some of the youth workers in the area this week, to let the young people decide how they want to move things forward, and how the youth services will look in the near future. So, it’s sad that our youth group is closing, but exciting that there are new possibilities and opportunities opening up ahead.

With this news kicking around in the back of my mind, yesterday my daughter and I visited our local 3 Store to get an upgrade on my old phone, which has been playing up recently. In the store there is an amazing mural on the back wall, composed of photographs of random funky stuff – there’s a dalek, a pair of stars ‘n’ stripes platform shoes, some loveheart sweeties, a close up of a dog with its nose pushed up against the camera… you get the picture. Every time we visit this shop, we sit and look at the pictures and find new things we’ve never noticed before. This time we asked the sales assistant about it, and asked if we could take a photograph of it. I could feel the seeds of an idea germinating; I could use this format and take it home to my local community, to the young people for whom the services are changing and to the other groups who use the local community centre. Each person could create their own square. People can take a photo of some aspect of our area – either positive or negative, maybe both – and send it to me to be printed and then mounted alongside all the other contributions on boards or large canvasses. Who doesn’t carry a smartphone these days? Or, for the more artistic, draw, paint, collage a square. Social commentary. So now I need to sell the idea to my employers, find some funding and get to work. I even know roughly where to put the finished piece.

This week in my home studio I have been busy on my illustrations for my Documented Life Project folder. I must admit that towards the end of the week they have been doodles rather than drawings; it’s been a busy week at work and my brain has needed to zone out at the end of the day, but that’s okay. I like to revisit my little squares and random shapes from time to time. They’re like familiar friends who come to see me when I’m too exhausted to think straight.

I’ve sent back the February sketchbook to Ben, and I’m now waiting for my book to come back from Louise. I’ve had a taster of some of her additions on social media, and am now eagerly looking forward to seeing them in the flesh. I love the beginning of the month, getting a new book, seeing the additions for the first time, giving yourself time to digest the other person’s work, formulating your own response…and so the cycle of growth and change continues, just like the seasons.