I had the chance to work with the lovely Lesley black, who is the careers extraordinaire for Glasgow School of Art. This was a very special project because it was funded by generous donation, on the premise that it was for a GSA graduate to create something they would be proud of for their portfolio. I was so honored to be given the chance to have such freedom! The book it self contains information about preparing craft and design for retail, and has lots of tips about budgeting, stock keeping etc. There will be an online version available soon- give me an email if you think it would be handy and would like a link to it!
Here is an interview i did recently with ASCUS, for their blog. Its long! so I have broken it up with some great photos by Sandra Franco and Ray Bird.
What is the idea behind your workshop?
As an artist, one of my particular interest is in visual representations of long term conditions, as I think that they have the potential to challenge dominant narratives of health and ill health. This is particularly important in considering long-term conditions, as they don't fit with out model of recovery- get sick, get fixed.
When I first considered the Atopic Art brief, There were certain aspects of it that where particularly important to me. Children with long term eczema are likely to have to manage their conditions for most of their childhoods and some into their adult lives too. This led me to be really clear about my focus- I wanted to consider the emotional aspect of eczema, rather than the scientific, or physical manifestations of the condition.
This led me to reflect on my personal experience of the condition, and what I find most challenging about managing it - both as a child and now as an adult. The thing that stands out for me is the challenge that eczema poses when you are trying to sleep- that sore, tickly, frustrated snooze that anyone with eczema will recognize! Sleep disturbance is a big problem for children with eczema and there families, as it has knock on effects in all areas of their lives- at school, in the relationships with friends, their ability concentrate and their energy levels.
The piece we have been working on in the Atopic Art workshop aims to encourage reflection on this aspect of the children's lives, as well as creating a space for them to present their dreams- aspirations, fears, concerns and fantasy!
The workshops was painty! Using acrylic fabric paints, each child painted a 'dream pillow' which they have taken home to sleep with. The images from these pillows, which where then captured by the fantastic photographer Sandra Franco, will be printed on to the 'dream den'. This is a cosy space for children (and adults!) to interact with in the exhibition space, which will be filled with work by the participants at the workshops. The den is a space that will encourage people to think about what makes them feel safe, secure, and happy, and how having a long term condition like eczema might challenge these needs for children and young people.
How have the children/families you’ve worked with so far engaged with your idea?
Eczema Outreach Scotland are a fantastic organization- I wish I had had them around when I was wee. The Volunteers are so passionate about the project - they have given up so much time, and buckets of energy, to make it all happen. I have learnt a lot from them and it is fantastic to be part of a grassroots organization with really big ideas. The children who have come along to the sessions have really given their all- we have had the most amazing dreams translated on to pillows! From Julia the flying horse, to Ruaridh's Magma Monsters, they have been in equal parts scary, exciting, weird and wonderful!
The den has also been a big hit with the littlest ones- its so great to see them pottering around inside it and adding their dreams - and more abstract art too! - to the walls. I think the children where immediately drawn to the space which had been designed for them, which was exciting to see and made me feel confident about what the den would communicate conceptually to adults looking at it.
Have there been any exciting and unexpected moments for you?
The project has been exciting from start to middle! (not quite at the end yet!). I haven't worked with groups quite so big before - which has been a challenge but the buzz that comes form getting so many kids together who share the same day to day challenges, and who can relax together, was amazing. Having so many children involved has meant the artwork is going to be really rich with ideas and colour.
One of the most unexpected aspects of the project was how many people would be invested in it. It is such an amazing opportunity, as an artist, to have a whole team of people behind me supporting me and making things happen! Sandra Franco, who is the photographer on the project, has really given her all and I am really grateful to her for all the beautiful photos she has taken of the kids involved in the workshops. I could never have envisaged having such high quality photography to work with before she came along! It has also been great to be supported by an Organistaion like ASCUS. They are the first organisation I have come across who do what they do, supporting the artists and Eczema Outreach Scotland to make sure everything runs smoothly and comes together.
What elements of your workshop do you think have been the most successful and why?
For me, community arts has a number of roles- it is great to see people being creative, fantastic to see there finished work exhibited, and great fun as an artists to work with lots of people on a project. But for me, the most important part of a lot of the work I do in this kind of setting is the process of the workshops themselves. Creating a space in which the children are given a simple task to do- with not too much direction from there on in- and seeing what they come up with. And while they paint, the important bit happens- they chat to each other, connect over what they are painting, share their ideas and paintings, and make a big mess. Perfect!
The Atopic Art project has been an amazing opportunity to be involved with and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved!
Some more fantastic photos from Sandra and Ray from the Atopic Art workshops I have been running- this time in Glasgow Science Centre. It is so great to be working with such talented photographers!
It was really exciting to be offered the opportunity to work with the RSPB on a promotional image for their garden wildlife festival, which takes place in the summer. I am working on a striking, graphic image based on digital collage techniques, using patterns created In community workshops inspired by the priority species: house sparrow, pipestrille bats, hedgehogs, bumble bees, watervoles, and swifts. The workshops took place on a busy afternoon in Kelvingrove museum- here are some of the results!
I am now working on bringing together the textures created in the workshops – painted with invented paintbrushes crafted from nature. I am working with themes of patch worked collage, which echoes the rich variety of wildlife and spaces in Glasgow, as well as paying homage to the ‘homeliness’ of the festival. Encouraging people to get wrapped up in the nature on their doorstep!
The final work will be released soon- and will be all over Glasgow as a poster inside the promotional leaflet for the festival!
It has been great to spend the last 6 months working alongside some start up community artists, and even greater to have exhibited alongside them at the Barrowlands art and design space, with Impact arts.
This exhibition marked the end of my community arts mentoring programme. It has been a great experience, which saw me undertaking projects across Glasgow- Schools workshops in Rosemount Primary, Craft Café in Govan, and the commonwealth community cookbook in Garnethill- which is currently under wraps until it is published in a few weeks time.
Here are some images from the exhibition!
Exploring Violence: reflecting on personal experience of domestic and state violence
This Friday sees the launch of 'Diverse-City'- a showcase of 10 Emerging artists with contemporary community arts practice. Together with Fionn Duffy I designed the catalog for the exhibition, featuring everyone's work. Come down to the Barrowlands Art and Design space on Friday for the opening, it would be great to see you there!
"We are a group of young creatives from across Glasgow from a
variety of backgrounds, brought together through an interest in
sharing our practice in order to facilitate positive social change.
We are musicians, actors, artists, photographers and designers
but a common thread runs through all of the arts – the desire to
This Exhibition serves to mark the end of our time supported by
Impact Arts through their Artist Mentoring Programme. Over the
past six months we have been given the opportunity to expand our
experience and understand how we can each work, both individually
and collaboratively within a community arts organization and as
It has been a whirlwind since I discovered I would be working with ASCUS and Eczema outreach Scotland to deliver their incredible Scotland Wide arts project, Atopic Art. From the moment I met them all on skype I knew we would have fun!
I'm not going to give too much away right now, but I will show you some lovely pictures from the wonderful Sandra Franco, who worked incredibly hard on the day documenting everyone's creations!
Check out her other work on her facebook, and keep in touch with her via twitter @_sandrafranco_
Last week I had the pleasure of working with a great design team... Primary Sevens at Crookston Castle School! We were working on book designs for stories they have written, detailing the medieval adventures at Crookston Castle.
The character designs are absolutely fantastic, although as Elaine from Historic Scotland has pointed out, I'm not sure they had Hoverboards in the 11th century...
Midnight and Joey's Midnight Adventure team- What a great mood board!
New Year, new Project Cafe website!
No other job has such delicious rewards....