Thursday, 24 March 2011

Exhibition Opening Day

I spent all day yesterday putting the exhibiton up with Prudence Collins, Emma Daker and Anne Forgan. It was really good, there was a slight blip waiting for all of the text plates to arrive. There are 3 or 4 to follow at around 9.00am today cutting it a bit fine as the exhibition opens at 10.00am. It will all be done on time.
The photographs look absolutely brilliant lots of people have commented alreay and stopped to have a look when we were installing them. My thanks have to go to John Hodgett and Harlequin Print in Kings Norton Birmingham they turned them around in 24 hours and they have done a great job. All of the exhibits are in place and looking just great, I feel really please and proud for everyone who has taken part. I have got so much from this residency and plan to take my work here forward and continue to work with the community here.
I need to get a move on now, I want to be at frankley before 9.00am today. Watch this space for news and images from the exhibiton and sharing event. Starts today at 10.00am and continues until Tuesday 29th March. The library is not open on Saturday or Sunday if you are planning to visit.

Coming to an end

The last 2 weeks have flown by. The photoshoot on 15th March went really well. The photographer, John Hodgett put everyone at their ease. The people who have been coming to my Thursday workshops and classes arrived already for their photographs and they looked amazing. They had all dresses for a special occasion and the fascinators that they had made finished off their outfits. Louise said: "I feel a million dollars and I keep saying that". It was a great morning, lots of fun and there was plenty of discussion about " getting dressed up" how good it makes you feel and changes how we feel about ourselves. Also where we could go. A day at the races, the theatre and that we should go out for lunch..


A couple of the pupils from year 7 & 8 that came to the sharing event with their parents also came to the photoshoot and had their photographs taken by the press for the Bromsgrove Recorder last Thursday they were very excited and have really enjoyed taking part. Eli said: "my Dad keeps wearing the tie he made he wears everywhere even outside". 3 year 10 pupils were photographed and have offered to help with the exhibition and sharing event . Brilliant! Everyone has wanted to be involved and are really looking forward to the exhibiton and the making activities that we have planned together to bring the residency to a close.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Half term stuff

During half term I visited Birmingham City University and delivered a couple of lectures to undergraduate and post graduate students studying at The School of Jewellery and in Textiles at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design. The lectures focussed on being self employed/freelance/working for yourself, what ever it is called it amounts to the same thing. To begin with I asked the students to think about well known, successful individuals who were self employed. They suggested Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Bill Gates etc. Then I asked them to think about what characteristics they had that contributed to them being successful. They suggested: Hard working, determined, focussed, motivated, ambitious etc etc. We went on to look at young entrepreneurs working in the Creative Industries, the website gives some great profiles and all of the students found this part of the lectures really inspiring. I went on to talk to them about getting advice, registering self employed, generating work, opportunities, work space and using my artist residency as a case study looking at the kind of work they might expect to be involved in when they work freelance.
The feedback from the students was really positive and included: The best part of the talk was " talking to someone who has been through it" and something I have learned here is: "to continue with my ambitions and thoughts, work hard and network". Afterwards, 4 students came forward to volunteer to work with me to install the exhibition and oversee some craft activities at the sharing event when the exhibition opens to the public.
It was a privilige to work with them, their ideas, hopes and dreams are inspiring. I wish them every success and feel optimistic for them.

By 3rd March I was back with the community groups at Frankley Library. The work has progressed and they are creating more complex fascinators using millinery materials.

Some of the group have finished their fascinators and are planning to work on corsages and textile jewellery over the next 2 weeks. We had a discussion about how you feel when you wear a fascinator, hat or head decoration and Louise said: " A million dollars, like I could do anything" There has also been a lot of discussion around what else to wear and do when you get dressed up such as: having a make over, hair styling, clothes and having photographs taken. The community group generally felt that it would be a good idea to include some of these things at the sharing event to open the exhibition. We have decided to include a make up artist, mendhi artist and I have approached Bournville College of Further Education to see if their student hair stylists would like to take part in the event. They are really keen and very excited abouy this so we will have 4 or 5 student hair stylists to help with the make overs for the community group. it is going to be a really good event, I have arranged for a photographer and Prudence is working with me on all of the planning and organisation for the exhibition as well as finalising ideas for the making activities that will also be going on at the same time.

Monday March 7th was a really good day. I had arranged a sharing event for Year 7 & 8 students from Frankley Community High School. The children were invited to bring a parent along to take part in some making activities based around head decorations and accessories. We made fascinator bands and decorative ties.  The chidren said: " making hair bands was good", " doing art and working with parents was good" and " sewing was difficult".  Everyone worked hard and did not stop for a break we all really enjoyed ourselves.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

More Community Workshops

In the last 2 weeks I have worked with a wide variety of people from the Frankley community. Sometimes in group sessions and also one to one. All of it has been really rewarding and it is exciting to see how their work is developing. I have spent some more time with pupils from the school, again working with Year 10 and a student from Year 11 who is making a mobile phone stand from acrylic in the form of a boater for her GCSE in Design Technology. She wanted adv ice on millinery materials and how she could combine them with her acrylic boater. Together we looked at using sinamay, parisisal straw and ribbon decorations. 
The Year 10 students tried on a variety of hats while I talked to them about hat making and head decorations. It is very good to see how wearing a hat makes everything more fun. There is always someone in the group who wears a hat in a silly or funny way that makes everyone laugh and very quickly the ice is broken. It gives them confidence and the comments included: "I am ready to go out now, I could wear this outside" and "I love the fascinators they make me think about the summer, I want to get dressed up." After the talk they made a decorative piece that could be worn on a hair band, comb or as a brooch. we discussed the project that they are working on entitled: Tropical and they showed me their beautiful drawings.

I have also been running open workshops on Thursdays and for the last 2 weeks these have been really well attended. Some people were from the Reading Group that meets regularly at the library. Again members of the public came in to try their hand at making a fascinator. The students from some of the adult education classes joined in and parents and foster carers from the Toddler Time group.
Each time the atmosphere was really buzzing with lots of talking and trying on fascinators and head decorations again. Pleanty of skills sharing and helping each other was going on too. Again there were some great comments: " I have been sewing again this week, just one or two bits and pieces but I have felt inspired." and "I took my suffolk puff corsage home I like it so much, I didn't want to leave it here, I like to keep looking at it."
There is a great sense of achievement across the group, they really like the work that we are doing, it is very creative and every week they are complimenting each other and taking photographs of their work to take home and show to family and friends.

Work in progress

It's gone to their heads!

I have had some more training on the laser cutter and using 2D Design software which is just brilliant I have to thank the staff at the City Learning Centre for being so patient and taking time out of their day to help me. I have also been thinking about, discussing and planning the sharing event and exhibition at the end of the residency. it is going to be great. More on tihs soon!
I am finding it frustrating that the residency is only 3 months it is too short and difficult to fit everything in. I am irritated that I have not spent as much time as I wanted doing my own work. The planing and preparation for each of the sessions takes up time, writing this blog, emails, meetings (when i should be doing my own work) that happened this week! Also there is very little storage space for me to keep materials on site so that I have to keep packing everything away and taking it home then bringing it all in again. I have been using space in the staff room and on top of a set of lockers but this space does not take much and it encroaches on the staff space. A cupboard that was ordered for me to use as storage has not appeared.

A really good thing happened this week, the graduate placement was chosen and arrived to be part of the residency last Thursday. Her name is Prudence Collins, a warm welcome to you. Prudence is really friendly and fitted in straight away, she is a very talented weaver and brings a wide variety of skills to the residency. She was welcomed by the community group that I was working with on Thursday afternoon and was thrown in at the deep end straight away. I hope that she enjoys it, is inspired and that the experience helps her to develop her work. It is great to be working together and to share the residency experience with another artist/designer.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Artist Residency Coffee Morning Group

This week I have worked with another group from the community. Some of them already use Frankley Library, they attend adult education classes or a reading group. A couple of people were members of the public who had read about the Coffee Morning that I was hosting with a talk on Hat Making, demonstrations and the opportunity to make a fascinator or head decoration. The work that I did with the group was new to everyone except 2 people who had attended some of the Thursday workshops that I have been running.

The demonstration went well, there were several questions about the hat blocks and different materials used in hat making such as : Sinamay, parisisal straw and felt.
I had examples of a variety of hats made using different materials and a range of fascinators.

It did not take long for everyone to start trying on the hats and soon everyone was wearing something on their head.

After the talk and demonstration, everyone started working on a fascinator. They really liked the range of materials, colours and decorations that they had to work with. It was interesting because all of the group had done sewing in the past but most of them had not sewn for a very long time, so this experience was giving them chance to renew skills that they already had and also to think about; quote; " using sewing as decoration not just to repair something". 

All of the work was done by hand and it was quite intricate. The great thing about it was that everyone helped each other, threading needles, starting off, adding decoration etc and all the time there was chatter about past sewing experiences, at school, at home, and the type of things that were made. One person said that she had given up sewing a long time ago but this made her feel like starting again and she felt that she could do this at home because it was small scale and easy to manage.
We all ran out of time but all of the group are coming back next Thursday to finish off their fascinators. They all completed evaluations for me at the end of the session and the comments were great: "I got a chance to sew again", "Annette explained everything to a tea", "I enjoyed the enthusiasm and help".

This week I also visited the City Learning Centre again for some more training, this time using the laser cutter. This has so much potential for my work in terms of: cutting multiples of a single unit of shape for decoration and hat shapes, mass production of 2D shapes ready for assemembling into 3D forms and for speed of production.

The image on the left is laser cut felt done in the blink of an eye! The work on the right is a felt piece being blocked with my trusted steamer in the fore ground. The work itself is one that I am developing with a view to using laser cut shapes for decoration and embellishment in the form of applique and mola work.


Monday, 31 January 2011

I have worked with students from Frankley Community High School this week, it was great. They are very enthusiastic and interested in learning new skills and processes. They all wanted more time exploring hat making so I hope to return to work with them again, they really are a credit to their tutor Caroline Howells and their school. The course that they are studying is a BTEC diploma in Art & Design and their current project or one of them is: Alice In Wonderland, some of the students have made hats for the Mad Hatter so it is just right that they should be exploring hat making at this time. All of them were keen to know about the hat making process and even keener to try on a range of hats. Great fun was had trying on different hat shapes to see which suited them. More photos of this to follow soon.

I showed them some ideas for decoration then they all made a decorative brooch pin using a variety of fabric, silk flowers and brads ( a type of decorative split pin). The students decided to pin them onto their jackets, jumpers and hats.
Every brooch was different and will be on show in the exhibition at the end of the residency from Thursday March 24th - Sat March 26th.

I have been working in my reflective diary it has helped me to remain focussed and to plan and organise my time. it was useful to record my training when I visited the City Learning Centre based at Frankley Community High School. I was able to use the Brother Super Galaxy S2100 ewing Machines and discuss using the laser cutter. This has had an influence on my work, I plan to go back again this week for some more training. I am working on a new range of felt hat/head decorations and being able to cut multiples using the laser cutter and to decorate them automatically using the Super Galaxy will really develop my work.

The image here is of a photograph that has been laser cut into denim, the detail is very fine. The sewing samples are what I did during my training on the Super Galaxy 2100 sewing machine very basic but I can really see the potential especially using my own imagery, decoration and words that have been scanned in first.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Time management is a priority on this residency. The time has flown past this week but I feel like I have achieved a lot. I have settled into my space, and have more of my own work 'stuff' around me now which is inspiring.

The first session with one of the community groups went really well, I met them last week after their adult education class and they were very enthusiastic and keen to 'have a go', even the Community Police Officer joined in The feedback was postitive with one of the group commenting this week: "You inspired me after the session I went home and got my sewing kit out and did all of the little repair jobs that I have been meaning to do for ages."

It is great to see my work in another context. I have had my work in exhibitons, shop windows, wedding and craft fayres but not in a library setting before. It is attracting interest and gives me and the library staff opportunities to talk about my work and publicise the different events. the library staff have been great, really supportive and enthusiastic about my residency it has helped me so much.
Some work from the first session, just waiting for the 'bling' to be added. Gems, sparkles, more feathers etc it is up to the individual. Everyone started with a central feature that they made by hand then added feathers and wired pearls and gems etc. Not bad for the first time! All of the group are really looking forward to the next session. 

Making the centrepiece.
This week I have finalised the timetable to include:  Workshop sessions every Thursday for 2 community groups plus anyone else that wants to take part. I am also working for 2 mornings with 2 Year 10 BTEC Art & Design groups from Frankley High School and also doing a family sharing event with Year 7 & 8 also from Frankley High School. I am going to do an open Coffee Morning session on Wednesday 2nd February from 10.00am for anyone that wants to come along on Hat Making with the opportunity to make some fascinators too. There will also be lecture presentations to Birmingham City University students studying for B.A.Textiles and HND Jewellery & Silversmithing. The final event will be a 3 day exhibition from Thursday 24th march until Saturday 26th March with a community sharing event taking place on Thursday 24th March. Details will be confirmed soon. Phew!                                                                      

Work during session 2, 20.01.11 
They are wearing some of my fascinators.